Jill’s Blog

Living Your Assignment

Remember career day in junior high?      I remember being an 8th grader doing a report on career day about my dream of being a TV reporter.   The report was good, I nailed it and I am pretty sure I got an A+ from Mr. McGee.   I was obsessed with Barbara Walters.  I watched all her TV specials and my Nana and I rarely missed her show 20/20. The Coup De Grace for us was watching Barbara and Peter Jennings cover the royal wedding of Charles and Diana.  That sealed the deal.   Yes, yes, I wanted to be the next Barbara Walters!   My career goals didn’t change much throughout high school, in fact I became even more resolved to achieve the goal.     I applied and was accepted at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, the best journalism program in the country.  Holy crap, my dream was going to come true.   And then, guess what?    I flunked out after 3 semesters, I flamed out and was sent packing.    And my dream of hosting 20/20 all but vanished.     

After returning home, I continued my impressive career in the food service industry (read:  I was a waitress).  And let me tell you, I was a damn good waitress but as you can imagine, it was not going to be my life’s work.   The history books will say that fate lent a hand in 1993, when I got my first “real job” at MBNA.  That was a watershed moment for me and since then, I have spent 25 years leading people and operations at multiple companies with a good deal of success if I do say so myself.   And to be honest, people leadership was truly a WAY better fit than broadcast journalism.   It’s funny how life happens that way.      I wonder if we went back and looked at all the career day presentations from McKelvie School 8th grade class of 1983, if ANYONE is doing what they articulated that day.    I’m pretty sure that guy who wanted to be an astronaut is actually family law attorney and the budding architect who wanted to “carry the plans around like Mike Brady,” became a pastor who works with a restorative justice program.   

Bottom line, we all have an assignment in life, and we’re all working towards living that assignment.  And I guess being a broadcaster wasn’t my assignment. I’m pretty sure leading and inspiring people is my assignment.  I don’t care if you believe in god or any type of higher power or you don’t, I do believe we all have certain gifts and we were put here by someone or something to share those gifts with the world.    And those gifts RARELY line up with our first career objectives and goals whether we form them in 8th grade or at the age of 27.    How do we know if we are living our assignment, doing that thing we were put here on this earth to do?    An old mentor used to describe it as “the fire in the belly.”   He would say that if you spend your days doing something that puts a fire in the belly, and we’re not talking heartburn, then you are doing that thing you were put here to do.   For some of us, that’s at work.  For others, it’s their extracurricular activities, maybe coaching a team, doing volunteering or being a great mama.     No matter what it is, I think it should be our mission to figure it out and get busy doing it.    For others and ourselves.   

I had a true “living my assignment” moment last week.   I was in front of a room full of women, talking about intention and goal setting.    It’s the first event I have ever hosted like this and to be honest, I was terrified before it started.   What if no one shows up?  What if they don’t like what I have to say?  What if I have to pee in the middle of the talk (that’s real)?   Good news!  They showed up, I am pretty sure that they liked what I had to say and there were no bathroom emergencies in the 90 minutes of the program.      I stood there talking with these amazing badass women who were engaged and energized and open about their struggled with goal setting and intention.     We shared ideas, they took notes and it was pretty freaking awesome.  Outside of my wedding (the second one) and the birth of my kids, it was probably one of the finest 90 minutes of my life.   And then I knew.   This is what I was put here to do.    As a friend said to me at the reception at my house afterwards, “this Jill! This is your JAM!”  

That night, after everyone left and my husband had gone to bed, I reflected on the day and I cried big ugly tears of happiness.    I had taken the next step toward living my assignment and it felt AMAZING!    

How can you figure out what your true calling is?   Well there are hundreds of books on the subject so that’s one place to start.    Another approach is a bit simpler and you can do it in 15 minutes, right now, TODAY!   Find a quiet place and take pen to paper and make a list of all the things you do that you are truly passionate about (remember, FIRE IN THE BELLY).    List those things that you love, and it would make you happy if you could do that thing all day long.   On that same paper, make a list of all the things you do that deplete you, that drain your energy.    Then get busy and plan to do more of the former and less of the latter, it’s really that simple.    The plan may take 5 weeks, 5 months or 5 years, but put the plan in motion today.   

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While your making your list, fire up the inspireal spotify playlist and listen to this week’s latest additions, a little Sara Bareilles and little Dolly!

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Jill Parker