Vulnerable episode alert: today, I am going to share with you how personal growth changed my life. You will learn the exact steps I took to go from an overwhelmed, grumpy teacher mom to a confident, thriving happy mom. I want to show you that it IS possible for you to follow your dreams. After all, I was sitting right where you are just three years ago.
As promised, I’d like to take a moment to share my personal growth journey with you. My reason for doing this is to help you see that having a plan for your personal growth can move you so much faster towards that dream life you are craving.
To be completely transparent, I struggled with whether I wanted to share the story of how personal growth changed my life. In real life, my family and I are fairly private. But my husband asked me the other day: “If you knew for a fact that this would help one person, would you share it?” Oof. Leave it to him for the real talk. He’s absolutely right and please know that my intention in sharing this is for you to not feel alone, no matter where you are on the journey. As for inspirational? You’ll have to let me know how we land on that.
So here it goes, story of how personal growth changed my life, in a nutshell. To start, I was raised with a super strong sense of loyalty and a deep desire for stability.. I believed at my core that I always had to finish what I started, no matter how I felt about it or how happy I was. So when I got my teaching degree and landed my dream teaching job – boom! Instant plan for the next 37.5 years of my life (Sweeeeeet! Do people still say that anymore? I’m pretty sure we said that in 2011, so let’s roll with it). ANYWAY, with that teaching job, I could literally tell you what I’d be doing in 15 years to the day. At the time, that made me absolutely giddy. Stability? Check. Loyalty? Double check.
The first two years of teaching were good. My husband and I got married, everything seemed to be working out according to “plan”. In the seven years that followed that though, the wheels started to fall off. I quickly realized that I was stuck in a life that wasn’t my dream life. And to be honest, it wasn’t even close.
In 2014, my oldest daughter, Aubrey was born. My husband and I worked really hard to save up for an extended maternity leave. Because of that I was able to leave teaching to be home with her for almost ten months. During that time, I desperately looked for a way out of teaching. I actively helped my husband look for higher-paying administrative positions. Although he got super close a bunch of times, none of them ended up working out.
I applied for a few jobs, but rejected the interview when they called. Nothing felt right and I was terrified about our financial situation if I made any big changes. By the time August rolled around, I resigned myself to the fact that I was stuck and returned to school.
Around that same time, I slowly began to start exploring the idea of personal growth. This is embarrassing to even admit, but I was so mortified by the stigma of personal growth and self-help that it took me a few weeks to muster the courage to even take a personal growth book out of the library (it was Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, if you’re curious). Progress was slow, but I was grateful that I was at least doing something to grow into the role model that I wanted to be for my daughter.
So that’s also about the time that I discovered Rachel Hollis. Although she has recently fallen from grace, her book Girl, Wash Your Face helped me to discover that it’s OK to want more for your life. She taught me that you don’t have to settle for a life that you’re not genuinely excited about. So while it wasn’t a huge AH-HA moment, the seed had been planted. And that was the start of how personal growth changed my life.
Fast-forward to January of 2018, it was the winter after my final maternity leave with my second daughter. I was beyond miserable at school and drove there every morning with a pit of dread in my stomach. It occurred to me driving to school one day that I was a 32 year old with 32 years left to teach. Essentially, my entire lifetime. That thought gutted me. I knew in my heart that I just couldn’t do it. I knew I would never want my girls to go to a job every day that left them feeling unfulfilled and hopeless.
But what the heck was I going to do about it? What was the NEW plan?! It was the dead of winter, and my seasonal affective depressive disorder was hitting hard. I was working full-time, pumping at work and felt myself sliding deeper down every day. I wasn’t the mom I wanted to be for my kids or the partner I wanted to be for my husband.
One desperate afternoon, I made a list of things that I was interested in. I just wanted something to excite me again. I wanted to prove to myself that I could still GET excited about something. There were a bunch of half-hearted things on the list and I just picked the one that intrigued me the most: photography. While I battled my rut, I figured I would learn to use my expensive camera at the same time! I found a free online course and immediately got hooked.
My husband was so excited to see me start to pull myself out of my rut that he didn’t think twice when I asked him if we could take $500 from our savings to put towards an online photography class. I had literally NO time to do the class (remember, I was teaching full-time and we had 2 kids under the age 3). So, I created my own time.
I started waking up at 4am to go through the content of the class and learn all the things. It was too dark to practice in the morning, so I’d run home after school to apply what I learned before the sunset at 5pm (yay, New England). I swore up and down that I’d never make it into a business, but then on August 1st, I launched Sharon Leger Photography. The rest, they say, is history. I took a part-time teaching job, and once Covid hit, I took an extended absence and then finallyI resigned from my teaching job in May of 2021. I can honestly say, I haven’t looked back.
Friends, all that was 3 years ago. Since then, I realized how much I needed a personal growth plan to make huge changes in my life. Now, I am sitting in my own photography studio as a full-time family photographer and helping to empower other busy moms to be the best version of themselves. I have a protocol that I now rely on to hold myself to high standards, especially during the longer winter months. I am excited to go to work every day and I go to sleep at night knowing that I am modeling for my girls how to live your life on purpose, even if it’s not always easy.
The intention behind this episode or this podcast is NOT for you to start your own business, or quit your job or write a book, or start a podcast or do what I did. My intention is for you to feel like you have direction, support and the ability to create a PLAN to be the best version of yourself for you and for your family. Whatever that plan may look like. Everyone’s journey is going to look different and that is more than OK. It’s just about growing into the best version of yourself, for yourself and for your family. And who doesn’t want that?!
So if you decide to follow along on this journey, you are going to get:
OK, friends, you know what’s coming (say it with me now): LET’S MAKE A PLAN!
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
And finally, if you’re looking to dive into some of the content that I mentioned, I linked John Maxwell’s book here and another influential book, Girl, Wash Your Face that helped me start my journey by Rachel Hollis. I highly recommend them (and these are affiliate links)!
Thank you so much for being here, mama! Get back to doing your thing, rocking your world and remember – keep growing! Little eyes are watching.
If so, be sure to share it with a friend – this helps busy moms like you to find me!
And finally, you can also check out these related episodes that I think you’ll be obsessed with: