There are some lessons in life that can only be learned from experience. Raising 3 small children, I get to see this play out daily-learning about the power of heat from touching a hot object, the importance of taking care of your things when a favorite toy is broken because it was carelessly left in a bad place, I could think of at least 10 other examples.
This concept doesn’t change when we enter adulthood. Some lessons are best learned through experience. This year, I decided to pursue a business in a multi-level marketing (MLM) essential oil company. It seemed a perfect fit with my passion for creating a healthier home environment for my family and using my background in education and communications to share the power of essential oils with others.
While the business was financially profitable for our family and gave me an outlet aside from role as “mom” and “teacher”, I recently decided after a few months of prayerful consideration to stop pursuing the business. Here are some the valuable lessons I learned this year both from entering and ending the business:
1. Aligning my goals with my actions– For the past several years, our family has been on a quest for simplicity in all areas of our life. That means whittling down possessions, moving to a smaller house in a rural setting, creating carefully planned family goals, simplifying meal plans, learning to live off the land in new ways each year, homeschooling, etc. While essential oils themselves have greatly added to simplicity in our household by cutting down on the cleaning supplies, personal care products, and medicines we buy, the MLM business model didn’t align with our goals for simplicity. This is in no way meant to bash MLM businesses. Plenty of women I respect are running successful MLM businesses and it works for them.
But with the hierarchies, team building, classes taught, complex ordering systems, ordering more things to meet a quota etc., the business didn’t align with our personal goals. Being more available to answer customer queries led to more time away, physically and mentally, from my family. Again, not always bad. But when I have goals of less computer time, less daily interruptions via text, email, etc., things weren’t lining up. But because it was profitable and enjoyable, it took me awhile to admit this truth to myself. When simplicity is a major theme in family life, each need endeavor added needs to be carefully considered to see if it will, in fact, further your goal of less hustle and bustle. At first, I didn’t want to think that the business was adding to stress in our life. We even let go of some other commitments to see if they were the stressors. But when the stress didn’t go away, it was time to take an honest look at our priorities and our activities to see where the disconnect was happening. It was quickly evident to me that I needed to pray about making a change.
2. Define Your Why– One aspect of the business I really enjoyed was personal development. Being out of the workforce for a few years now, it was invigorating to listen to trainings and do assessments that helped me focus and plan for goals. One statement that leaders often put before us was “Define Your Why”, encouraging us to put into words why this business was important to us. I saw my “why” as encouraging others to find natural alternatives to take proactive steps in their health. The trouble for me wasn’t defining my “why”, it was my “how”. With a high involvement in church ministries and commitments, homeschooling my own 3, tutoring in our Classical Conversations community, and other responsibilities, my plate was already overflowing like Thanksgiving day when there isn’t a spare centimeter of clear space. But then Grandma would put out the pierogi. Something needs to come off the plate. Or to quote Ron Swanson, a favorite character from a favorite show, Parks and Recreation, “Never do two things half-assed, do one thing whole assed.”
While this quote always makes me laugh, there is a lot of truth to it. I am a firm believer in doing a few things well instead of many things in mediocrity. With many things starting to look mediocre in my day to day, I had to evaluate if it was the business or the passion of sharing that was really my why. It wasn’t the business. So, I found a new “how”. I really enjoy blogging. I am able to set specific time constraints and schedule my writing while sharing with many people our “search for the simple” things in life. It’s a creative outlet for me, serves as a journal, and is still a way to fulfill my “why”. Blogging also gives me the freedoms to discuss all the ways we pursue natural health and all the companies helping us in that journey. I am excited to diversify a bit as I have never really been a “brand loyal” type of gal and share our experiences across the board.
You Only Get One– This could easily sum up the lesson God taught me through this entire year. We only get one shot at this life. And in a year marked with illness and tragedy in our family, we have truly come to realize the fragility of life. This life is beautiful and too short to be doing anything we don’t absolutely love. This is not to say we are going to love every mundane task. I love my kids, but will never say I LOVE changing a dirty diaper. But when we do have a choice, it should be something we love. So while this was a difficult process of making the choice to leave behind a profitable and upwardly mobile business, the peace I feel in making the decision is proof that it was the right choice…for me.
I’ve been reading the book The Best Yes over the past few months and so much of what Lysa Terkeurst has to say has resonated with me in this season of life. Sometimes we have to let go of perfectly good things to make room for the things we love, the best things. When there is a voice in your heart telling you that you need to let go of something, listen to that voice because it’s likely our great God who has something even better in store for you.
When I let go, in obedience, to something good, God makes room for His best.
While I am incredibly passionate about simple living and natural health, it is God who is the ultimate Healer. My focus must first be on Him if I am to be healthy in any way. Because the health of my soul will always be more important than the health of this body I will leave behind one day. Listening to God’s call for my life and the dreams He places in my heart will always lead me on the right path, even if that means letting go of something good.