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Inspiration for the Day

Happiness is. . . Having the Career that you Love

By 02/21/2009January 26th, 201719 Comments

“People ask me all the time how can they get this life that I have where I do something I love, get to make my own hours, and support a family. Seems great, right? But that life also comes with this: having no idea how I’ll get paid next. And it happens all the time.” Penelope Trunk

I mentioned Penelope’s blog in a post I recently wrote about why blogging is good for your career.
I love her blog because she gives the kind of career advice I would have loved to get ten years ago when I started my own design business and was filled with all the insecurities that come with working for yourself, trying to ‘make-it’ doing what you love, while looking for support in not selling out and going back to the corporate job that fit better into my comfort zone in the first place!!

Penelope’s bottom line advice on which career to choose? (You know, the corporate one or the freelance designer one?) “I just choose the lifestyle I want first, before I choose my work. I am a freelance writer because if I worked nine-to-five I wouldn’t see my kids. That’s my bottom line. 
There have been so many times when I’ve told myself that I can’t stand the instability of a freelancer’s life. But more than that, I can’t stand the idea that I would only see my kids on the weekends.”

So that’s it. Choose the life you want and then choose the work that goes with it. Because the instability part she’s talking about? That is the part that goes hand-in-hand with being a freelancer! It’s about carving out your niche as a designer and that takes some trial and error to begin with!

All images by Roland Bello

I decided 10 years ago that I have to be creative or die, and I would have loved this advice during the times when I truly questioned whether it was really in me to live the freelancers life. And then after a while, I started to trust myself and my abilities. I began surrounding myself with other designer friends that I could network with and exchange ideas and information with, and I discovered that I was not alone on the creative path. . .

Michelle Morelan (A Schematic Life), Nancy DeVries (Urban Aesthetics) Maria Killam (Colour me Happy) and Victoria Lambert (DesignTies)

Speaking of designer friends, I met Victoria Lambert from DesignTies for the first time last night at the Cantu Party along with a few of my friends (above). So great!

So now you have another way to approach the question of the creative job vs. the corporate one—if that happens to be the place where you are right now. Did I mention it’s totally worth it?

Have a great weekend!

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  • TWB says:

    I’m an avid reader of your blog and you’ve been TAGGED!!!

    Please wirte 6 interesting things about yourself, tag 6 more people, and then let them know they have been tagged.

    Let’s keep this circle going.

    Get to writing!

  • michelle says:

    I totally agree…I felt a little like Dilbert in my old job. You really do have to wrap your job around your life, not vice versa.

    And…I wouldn’t have met all you fantastic new friends if I had not ventured out on my own.

    All I can say, is it’s feast or famine. That’s a tough one to get used to.

  • Dale says:

    I have most admiration for you to start and grow your own successful design business. I tried going out on my own for a year once, and wow was it ever feast or famine. I survived, and loved the freedom, but I could not get used to the business part of the job, and don’t have a flare for marketing myself. But I’m glad you do, and that you are happy in your career. That is the most important thing (besides family and friends).

    “..I have to be creative or die.” LOVE IT!

  • Ivy Lane says:

    I totally connected to this post! I am a Realtor, and know the feeling of not knowing when I’ll get paid next..Helping people is the best motivation for me to keep going! The look on someone’s face when they have found “THE house” is always priceless and so exciting! It is also great fun to see homes after a client has moved in and made it their own.

    I admire you for taking the plunge to do what you love! Wishing you all the best!

  • DesignTies says:

    Maria, thank you so much for posting this. I know that I HAVE to follow my dream to be a decorator. It’s what I love doing the most. I think about decorating ALL the time.

    My 9-to-5 job is so NOT me. It’s so unsatisfying. I don’t get any happiness or sense of accomplishment from it. I’m under-paid, under-valued, and under-appreciated. Not to mention that I’m wasting time at a job that frustrates me that I COULD be spending doing something that I love!!

    I’m taking the first small steps to achieving my goal — and following the wonderful advice in this post is one of them 🙂

    Thank you, Maria!!


  • Mrs B says:

    Hi Maria….I actually discovered your amazing blog through Design Ties so I must admit feeling very excited seeing a picture of Victoria standing next to you. There is something really nice about putting a face to a fellow blogger.
    Can I also say your articles on colour are just terrific! So detailed and always a full explanation why a room works well. I enjoy reading all your posts so looking forward to more design and colour tips!
    Mrs B

  • pve design says:

    Perfect post. I too feel grateful to do what I love! Love the positive energy of this post – to design and create the life you want is an amazing thing, right!

  • Haven and Home says:

    Wow, you could have been writing this post just to me. Last year I started my own decorating company and while it has its highs, there are also many lows. Like now that a bunch of projects are finishing where are my next clients coming from? Especially in a recession?

    Thank you for the inspiration. So many times I think maybe I should go back to my corporate job, but that would be only for a paycheck and I know there is more to life than that.

  • chanteusevca says:

    Maria, You always hit the nail on the head — or the color on the color wheel! This post is right up my alley. Even though I love reading decorating blogs, I doubt I will ever be a decorator or designer. But after being in a corporate position for almost 25 years and leaving it abruptly last year, I can honestly say I don’t miss it. Yes, I think about the big bonuses that I could have used this year to remodel the kitchen like we planned. But I have no regrets in leaving that life behind. And now I’m beginning to embark on my own adventure. I’ve met so many people recently who are helping me along this new way. I’ll be working on my novels more and even singing with a jazz band for my supper at times. But I will be having fun and becoming more of the creative being that I really am and living with less stress and less excess of stuff that isn’t important in the first place.

    Thanks again for always coloring my world a bright and happy one!


    ~~ Victoria

  • DesignTies says:

    We talked a little about this the other night at the Cantu party, didn't we… the need to be creative and live our dream… so true! I've waited a long time, but now it's time to make my dream come true!! Scary part – taking that step that means leaving a comfortable, reliable salary/benefits for the unpredictable. Yikes!!

    What a lovely time we had at the Cantu party, surrounded by beautiful bathroom "stuff"! And it was fantastic to meet Maria & Michelle… and I also got to meet Nancy (in the photo), a friend of Maria's, and two of Maria's previous colour-coure students. Thanks again, Maria, for inviting me along!!


  • Pam Kersting says:

    What a great post and so true. You all are so lucky to have such a talented and creative group of bloggers up there to bounce ideas off of each other and compare notes! I always believe two heads are better than one! Have you ever thought of collaborating on any thing?!

  • Meade Design Group says:

    How was the Cantu party?

  • Patricia Gray says:

    Great advice Maria “Follow your Bliss”. Sorry I missed you all at the Cantu party.

  • Karena says:

    Maria, such insightful offerings! I am in corporate so I have the mix of my business world, which is challenging yet invigorating; then my art. I was up until 3 last night sketching after attending the Kandas City Artists’ Coalition benefit. So inspired by all othe the artist’s works auctioned. Including my own!

  • Things That Inspire says:

    It is so wonderful to read about people following their passions, and following their hears. It is great when passions (the things you love), performance (the things you are good at), and the pragmatic (the things you need to survive) intersect – and when they do, this is a happy career.

    The thing I have enjoyed so much about blogging is finding kindred spirits – people who love art, design, and architecture as much as me. I do not seem to have people like this in my real life, so maybe I need to work on finding people like this!

  • Meade Design Group says:

    Happy are the Happy – Borjes

  • Lara Harris says:

    I SO agree with you, I did enjoy teaching for 6 years, but my true passion is life is painting…I cannot go for more than a couple days before I just have to get the brushes out!There is nothing better in life than following your passion and dreams!:o)

  • C.J. says:

    I was a realtor for 29 years and although I enjoyed the challenge of it I got bored with the same old things. I am creative as well and decided (after retiring) 🙂 that I did not want to retire but wanted to make money working at something that I loved. Anything creative, I decided to become a home stager and am now setting up my web site. I am excited, happy and ready. What is the worst that can happen? Nothing. Thanks Maria for your posts, I really enjoy them.

  • Kate says:

    "I have to be creative or die" is really resonating with me. I thought for the longest time that I could have the fulfilling life I desired doing nothing but working (9-5, as a corporate drone) and trying to squeeze in fun activities during my time off. I now see that I need my creative outlets or else.

    Your series on how to be a better blogger really are an inspiration. Thank you.

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