I’m smiling right now and have been for days. About a week ago Betsy resigned and is now officially working alongside me as a full-time entrepreneur! She had been miserable in her job for several years and was in desperate need of a sabbatical and career change. Her employer took good care of her and she was friends with many coworkers but the career was just a bad fit for her goals, dreams, and gifts; it just took her a long time to realize it and even longer to do something about it. I traveled a similar path.
Let’s take a closer look at how I lost sight of dreams then rediscovered their importance and learned to find the courage to chase after them again.
How I lost sight of my dreams
When did I lose site of my dreams? I think it happened during college, but am sure that by the time I graduated my dreams had completely dropped off my radar. Instead I was busy writing a resume analogous with most other graduates and groveling for entry level jobs that I knew very little about. Would these jobs challenge me? Would they help me find happiness? Would they even be something I enjoyed doing? Surprisingly I spent almost zero time pondering these questions and instead moved along like a zombie because it was the path everyone else seemed to be walking. College didn’t equip me with critical thinking skills and never challenged me to answer these terribly important questions before choosing a life path.
And so I graduated still unable to answer these simple questions and even further away from asking them.
Life chose my direction
To be honest, until recently I never knew what I wanted to do with my life. I went to college because my dad wanted me to and because all my friends were going. I finished college – with a 7 year bachelors degree – because I wanted to finish what I started and had no idea what else to do. I pursued a job in my field because I had spent $50,000+ on the education. I kept the jobs in my field, despite being unhappy and unfulfilled, to keep up with the debt and to begin pursuing other “normal” life progressions like buying a car, buying a house, filling my house with cool stuff, etc.
The point is, if you don’t consciously chose your path at every turn, life will chose for you.
So whose fault is it?
It’s nobody’s fault really, it was just the path I traveled in life. I don’t necessarily regret any of it because it all worked together to bring me where I am today. I don’t blame college, I don’t blame society, I don’t blame anyone… mostly I’m thankful that God is continually shaping and molding me into a vessel to be used for His glory. I mean, who knows? If I hadn’t been through so many uncertainties in life, would I be writing this article today? I doubt it.
Without my trials and tough times I would likely be more selfish and less focused on my goals.
Learning to dream again
Through all this uncertainty I was continually unhappy about my lack of true purpose. I knew I was a Christian and I knew I needed to glorify God. I was sure He wasn’t calling me into full-time ministry in the typical sense, but just as sure I was in the wrong line of work. For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me, but as time passed I became increasingly certain that I simply needed a career change – but I had too much debt!
I started really chasing my dreams at the start of 2009 when I started DebtFreeAdventure.com. I realized I badly needed a change, that my lifestyle choices up to that point had trapped me, and that my debt played a major role; so I decided to start getting rid of it. DFA was a healthy step in learning to chase my dreams again, and it continues to be today. Now I use DFA to stay accountable to my financial goals, to help others understand the power of debt and to help them get out, to encourage more saving and giving, and to help people understand that they need to focus on finding and fulfilling their life mission.
Where are we now?
In October of 2010 I lost my job as an Information Technology professional but decided to keep looking for another while taking a shot at replacing my career earnings with the income from DebtFreeAdventure.com and DiyNatural.com. After having no luck finding IT work in Michigan’s poor economy I took a shot at becoming a financial advisor but quickly discovered working in that field would be yet another misadventure. So in February of 2011 I decided to finally go for it; now, come hell or high water, I’m committed to turning my web properties into something that will help others and provide for my family. We are having to scrimp, sacrifice, and slash expenses for now but it’s all worth it to finally be pursuing a vocation that is in line with my calling!
We work hard and trust God for the increase.
The Jabs Dream Team
Now that Betsy is done with her career we’re chasing our dreams together and working full-time to deliver content that helps people increase personal freedom and joy. We teach people how to break the bondage of debt so they can pursue their dreams. We also teach people how to increase their self-reliance skills as an empowering creative outlet that helps save money, know what is in their food and household cleaners, and to live more sustainable lives that give back to society rather than blindly consuming and trashing.
All these things also help us and others prepare for an uncertain economic future.
That is our dream, so that is what we’re doing. Now go chase your dreams!
As featured in the Get Out Of Debt round up.
Way to go! I love reading your story. It is very encouraging to me as my dreams have changed due to chronic disabling illness.
Congrats for Betsy and great to hear your story!
Congrats and good luck! It sounds like it’s going well so far!
My biggest obstacle (well … one of them) in attempting a jump like that would be health insurance. How do you get/afford it?
Matt Jabs says
We’re not there yet Heather, we have insurance through the end of August… so we’re looking and will be sharing the info here on DFA. We’re considering both individual insurance plans and Christian Share networks used in conjunction with HRA’s or HSA’s.
Paula @ AffordAnything.org says
I’m self-employed and have individual insurance that I bought online (I used eHealthInsurance.com to compare plans, though there are many options). Since I’m generally healthy, I opted for a high-deductible HSA plan.
In my mind, I classify this not so much as “health” insurance as it is, “medical worst-case-scenario” insurance. What I mean by that is that if I have a toothache or some other minor ailment, I’ll have to pay for it out of pocket, but if something really bad happens, my insurance will prevent costs from spiraling too far out of control.
Hi Heather, I read your comment and just had to let you know about Medi-Share…it is a form of health insurance and is Christian based. Been around since 1993. Please type Medi-Share into your browser and check it out! PS, I am Matts mom.
Congratulations on being able to pursue your dreams. The passion that you feel enables you to be so much more productive I would presume. That should translate to your bottom line over time as well.
Paula @ AffordAnything.org says
I love your title — ‘learning to dream again.’ Although it sounds like you’re LIVING your dream now! Congratulations to both you and Betsy.
Matt Jabs says
Thanks Paula, we are – but it wasn’t an easy road… and there are still a lot of challenges, but to us it’s all MORE than worth it!
Bret @ Hope to Prosper says
This is an awesome post Matt and I’m glad you are finally living your dream.
I have worked in the computer industry since 1985 and have been an IT Manager since 1996. Unlike you, I chose this career path and I enjoy the work. Especially, since I quit my last job and now have the best job of my career. I also have dreams of being the master of my own destiny. But, in the mean time, I am very fortunate to have a great job and a blog that I love.
Good luck with your new direction and keep the dream alive.
Matt Jabs says
Thanks Bret, God bless.
Matt, love the article summary idea! Also, I love this article because I believe it resonates with the majority of people and especially your readership! If they were not interested in alternative ways of thinking about life, they certainly would not be reading your website. You and Betsy are riding the wave of the paradigm shift of conventional thinking and are an inspiration and a source of strength for who knows how many out there! I am proud of you!
Ryan Reger - Business Ideas, Tips, and Strategies says
I LOVE your story!!!
My wife and I own an online furniture business and have been self-employed for the last 4 years and there’s nothing quite like owning your own business and having to trust God for the supply.
Now I’m trying to go your route by starting a blog. I love that you just stepped out and did it.