I’ve heard it a million times: you’re just one of those people who get what they want. There is some truth to it—I’ve always been a very goal oriented person. I thrive on putting that check mark next to a goal on my list and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it. Hard work? It’s never scared me. In fact, I pride myself on being a very hard worker. I know I’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish my goal, often times to a fault. Sacrifice, blood, sweat, and tears have lined the path that turned me into the journalist, designer, and business owner I am today.
But this story isn’t about that. It’s about the times I didn’t get what I wanted. The times I worked my rear end off only to have a door shut in my face or a boss tell me no to a position I desperately wanted and felt I deserved. It’s those painful, punch in the gut moments that have forced me to find my new North, carefully examine my motivation, and dig down deep to pick myself up, brush off the dream I had, and re focus on the dream that was really there, but I didn’t know it at the time.
I remember in college working professionals in the television industry would come down to our campus and talk to my classes about how difficult it was to succeed in news. Many of my classmates ended up changing their career paths after graduation or they would stick it out for a year or two, but ultimately decide news wasn’t for them. The working every holiday, weird schedules, gas station dinners, or emotional toll stories would push them toward a different career. Not me. It was almost as if the more difficult it was, the more I felt like I would outlast the competition. Hey boss, gimme the toughest assignment! You want me to work every single holiday to fill-in anchor? Done! Cover a terrible story in the middle of nowhere for more than a week straight while staying in a slasher motel? You got it! Saying yes when my colleagues were saying no earned me a solid reputation as someone willing to go the extra mile and get the job done and done well. Sure, it was taxing but I didn’t have children, my husband was working hard as a junior associate at his law firm, and we both saw it as working toward the bigger picture.
Fast forward to my first pregnancy. Even though it was an extremely challenging time physically with a high-risk pregnancy, I kept on keepin’ on as I always had, pushing myself sometimes in really stupid ways—working the night reporting shift, then turning around to fill in on the morning show for several days in a row at a time, saying yes to every opportunity that came my way, and coming in on almost every weekend to practice anchoring. I knew as a new mother, reporting every night on the 10 o’clock news would be a rough schedule once my daughter was born so I was working toward carving out a niche for myself—some kind of anchor position, then investigative reporting. Or special interest reporting. Or really anything else other than reporting at 10 pm every night. You’re a shoe in, everyone would tell me. They’d be crazy not to give it to you, I’d hear. No one deserves this more, managers would say. I had won best reporter in Utah twice, won Emmy awards, Murrow Awards. This was the natural next step in progression—the next goal for me to achieve. I add that not to brag, but to demonstrate I had truly done everything within my power to make myself a valuable employee. I had laid it all on the line. And because of that, what happened next was extremely frustrating.
I kept hearing “no.” Every time I would hear of a possible position opening, or shifting things around, or pitch a new gig I would get a “no” in return. Not one to be deterred by the word “no,” I did what I have always done. I worked harder. I won more awards. I had my precious baby girl and came back from maternity leave early because the station needed someone to fill in on the anchor desk. Surely, that would earn me some brownie points!
Wrong. It was like trying to cram a square peg in a round hole. My boss told me I was simply too valuable as a reporter at that time. They had recently hired a lot of new faces and I was one of two familiar news talents on the evening news they were trying to build up. I was told I needed to take one for the team—the team I had figuratively taken bullets for. And the sacrifice was becoming too great for the payoff. It wasn’t about me anymore—it was about my little girl and my husband.
So, I quit. Boy, did it take a lot of careful and painful self-examination. Why was I so narrowly focused on achieving that next goal? Was it truly what I wanted? Was it what was best for me, and my family? Again, the answer was “no,” but this time it was me telling myself that.
My wise husband then asked me a question that took me in a completely different career direction: if I could do anything else in the entire world with my career, what would it be? I immediately answered design—something I had always done on the side for family and friends, but never had the time to do much more with because news was so all consuming. I started a blog and within the first six months it was awarded blog of the year by Better Homes and Gardens and Domino Magazine. I suddenly had clients from all over contacting me to design their homes, which turned into a design firm and now a textile collection of fabric and wallpaper I designed. That “no” has now turned into a whole lot of “yes,” and allows me to continue to say yes to opportunities I never anticipated or imagined. But the most important “yes” that “no” turned into is more time with my now three daughters and husband.
You see, sometimes God has a different path for you, as he did for me. It may not be the path you thought you would take, and he may redirect you in a way that makes you curl up in the fetal position and cry, but I’ve learned if I’ve done my very best and it’s still not working out, it’s the man upstairs moving the chess pieces around.
And it turns out I was able to check that box next to news anchor after all. Last year while I was pregnant with my third daughter, Fox 13 contacted me out of the blue to see if I would be interested in anchoring a news program part time with a schedule that fit perfectly with our family and my design business’s needs. Can you guess what I said?