Freedom, Purpose & Impact — in that order

In 2012 I hit a wall. I was sitting in a cubicle, working with a bully boss, getting fat and having insomnia, all while dreaming of getting away from it all. I was working full time, was a full time grad student getting a master’s in public administration and stressing my significant other out. I wanted to be happy, I wanted to be free!

So, I did something drastic and rad, and you’ve probably heard of this before: I quit my job, I sold all of my stuff and I did a solo trip around the world. People will tell you this is a career killer. It isn’t. At least, it was the opposite for me — my 6 month journey and subsequent 7 month job search gave me a 50% salary raise from that previous job that was killing me. I also lost 15 pounds without trying and realized you can live out of a backpack and be happy. I simplified by mostly walking, biking and taking public transit, I reflected with Buddhist monks and I yearned to keep this lifestyle going. It rejuvenated me, it settled my FOMO down and it gave me the needed break and space I needed to see what I really wanted and confidence to go after it and not settle.

Upon my return it was difficult to find exactly what I wanted: an environmental sustainability job where marketing skills and an MPA would come into play — in the heart of oil country, Texas. So, I settled. I went right back into my previous industry and a year later I was sitting in an office, getting fat, losing my hair and having insomnia again.

But, there’s just something about a solo trip around the world that makes you feel like you can do anything, which is a curse of sorts. Upon my return to the states I was drawn in by networking events at colleges and a new coworking space, all of them touting the virtues of being an entrepreneur. The special ones, though, appealed to the connecting of all my intense interest dots: environment, social causes and being independent. Naturally, the social enterprise realm intrigued me and I didn’t want to be just any entrepreneur, I wanted to be a social entrepreneur.

I started Hub & Spoke Collaborative in May 2014 with the idea to create a social enterprise coworking space with a built in marketing team that would launch early startup brands so they could focus on their projects. Part Impact Hub, part Green Spaces, part Richards Group and I thought it was a pretty solid idea. But, we found coworking wasn’t the big money maker we thought it to be and it didn’t offer me location independence at all. A pivot or two later and it has evolved into seminars, events, growth hacking and crowdfunding consulting with an online news aggregate and resources to build the social enterprise tribe in Dallas-Fort Worth with the hopes of becoming an incubator.

Even though it takes 1,000 days to realize if this will really work, I’m at day 1,215 and I can tell you it’s hard. You don’t know what is going to work or if going down all these rabbit holes is just your journalistic curiosity getting the best of you. “Freedom” feels like work, and it takes away from simplicity and my time with friends and family where I can simply BE and drop my ambition for enough time to get a haircut. You have to figure out how to help others make money, and then you can; meanwhile, you take on every client that comes your way in the hopes that “this could be a big one”. FOMO is back with a new look and name — opportunity.

How do you sort through this? Well, after the first year of spreading yourself think you start to notice what you hate to do, and — more importantly — what you love to do. This first phase is finding your purpose. I know I love 4 things: the environment, biking, SUP, live indie music, and research & writing. How do you connect the dots between all your loves? You don’t have to, but leave it to me to try. Four birds, one stone, if you will. My newest endeavor is a bike fun ride for the planet, benefiting local environmental nonprofits.

My best friend recently told me I have to start a business, that I’m not meant to be an office worker and when it comes to entrepreneurship that I “have it in me”. “You’re miserable, otherwise. You’re not like other people who can do it, you’re meant to do something else,” she said. Once I figure out how to find freedom and be abundant, I can’t wait to tell folks how to do it. That’s my giving back; making enough profit to be a philanthropist and invest in promising social enterprises and training others to break out of the rat race…it’s a societal construct and there are different ways to do things. You have around 80 years on planet earth, don’t be miserable during the best parts of them.

Impact is just a way of saying, provide value and make a difference. That will drive you.

Like what you read? Give Jillian McFarland a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.