Should I Get a Real Job?

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Valeria Zoncoll

By Kate Pennell

How to be a good parent and realize your dreams.

It’s December. My sprouting preteen has just announced that his trousers are approaching half-mast and Christmas is raising a sarcastic eyebrow in my direction. Oh, and the rent is due.

It is at moments like this that I swallow and doubt. My teaching brings in a bit of money, shouldn’t I just put all my energy into that? After all, it’s my responsibility as a parent to care for my kids and set a good example for them. And at the end of the day, the rent needs paying.

When we set our feet on this path towards creating a better self and a better life we know that, at times, the path will be stony and hard going. We overcome so much as we leave our baggage behind, find our purpose, answer the deeper calls within us, and dare to grasp the distaff to spin our dreams into reality.

Then reality douses us, ice-bucket challenge style, and we have to fight to keep that passion burning within us.

My kids dream. First, they had crazy dreams of being inventors, playing for Barcelona FC, being pop stars. Now their dreams have a little less stardust on them—but they dream on still. Photographer, studying abroad, writer. Just as crazy. God bless crazy dreams and crazy dreamers.

I so want for them to fulfill their dreams, to be who they were made to be. I look back down the line at my own dad, who had his dreams stolen from him one after another, to whom retirement feels like pie in the sky even at his age. As he says, “I will have to work until I die.” Yet, if one looks, the pieces of his potential can be seen laying there like unjoined pieces of a puzzle.

That is the last thing that I want for him or for myself or my children. Or for anyone.

It is one of the motivators for moving out of the mundane and reaching for something beyond. It is the reason for my Life Coaching certificate, for my writing, and sharing. It is the reason behind my studying and all the energy and time being put into becoming better, becoming more authentically me, and moving out into fulfilling my purpose.

However, just sometimes, when the kids need new trousers and I’m tired of working two jobs in the in-between light before the dawn of being able to see all that I hope for becoming reality…I wonder if I should just get a “real” job. Am I alone in thinking this?

“Pursuing your purpose in life is one of the most unselfish things a person can do,” says

Natalie Rivera, entrepreneur, life coach, speaker, and publisher of Transformation Coaching Magazine.

 How on earth can that be true? Especially for parents! There seems to be this unwritten rule that we should give up everything for the sake of our kids and you’re a bad parent if you even think about having preferences or a personality. Dreams are for the teens or the retired, right?

Wrong. My sister, crazy woman that she is, recently did a night hike up the highest mountain in Wales in support of a cancer charity. Halfway up, something nasty happened to a tendon after a slip on some shale. Did she give up? Did she ‘eck as like! She crossed the finish line supported by two hike organizers and the waiting cheers of her two little girls. She told me afterwards, “What would my girls think of me if I’d given up? What example would I have set for them?”

You see, there it is. Natalie Rivera goes on to ask how can we expect our children to truly be themselves and live their passions and purpose if we lay our own aside? It sounds like a case of, “Do as I say not do as I do,” and kids have finely attuned hypocrite-detectors.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, many times the motivation for laying our passions or dreams aside is rooted in fear: fear of failure, of success, of what people may think or say, of messing things up for ourselves or others, of not possibly being good enough.

It’s doubtful that decisions made from such a negative starting point can have a truly positive outcome.

Fear seems so powerful, especially when it brings some muscle along in the form of false guilt or condemnation, or manipulates our sense of duty and our wanting the best for our families. Despite seeming like a supervillain, fear is just a bad emotional habit with a loudhailer. We have a choice as to whether we make an agreement with it or not.

Making our decisions with a healthy respect for the consequences and the cost is not the same as making a decision from a place controlled by fear.

You see, if we sacrifice up our desires we teach our families to sacrifice theirs.

If we persevere, we model perseverance and achievement for them.

So when they see us studying in our “free” time, we help them to see that learning can be a lifelong passion and how to invest time wisely. They see that we can be more than our current limits.

When they see us working two different jobs, they learn that a person is not defined by their job title. They see us balance real-life obligations and real-life passions.

When they have chores on the job rotation—because Mum/Dad can’t do it all—they learn that the housework is not done by fairies, and that living together means cooperating as a team. They learn to think about the needs of other people and the group as a whole. (Warning: They may not see it like this at the time. You may even have noticed this.)

When things take time, they learn that life isn’t a drive-through Happy Meal. Very often, good things need time to grow, along with patience and hard work, care and creativity.

When we live authentically in front of them they learn to trust us and in turn to trust themselves, even if they question the world around them.

And that is just for starters. So when we hug them, listen to them, bake a cake or kick a ball with them AND live all that alongside them, that makes us Good Parents.

We invest in ourselves, our lives together, and in them.

You see, we can say inspirational and directional things to our children every day, but if I die tomorrow I don’t want my kids to remember platitudes and exhortations, I want them to remember ME, to be inspired by who I am and how I lived.

Better still, I’ll inspire them while I’m alive and, in so doing, teach them and myself how to live with our eyes open, leave fear behind, and be able to say at the end of the day, “I did well because I did my best.”

“And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”—Marianne Williamson

Shine! Shine boldly, give warmth and light.

Kate Pennell, English and slightly geekish, is a coach and dream catalyst who lives in Spain with three kids, various furry creatures and a patient husband. She loves nature, creativity and seeing people discover what truly makes them come alive. Kate provides the people she works with permission to launch and helps them begin to fl y as they were made to. She teaches, encourages and connects with fellow travelers across our global village. Find out more at

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