We live in a world where the ‘best’ advice given to both young and old is to ‘follow your heart.’  It sounds pretty good.  It implies that one has the ability to decide their future, and live their dreams, whatever those dreams may be.  There are all sorts of errors in this thinking, in addition to harmful consequences, but I’m going to zero in on one particular aspect today.

‘Following your heart’ may lead you into a marriage that is not wise, and may lead you to divorce later on as you, ‘fall out of love,’ and ‘follow your heart’ to another woman/man, a different life direction, etc.

‘Following your heart’ may lead you into fornication because, after all, ‘we love each other.’

Following a heart that lusts after money, possessions or worldly importance, may lead a dad to become a workaholic, essentially abandoning his family, or a mother in abdicating her primary work as mom, not out of extreme financial necessity, but so that we can keep this house, both car, have good vacations, etc.

When we were expecting our first child, both my husband and I made a very conscious decision for me to leave work, and we accepted the consequences that came from that decision.  Those consequences included short selling our dream home (which was unwisely purchased to start), downsizing to 1 car, moving back to NY for better job opportunities for my husband, living in a 1 br apartment with 2 children, and amputating many of the luxuries of life.  Don’t get me wrong, we still made some stupid financial decisions after that, but we saw the importance of mom being fully mom, and made the necessary sacrifices to make that happen.

There have been a handful of moments when I have thought, ‘what in the world am I doing here?’ and thought about to lure of going out and getting a ‘real job,’ that produced real money and real recognition.

Last year I was offered a coaching position at my old middle school.  It seemed like a good opportunity to bring in some additional income, the season was short (2 months), and the timing worked well with my husband getting off work much earlier than most jobs, the kids would only be babysat for a relatively short period of time.  And, of course, it would be tons of fun.

The kids were watched by friends twice a week, my husband had off once a week, and I took them with me the other two days.  It worked well.  Until…

Towards the very end of the season, I was informed that I could not have them with me at the field because of liability issues.  We made it through the last week of practices, but knew that the decision to come back next season would take more thought.  We hardly ever leave our kids with a babysitter, and the thought of having them watched 4 days a week for two months straight was not appealing, no matter what the financial benefit.

I recently sent an email to the Athletic Director sharing our predicament (which he already knew) and asked if starting practices a bit later was an option, because by then my husband would be done with work.  If that wasn’t acceptable, I regretfully told him that I would not be able to serve as his coach this year.

His reply was gracious, but indicated that starting practices later was a problem, and explained why.  So I had a decision to make: stick to the convictions previously set, or give in, and compromise.  For a moment, my desire for worldly importance colored my thinking.  For a moment, ‘getting rid of the kids’ so that I could coach became an option.  For a moment, prioritizing the training of these children was less important than my desire for self-importance.  Had I followed my heart, I likely would have compromised.  Thankfully, I have learned that I need to lead my own heart.

Also thankfully, there was a third option, which took care of my concerns, and also came with a $1000 pay raise!