How to Know When You Need to Pivot Your Purpose
For some, purpose is a building process, a careful curation of interests and gifts that result in a greater meaning for their lives.
For others, it’s something that simply needs to be uncovered.
Like removing rubble to reveal fossilized amber, purpose can be something beautiful that has been there inside all along, waiting to be discovered.
Brynna Marnocha belongs to the latter group, a talented graphic designer and branding expert who has always had a creative undercurrent.
She vividly remembers a moment when she was younger, riding in the backseat of her parents’ car, when she noticed a billboard and began to think of design improvements that could better convey the company’s message.
Though it seems like she’s always had it figured out, it took some time and some elbow grease to uncover her true purpose in life: providing an artistic vision and strategy for people with big ideas - entrepreneurs, bloggers, small business owners and beyond.
Brynna’s story resonated with me because it was far more complex than a basic biography could convey. Throughout her journey, she has dealt with anxiety, fear of judgment, issues with self-worth, and the fearful way she looked at money.
Along the way, she experienced countless moments where she questioned her purpose and needed to decide whether or not to pivot.
Like life itself, Brynna is far from one note. After speaking with her about life as a small town entrepreneur, being a cool cat lady, taking on photographer duties for the @packers, and having a “savior complex”, I knew that I had to share her wisdom with you.
I’ve never been comfortable with getting comfortable.
Looking back, it feels like I’ve lived multiple lives, each sealed into a specific chapter with a distinct beginning and an end.
In one of those previous lives, I was a media intern for the @packers and a wedding photographer. I spent my Sundays taking photos of elite athletes and my Saturdays capturing intimate moments during the biggest day of someone’s life.
With weddings, I felt a lot of anxiety. Of course, I didn’t know it was anxiety at the time, I just thought it was normal nerves. I think any wedding photographer will tell you that it’s nerve wracking to be in charge of capturing a couple’s big day. But, personally, as much I loved doing it, there was a constant feeling of extreme pressure to be attentive for every single minute of each client’s day. My heart was full, but my soul was exhausted.
My own self care was never at the top of my priority list during times like this. I set expectations of myself that I knew would drain me, I was a perfectionist, I pulled multiple all-nighters a week, because in the end - I didn’t want to let anyone down.
I remember thinking, “I don’t want to feel this way for the rest of my life.”
The hidden anxiety that I failed to cope with would lead to tearful nights on my bedroom floor wondering why doing something I was talented at was causing me so much stress.
The underlying understanding that wedding photography wasn’t “right” for me was literally manifesting into more anxiety.
I didn’t know how to define my emotions at the time, yet alone know there was a solution.. I just thought it was part of the job.
When I decided to stop shooting weddings and moved on from taking gameday photos with the Packers, I knew I needed to regain trust in my own creative talents. This was crucial, not only for my mindset, but because the choice to leave behind a career I had worked so hard at came with a lot of doubt and fear - and I wanted to kick those insecurities to the curb.
To get a new start, I decided to pack up and move to Minneapolis. Life in the Twin Cities is a little more expensive than Green Bay, so I decided to get a job during my transition.
There I was, back in the corporate world as a graphic designer - which made sense since it’s what I went to school for. But after work hours, I found myself being drawn to side projects that allowed me to not only use my creativity, but also strategically help others with their big ideas. This is when I fell in love with building brands.
One of my first solo brand launches was with @whitneyysimmons - a fitness influencer who I met back when Instagram first started. Fast forward, she was standing at over a million followers, and reached out to me about having a logo created.
Through the exposure from that launch I gained enough followers to have an amazing audience of my own.
The happiness and success I felt after that creative experience, left me feeling extremely proud of myself. And sadly, that was a rare feeling at the time.
Not only did I love doing this type of work, but I felt gratified. And selfishly, validated. I felt like I had helped someone and it paid off.
After that happened, my boss later told me “I knew I couldn’t keep you here long.”
To be honest, I didn’t even recognize my change in emotion. She was the one that saw it spark something in me. That it lit a fire. That I was genuinely happy.
It was a perspective shifter.
I realized that I had always had a love for helping people build their dreams through my work.
There was no question about it. This was what I was meant for.
Looking back, I now know I wasn’t failing when I pivoted. I was simply navigating through the process of finding my passion.
Today, I’m a self-employed graphic designer and branding expert that helps people all over the country bring their vision to life. Recently, I also started a charitable organization called @coolcatladyclub, where we not only work to destigmatize the phrase “cat lady”, but give back to local rescues and humane societies at the same time!.
When it comes to my motivation, it all comes down to my clients. Every time I complete a project and see how they grow from it, I can see their confidence skyrocket, which in turn does the same for me! I can feel the glow from THEIR success radiating out of me, THEIR happiness becoming my happiness.
Even with all the joy surrounding the work I do, I still struggle with asking clients to pay me. I love what I do, which is why it doesn’t feel like “work” to me. So I often feel a sense of guilt asking someone to pay me for it.
When I have to send an invoice, I get anxious. I have to remind myself, “I just went above and beyond for this client - they are so happy. I deserve this!”
My boyfriend always tells me, “Just because you enjoy doing something that you are good at, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be compensated for it.”
That’s something that I really had to wrap my head around. I was doing so much free work to get my portfolio started in the beginning, and it was hard to make that shift.
But I’m working on it with every new client I work with. One of them is actually a mindset coach, and her mantra of “People love to pay me” has been something I constantly am repeating to myself.
It’s powerful because it’s the truth. If you’re doing something for someone, and you’re doing it well, they’re sincerely going to love to pay you.
Now I keep that phrase in my mind as a reminder to not only value my work, but to value myself as well.
When I try to think about what my purpose means to me outside of my work, it’s difficult. Everything that I do is kind of based around my career.
When I came to Minneapolis, I automatically thought I’d be this little fish in a huge pond. Everyone was going to be “better” than me, and everyone was going to have their resources locked down.
I was surprised when I learned it wasn’t that way at all, quickly realizing that you truly are what you make of yourself.
Personally, like a lot of people these days, I’ve struggled with self-worth.
Providing for others genuinely fills my “self-worth” cup up. Whether it was photography or design, I want to make people happy through my work.
If I’m making their dreams come true - I’m, in turn, making mine come true.
My self-worth is based off of the work that I do for others, but I know now that it’s not that my clients “need” me - they’re choosing me.
They’re choosing to invest their money with me. They’re choosing to put their time into me. They’re choosing to trust me with their business.
Changing the language around that feeling not only impacts the confidence I have in myself and my work, but the energy that I give off and surround the work with.
I’m a big believer in the love and fear spectrum. I think that every action you take is out of one of those emotions or the other.
When I have a second to reflect on a decision I make, I ask myself the question. “Is it love or fear that’s driving this decision?”
I do believe there are a lot of entrepreneurs making their decisions from love and their passions, but I also think a lot of big-dream people living in fear - wonding “what if I don’t succeed?
That’s one thing that a lot of my clients will come to me with. They’ll ask, “Should I start this new venture? What if nobody follows along?”
My response to them, “But what if they do?”
These conversations made me question if people are fearful of finding their purpose.
Is it a fear of failure? Is it a fear of being judged? What is the fear that’s holding people back from wholeheartedly jumping into their purpose at its deepest level?
Everyone has a purpose within them, and it takes unique journeys to uncover what that is for every individual. My journey is a good example of that. I had to stop making decisions out of fear and start following and listening to the decisions I was making out of love - love for my work, love for my clients, love for myself.
People who make those conscious decisions and dive in the deep end that are the ones who find their definition of success.
Yes, I am certain everyone has a purpose deep inside them.
It’s a matter of listening to it, acknowledging it, believing in it, and then whole-heartedly living it.
Brynna is an excellent example of how to live from a place of love.
Her honesty about anxiety, self-worth, a less-than-perfect money mindset, and doubt were awe-inspiring, and they reminded me that we never truly know what people are going through while they’re seeking fulfillment.
It’s so easy to get caught up in what we believe we “should” be doing, who we “should” be, what we “should” have accomplished by now.
Brynna pushed through those phases, but she’s open to the idea that she’s not at the finish line yet, that perhaps she never will be.
Like an archaeologist, she’s uncovering the pieces that make up her purpose, bit by bit, and organizing them in a way that makes sense for her life right now.
It’s a journey, and it’s a project that requires effort, patience, and the ability to rethink your hypotheses about who you really are and what you’re meant to do.
What beliefs do you hold about yourself and your purpose?
What stories do you tell yourself that could be holding you back?
Do you have deep-rooted emotions tied to your identity?