Doing What You Love: An Unexpected Journey to My Dream Job

posted by Andrea | 02/5/2014

doing what you love

Seven years ago (almost to the day) I walked through the front door of my very first in-home organizing client.

I was  hardly 21 years old, just a few months out of college, a few months into my marriage, and a few months into my first real job.

I had no business name, no business cards, no business experience, no website, no real “training”, and honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

However, there were a few things I DID know:

1. I didn’t love my full-time job all that much

2. I liked the idea of setting my own schedule and working from home

3. I REALLY loved helping others get organized and simplify their homes and lives

4. I was good at helping others get organized and simplified

5. I liked making money and I wasn’t afraid of a little hard work :)

So 7 years ago, I started an in-home organizing business — and I can honestly say that NO part of me ever guessed I’d be doing what I’m doing now! 

what do you love doing

I’ve always been somewhat entrepreneurial; and growing up, I can vividly remember my parents encouraging me to think about what I loved doing most, and then figure out a way to get paid for doing those things.

SIDE NOTE: It’s my Dad’s birthday today — Happy Birthday, and thanks for the great advice :)

So when I went to my very first organizing appointment full of anxious anticipation, I vividly remember thinking “what if this is IT? what if this is THE THING that will allow me to make a living doing what I love?”

But things definitely didn’t go as planned. 

I did enjoy doing the organizing, but I didn’t LOVE it as much as I thought I should. It was a ton of work, lots of heavy lifting, digging through strangers’ dirt, dust, and grime, dealing with cancellations, driving long hours in bad weather, etc. etc.

Plus, as I mentioned in this post, things were really slow in the beginning and I hardly made any money those first 3 years. Not only was I not doing something I truly loved, I also wasn’t making money — definitely not ideal!

I knew there had to be a way to make a living AND do what I loved — I just needed to find it.

I would often joke with people and tell them that my DREAM JOB would simply be a more practical, down-to-earth, version of Martha Stewart (minus the fake smile, pastel button-ups… and jail time.)

Can you see the resemblance?!?

martha and me

After all, I loved to cook, clean, bake, decorate, organize, plan, entertain, garden, etc. etc. etc. and I was good at all of that stuff too. I just needed to figure out how to get paid for doing those things.

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Thankfully, Dave was always supportive from the very beginning, and he kept encouraging me to expand and try new things. I also had a couple good friends who kept “pushing” me to start a blog. They explained that I could share my love for cleaning, organizing, cooking, house projects, gardening, etc. via the web and maybe SOMEDAY down the line, I’d be able to make an income from it.

At the time, none of us really understood how blogs worked, but I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

It was very humbling writing blog post after blog post, day after day, with almost no page views, no comments, and certainly no income — but I did enjoy doing it and it was fun to document all the projects I was doing.

Slowly the traffic started coming, and with it, a teeny, tiny bit of income started rolling in. Then, I was asked to write a few paid guest posts… and only a couple months later, I got my first job as a Virtual Assistant for another blog.

All of a sudden, I was making a small part-time income just from “sitting at home on my computer”.

And you know what… I LOVED it!

Over the next 2 years, I slowly transitioned to the online world and by the time Nora was born, I was making a full-time income online (read more about that here).

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Although it most definitely was not a quick and easy career change (it took 5 relatively frustrating years of working way more than full time to finally earn a full-time income) I feel beyond blessed to say that I truly do what I love and love what I do.

Obviously, there are hard days, rough weeks, and bumpy roads to navigate (just like any job) but for the most part, I feel as though I’m helping people, I’m enjoying myself, I’m doing something I’m passionate about, and I’m able to stay home and take care of my family at the same time (not that it’s necessarily easy to juggle it all — but I really can’t complain too much!)

And wouldn’t you believe that one of the VERY FIRST comments I ever got here on this blog said,

“Love the look and style of your blog Andrea — aren’t you just a little miss Martha Stewart!”

It looks like I found my dream job after all!

 

Since February is the month of love, I thought it might be kind of fun for all of us to sit back and reflect on what we would absolutely LOVE to do if we could do anything in the whole world.

It might be working full-time, part-time, over-time, from home, outside the home, doing volunteer work, or staying at home with the kids full-time — whatever it is, I’d encourage you to really sit down and ask yourself, “Do I love what I’m doing?”

And if not, ask yourself, “If I could do anything, what would it be? What is MY dream job?”

do you love what you do

So do you love what you do?

And no, I don’t expect you to love what you do 100% of the time (even moms can’t say we love mothering 100% of the time!) I’m just talking about “in general” do you enjoy what you do on a daily and weekly basis?

Do you feel like you’re making a difference?

Do you feel fulfilled at the end of the day?

Do you feel excited to get back to work and learn more about your field?

If so, count your blessings and give thanks for a job, or volunteer work, or a family and a home you love.

If you’re simply working for the paycheck — I totally get that too and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Any job is something to be grateful for in this economy — but that still doesn’t mean you can’t dream just a little!

You never know what a little dreaming (and a lot of hard work) might turn into! 

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31 comments

  1. Stephanie

    02/05/2014

    Congratulations on reaching your dream job AND getting paid for it. Your blog is the only one I consistently follow. I love your advice, your simplicity, and your attitude.

    I also have found the job I love – being a mom! My paychecks come in the form of dirty diapers and sticky face kisses, though.

    Happy birthday to your dad – it is also my son’s first birthday today!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Stephanie — and super glad you love your job too. Some “dream jobs” definitely don’t come with glamorous paychecks! Neither Dave or I make millions, but we both really love our jobs so that’s saying something.

    And happy first birthday to your little boy :)

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  2. Deb

    02/05/2014

    “minus the jail time” cracked me up…………..LOVE your blog.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    thanks Deb — Dave thought I should leave that part out, but I thought it was funny :)

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  3. Michele Daggar

    02/05/2014

    I really enjoy reading your blog everyday. For someone so young, you have obviously figured out much about enjoying your life. I can tell you will always be successful at whatever comes your way. Can’t wail to see pictures of Nora’s baby brother soon!
    Best of luck.

    [Reply]

  4. Kim

    02/05/2014

    I, too, thought the jail time comment was hilarious!!!

    Unfortunately, I am currently in a job that is just for the paycheck :(, since the hubby is still in school, making a career change just isn’t in the cards right now. However, one day, I will be working towards a position that is more of fit for me (includes organizing, budgeting and communicating) and I will still be able to use my degree! Always a plus, considering I do NOT want to go back to school and spend more money.

    Congrats to you for finding something that you not only enjoy but that you are fantastic at!!! I love your advice, organizing tips and recipes and look forward to reading it every day that you post! Ha, I hope you keep this going for a years and years to come and we can “grow old together” Lol!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kim — I hope I can keep the blog going for several years too! And yes, I assume that if the hubby is still in school, your income is pretty important. There’s a lot to be said for just “doing what needs to be done”. When we first got married, I worked for a paycheck to pay off our student loans. That was my goal — not to find my dream job.

    Once our loans were paid off, then I started getting a little more adventuresome and daring with my business.

    [Reply]

  5. Melissa

    02/05/2014

    Thank you Thank you Thank you so much for this post. I have been debating about quitting my accounting job which has turned into a lot more recently (such as the last 3 months) and had a family friend die just 10 days ago who was only 36 who I attended the funeral for last night. It just seems odd that you post this right after my husband and I talk about me staying home with our two girls, one of which doesn’t sleep well and is 2 and is a little more high maintenance then most kids. I have a long arm quilting machine that I bought a year and a half ago that I could really make some money doing that but I have just been scared. Fear of failure. Fear of people thinking I am nuts because from the outside it looks like I have made it in corporate america, but can I just say that it is very lonely at the top in corporate america. My youngest that doesn’t sleep well likes to act out if she doesn’t get enough mommy time and let me tell you that can be anywhere literally! Not to say that starting a work at home business will be easy, but I have been trying for the past 6 months and my full time job just keeps becoming more and more demanding. So my husband and I are thinking of me just working up until May to save more money, and starting my business as much as I can and calling it enough for now. Anyways, sorry for rambling. Thanks for such a great post and “sharing” your life the good and the bad. Some of are watching and picking up on bits and pieces where we can:)

    [Reply]

    Debby Reply:

    Melissa,
    There is no success without failure. Go for it. Put it in God’s hands and believe that it will all work out.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Melissa!
    Well please don’t quit your job on account of this post!! But if it’s something you and your husband feel strongly about, I do think you should look into other options.

    Starting an at-home business is definitely not easy or glamorous (and I honestly can’t imagine doing it with kids) but if it’s something you really love, it’s 100% worth all the hard work — I promise!

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  6. Debby

    02/05/2014

    I love this post. I work as a caregiver in one of the biggest hospital’s in this country. I do get fulfillment out of my job and I do feel like I make a difference. However, my dream job is to be another Nicole Curtis from Rehab Addict. Ever since I can remember, I would pass houses that looked like they needed love and I could envision them how they looked in their Glory Days. I always think ” Oh if they just cut back those bushes people could see how cute that house is” or ” Gosh I would love to go in that old rundown Victorian, I bet there is great woodwork in there.” That’s what I would love to do day in day. So I guess I would still be a caregiver. Just to homes not people.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Debby — and yes, I totally hear you with the Nicole Curtis. It would be SOOOO fun to do something like that — but I have a feeling her schedule is CRAZY!
    Truthfully, I would never want to do what Martha Stewart does on a daily basis :)

    ALso, I do have to commend you for your job — I could never do what you do but am so thankful there are people like you who love taking care of others every single day.

    [Reply]

  7. Freya

    02/05/2014

    I’ve spent way too many years getting fancy degrees from a field I don’t care about. I’m stuck now with a crown and cannot escape from it. However, since I’m currently without a job, I cannot help to wonder, is this the opportunity for a drastic change I was waiting for? More importantly, what should I do? Where should I start? There is a lot of things to think about. One thing is for sure, stories like yours Andrea are a well needed inspiration! Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    So sorry you’re without a job right now — but I do know of many successful people who have used unemployment as an opportunity to start something new — something that becomes their dream job.

    Best of luck as you search for whatever that is!

    [Reply]

  8. Rebecca

    02/05/2014

    I’m only a bit older than you are, and have chosen for now to remain in a single, no kids part of life, but I really enjoy reading your blog, and can honestly say that I love what I do. I teach university level music students, and chose this path because I do feel like I can help change lots of people’s worlds, one person at a time! Your post is a good reminder of what there is to be thankful for, even in an extremely busy part of the year.

    [Reply]

  9. Daniele @ Domestic Serenity

    02/05/2014

    This is such an encouraging post – thank you for sharing it! Like you mentioned, sometimes it takes a while to get to your dream job, but it’s so very worth the hassle. I’d say I’m living my dream too — homeschooling Mom, writer/blogger and working alongside my husband in our church. There are days when it feels wacky, but most of the time, I truly love it and feel I’m making a difference in each of those areas. Thanks again!

    [Reply]

  10. Kristen @ Joyfullythriving

    02/05/2014

    I’m so happy for you, Andrea! I know it takes a lot of work to run a blog – and to grow it as you have done. I’m transitioning from full-time teaching to being a stay-at-home Mom with our baby boy (due a month after yours), and am going to work more at growing my blog to supplement my income. I already teach piano and music to supplement our income, but it would be nice to stay at home and supplement even more. Like you explained so well, it does take hard work, but I am so happy that you have found your dream job and made it a reality!

    [Reply]

  11. Jen

    02/05/2014

    You’ve come a long way in those five years and how great it is that you can say you love what you do! I’m just starting an organizing related blog and hopeful that one day it will allow me to stay home and work as well. It’s hard work like you say, but when you love what you do, it often doesn’t feel like work. Keep up the great writing and encouragement!

    [Reply]

  12. Heart and Haven

    02/05/2014

    I’m very lucky to have my “dream job” as well! I own several rental properties and handle all the property management. I love it!!! Everything from finding the right properties for my portfolio, to fixing them up on a budget, building rapport with my tenants and providing them with a clean, safe, and affordable housing. There has been our share of challenges for sure (ie. what condition the tenants will leave the place when they vacate, handling emergency repairs, etc.), but I thrive on every challenge and really do love it.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is similar to what my dad does too — he’s very good at it and he really enjoys the flexibility. But yes, he’s had to deal with some crazy issues too!

    So glad you have your dream job :)

    [Reply]

  13. Erica

    02/05/2014

    Congrats on your 7 year anniversary blogging! I’m doing what I love (writing) part of the time. Hoping that once I publish my ebook I’ll be able to make more income from writing and eventually replace my income from my full-time job with my writing income.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Erica,
    I’ve actually only been blogging for 3 years (not 7) but I had my very first client 7 for my organizing business 7 years ago :)

    [Reply]

    Erica Reply:

    Ah, ok.

    [Reply]

  14. Kalyn Brooke | Creative Savings

    02/05/2014

    Love this! There are certainly days when I wake up and am tired of my job, but that’s usually because I’ve been working too much. When I step back, and actually take a break, I realize how good I really have it, and all that hard work pays off!

    Oh, and my dad’s birthday is today too. :)

    [Reply]

  15. Crystal

    02/05/2014

    LOVE your shirt! Home Apparel dot com was at the Atlanta gift show in January and I just had to buy every state for my store. (Although I bought the vinyl decals, not the shirts.) I run a college bookstore that has students from all 50 states and 63 foreign countries. They are homesick, even if they don’t admit it LOL! I mostly do what I love. I like being a manager and being bossy :) but I LOVE being a buyer. I get to shop with OPM (other people’s money) and I travel to different shows and just walk, and walk, and walk. I talk to tons of business owners and I meet other buyers from huge companies. And I get to spend thousands of dollars while doing what I love. I am going to a food show next week and it’s so fun!
    I am so glad you have found what you love, because I probably read your blog 5 times a week!

    [Reply]

  16. Brandi Clevinger

    02/05/2014

    That’s a great story of how you got started and I was very excited for you when you went through the re-branding stages!

    Even though I get almost no comments and barely 50 page views per day, I still love blogging! I like writing, designing my website, learning as I go, and being part of the blogging community. I write each post and put in the best effort I can as though I get thousands of views per post. haha I know it sounds silly, but I always do something wholeheartedly or nothing at all. I don’t plan on making money from blogging, but I do plan on helping others and have viewing traffic one day!

    [Reply]

  17. Riette

    02/06/2014

    What a wonderful and inspiring post!

    I want to thank you for your blog Andrea, I’ve been reading and browsing around for about two weeks now and I love the information you put out there.

    I am working on creating my dream job (also a blog – I love being at home with my kids and sitting in front of my computer), but today is a particularly hard day as I woke up with a bad cold and just feel a little overwhelmed by the unsure feeling of “what if what I’m trying do doesn’t work?”

    So thank you for this post and reminding me that hard work, patience and a passion for what you do does pay off in the end.

    [Reply]

  18. Jen

    02/06/2014

    MY dream job would be YOUR job! Do you need an assistant?? HAHA

    Love your blog-and since western Michigan was our home for nearly ten years, I love reading about and seeing familiar places from time to time!

    Congratulations on reaching for your dreams and achieving them! Many blessings!

    [Reply]

  19. Tracy

    02/06/2014

    Good for you!

    My work developed itself into a business when volunteering with memory loss patients and using music classes to enhance speech and mobility. I was very influenced by a book called ‘Do What You Love and the Money Will Follow’, about how people will recognize your passion and skills and pay to use them.

    I haven’t found it’s made me rich but it means I can work an hour here and there yet earn a wage I can live on, which means I can cope with a disability which would prevent me working longer conventional hours. I can’t stand now for more than a few minutes at a time so being able to manage my health without signing up for disability is a big thing to me, I love working and intend to work until the day I die!

    [Reply]

  20. Wai Leng

    02/08/2014

    I have been following your blog for the past 1 1/2 years. I love your practical advice on cleaning and organizing. I am happy for you to have found what you love to do and what you are good at from a young age.
    I live in the city in an Asian country where it is common and affordable to have a live-in maid. After 15 years of marriage and 3 maids ( in 12 years) , I am ashamed to say I am terrible at homemaking and organizing. When my last domestic helper left , I was Lost!!! I am so glad to have found your blog!
    I have learned so much about purging and organizing and other aspects of managing a home;
    A big thank you to you !!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Wai! I’m glad my blog has been helpful for you and I really appreciate your kind words!

    [Reply]

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