Following My Heart Instead of the Money

One of the greatest gifts of financial independence is the gift of choice. It provides the opportunity to follow your heart instead of the money. 

I can decide where to go and what to do. After working twelve years as a software engineer and spending the last ten with my children, I stand on the precipice of my next adventure.

I could retire, but my husband has one last big purchase he’d like to make. Many years ago, we bought a plot of land with dreams of building a house on it.

Between that purchase and now, I gave birth to two children and spent a decade as a stay-at-home mom. I quit my high-paying job just after my son was born, and that plot of land remains empty.

We were doing well before I left my career, but my husband dutifully worked over the last decade to stockpile more money in our bank accounts. He could’ve quit many times, but he never considered it.

Searching for a New Job

I knew I’d return to work or significantly increase my volunteer hours after my kids were old enough to attend school full-time. The pandemic helped me see what a people person I am, and I want to seek out new experiences and build communities.

I prefer the volunteer route, but my husband and I set a goal to build a house, and I want to keep that promise. He fully supported me while I stayed home with our children, and I can surely return the favor.

I started my job search, but finding a job is challenging after becoming a stay-at-home parent. I updated my resume, sent hundreds of copies, and interviewed a handful of times, but the right opportunity has yet to present itself. 

Searching for jobs this time around feels strange. This time around, I understand the value of FU moneyI don’t want a career and don’t need to aim for the top rungs of the career ladder.

As a result, my interviews are less stressful. If I don’t like the job, the people, or the environment, I don’t have to accept the position, which is mind-blowing!

New Possibilities

I’m still sending out resumes, but in the meantime, I’ve signed up to become a substitute teacher. Substitute teacher pay will not build us a house, but it’s been an incredibly gratifying experience.

When I was fifteen, I got my first job as an assistant at a daycare center and loved every second of it. I prepared to get an English degree and become a college professor.

Life took me a different journey, but my desire to teach never disappeared. I loved volunteering in my kid’s schools when they were small and homeschooling during the pandemic

When my oldest turned five, I bought an online course and began teaching him to code. Since then, I’ve thought about ways to teach kids about software engineering.

Would I want to teach, though? There’s only one way to find out. I jumped into substitute teaching with two feet. I’ve taught at several schools in our county, but one school needs more help than the others.

Even though other schools are easier to manage, I’m drawn to the school with the most troubled students.

Following My Heart

My husband would still like to build a house, but he also bears witness to the difficulty of my return to work journey. I know he’d like to see our bank account fill up with a giant paycheck, but he’s proud of my desire to help kids who need extra help.

I haven’t subbed for long, but my heart feels incredibly full. Should I return to school to earn a teaching degree or teaching certificate? It’s too soon to tell, but it’s certainly a possibility.

Where Do I Go From Here

In college, I remember reading about choice overload and the struggle to make decisions when presented with too many options. 

Financial independence offers a world of opportunities. So which one do I take?

In high school and college, I tried out every job I thought I might like. I thought I wanted to be a psychologist until my psychology teacher took me to a facility to work with schizophrenic patients.

I considered working for local government until I interned for a state senator. To test out a role in marketing, I took a job creating promotional materials for a small technology company. When I considered working for museums, I got hired as a docent.

Over time I tested out each job and discovered what I didn’t want to do. When I found software engineering, I immediately fell in love with it. There was never a doubt in my mind that I found the right career.

Is teaching in my future? I’m not sure. I’ll keep passing out resumes and substituting teaching at least until the school year ends.

Those paychecks aren’t getting us any closer to building a house, but for now financial independence allows me to follow my heart instead of the money.

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