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Since quitting my job, I have received countless emails and questions on how I knew it was the “right time” and asking how I possibly had the courage to quit.


Well, in all honesty… I didn’t. I didn’t think ahead, nor was it really the right time. And I don’t always look at it as courageous, but I do look at it as a huge leap of faith. Most others who quit their job have saved up for months, planned it out strategically, and had a back-up plan. I’m not proud to say that I didn’t really do any of those things. But I did make a change that has greatly increased the quality of my life, faith, and relationships.


I didn’t always know that I wanted to write. I knew for years – in fact, if you look in my 8th grade yearbook, I answered the “What do you hope to be doing in 20 years” question with “I will have a family and be a writer.

But then I lost myself along the way. I am gracious for that, because it showed me new horizons, let me test the waters and allowed me to decide what I really wanted to do. Now, I have never been so sure of anything in my life, even if I do spend a lot of time doing this:

What can I say? I like to write the old fashioned way.


When I decided to give up personal training and found myself in a dead-end job, I had to take a long, hard look at what I really wanted. Thank goodness I began my blog out of boredom, otherwise it may have taken me years to follow my true passion.



I wanted to share with you some of the tips that helped me realize my dreams and work towards them. I know what it’s like to spend your weekdays in a miserable state – it almost makes you die inside. And I know it sounds cliché, but you really can do anything you put your mind to. However, like anything else, you only get out what you put in.

  • Make a decision. What do you love? If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do? Determine what is a “hobby” and what is “your work.” And decide if you love your hobby enough to turn it into your work.
  • Be realistic. Can you really turn your dream or your hobby into your work? For example, if I told Mr. How Sweet that I wanted to be an actress, and then quit my job and moved to Hollywood, we’d probably be in divorce proceedings at the moment. But instead, I focused on writing and dedicated myself to writing my blog every single day. If anything, it showed a commitment.
  • Make a commitment. Make a solid commitment to yourself that you will work EVERY day to get what you want. This means that you need to make sacrifices, but they will be well worth it in the end. Make a list of priorities, and put your dream right up on there. For me, writing came immediately after sleeping, exercising and nourishing my relationships. This often meant that I gave up other things to spend time on blogging – which at the time was my only form of regimented writing.
  • Stick to it. Keep the commitment to yourself. Remember, this is going to pay off in the end, but you must work towards it every single day. It will also make you feel better – you get to do something each day that you love! It is also realistic: whether your goal is to become a better writer or lose 20lbs, once you get a book deal or lose the weight you can’t just stop.  There is always room for improvement; so working everyday towards your goal just prepares you for when it becomes your real “work.”
  • Don’t make excuses. Sure, the economy stinks right now. And there may be no jobs in the field of your dreams. But if you continue to work at what you love (which most likely means volunteering), just imagine the head start you will have when the economy rebounds.
  • Stay positive. Working a little bit towards your dream each day puts you that much closer to it. Think about it – if you can work on it every day, or even just 300 days out of the year, it puts you THAT much closer to achieving it. I believe in karma, and I believe that I get out what I put in. There were so many days that I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry when I was working at a job that literally sucked the life out of me. I wanted to come home, lay on the couch and eat an entire bag of Cheetos.  But really, that would get me no where, except maybe to the store for larger pants.
  • Pray. I don’t care what you believe in, but saying a few prayers never hurt anybody. If anything, pray to be at peace with the situation. And if you don’t like to pray, well then skip over this step.
  • Don’t give up. It’s the cliché of all clichés, but it couldn’t be more true. When the going gets tough, just push back harder. It will pay off in the end.

I really have no idea what I’m talking about, but I know that these things helped me get through a really hard time in my life. I have friends and family members that are struggling with deciding on what they want to do, and this is the advice I give them: just work towards it every day. Make the necessary sacrifices, find the time. If you want it bad enough, you will do it.

Right?


What do you want bad enough?

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33 Responses to “So You Want To Follow Your Dreams?”

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    Kristina @ spabettie — November 2, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

    this list is awesome. especially the ‘don’t make excuses’. that never gets anyone anywhere.

    I have gotten where I am with a fine balance of planning and … just jumping in and taking chances! sometimes I thought “who am I to deserve this??” as they were telling me Yes – You’re Hired! Confidence takes you far!

    and anything worth having takes hard work.

    *talk about cliche! ;)

    Reply

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    Jessie K — November 2, 2010 @ 3:02 pm

    I have been wanting to start my own business so that neither of us would have to “work for” anyone else again. Sometimes it’s discouraging, I have kids and a hubby to care for and a house clean and look after. True an excuse is excuse no matter how it’s disguised. Thank you for encouraging me to continue to go after my goal!

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    Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com — November 2, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    You are so strong, so inspiring, so brave, and open. Wonderful advice. I whole heartedly believe in everything you wrote, and I believe in you as an incredible talent. Not just a talented writer, but a photographer, a cook, a baker, and honestly- a comedian. You’re hilarious, accessible, and at the end of the day- you’re someone I’d like to be friends with in real life. That speaks volumes to people.
    I wish you the best and I know that good things are coming your way. I just know it.

    But on another serious note- please don’t disrespect Cheetos ever again.

    Reply

    • Jessica — November 2nd, 2010 @ 3:17 pm

      I want to be real-life friends too!
      And I apologize about the Cheetos… just never really been a fan. ;)

      Reply

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    Kelly — November 2, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

    I found your blog a few weeks before you quit your job, and I’m so inspired. It is something I dream of doing almost every day. If my husband and I had any sort of real nest egg, I probably would have done it already. Maybe one day! I can’t wait to read what comes next for you, and what yummy recipe you make tomorrow!

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    Heather (Heather's Dish) — November 2, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

    did you write this for me? i think you did… ;)

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    Kaitlin With Honey — November 2, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    This is a really beautiful post. Thank you for sharing!

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    Natalia - a side of simple — November 2, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

    This is truly one of my favorite posts. It’s honesty is inspiring, thank you, Jessica. And I firmly believe that praying is one of the most important and fulfilling actions you can take in your life :) Looking forward to what the world has to offer you, and what you have to offer the world!

    Reply

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    Karen — November 2, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

    I love this post, not least because I quit my job without another to go to and my last day was — today! My new chapter began officially 2 hours ago :)

    I would add one thing that helped me know when the timing was right : check your motivation to make sure you’re choosing to move towards something you want rather than trying to get away from something you don’t want. I almost quit my job out of frustration many times, but I knew that would be running away rather than moving towards a dream. I stuck it out until I could get clear about what I really wanted, and once that happened decisions came easier …. which brings me to….

    … I beg to differ, just a little, about “being realistic.” Guess what I quit my job to do? Be an actor. I’m 48. With no acting experience to speak of. And I fully intend to end up in Hollywood. Not famous, necessarily, but in LA in the thick of things. I would change “be realistic” to “be flexible.” Be willing to let what actually manifests look different than what you’re picturing. Because I believe the Universe can deliver whatever experience you want – as long as you’re not too rigid about how you think the journey is supposed to go.

    My two cents (and then some :) ).

    Thanks for this completely awesome post! Will print it out to keep me on track.

    Reply

    • Jessica — November 2nd, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

      You go girl! I am very excited for you!

      And I only used actor as an example for myself, because it is not realistic for ME. If it is realistic for you, then you WILL achieve it.

      Thank you for your excellent tip too. Have a fabulous night – celebrate! :)

      Reply

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    Kayla — November 2, 2010 @ 4:27 pm

    I want to cook and write all day, every day!

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    Naomi(onefitfoodie) — November 2, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

    this made me SMILE seriously. I love what i do, I love being in the health industry. It is not the highest paying job I realize that and I think all the time…oh i could just do “x” and get more money, but what would that make me? probably miserable. I LOVE what I do and will never stray far from it. FOLLOW YOUR PASSION.

    your tips are not cliche at all, they are SO true especially staying positive and focused. So everyday won’t be a walk in the park…so what! if you have a goal and passion, your time will pay off!

    Reply

    • Jessica — November 2nd, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

      I know – your writing and blog just exudes your passions, you can seriously tell that you LOVE what you do. I am thrilled for you!

      Reply

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    Kalyn — November 2, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

    Thanks for sharing this post! I graduated from college a year and a half ago and still haven’t found my “dream job”. I decided to try cake decorating as a hobby and absolutely loved it. Because I did so well, I soon turned it into a business. It was fun at first, but then I began to hate it more than anything. I did not love my hobby enough to have it be “work” for me. Now I am at the point of “What do I do now?”. I don’t want to try something else only to end up failing again. As you can see, I am a little lost when figuring out what direction I am supposed to be taking in life, but your post was super encouraging for me to keep trying! Thank you!:)

    Reply

    • Jessica — November 2nd, 2010 @ 4:55 pm

      No worries – I have been there too! I am not sure how much of my blog you have read, but for the majority of my life I was dead set on being a personal trainer. I adored it for 5 years and loved my job, but eventually that wore off and I was ready for something else. I was (and sometimes still am) embarrassed to admit that I “failed” at what I always claimed (and sometimes fought with others) would be my career. My advice to you is don’t be afraid to fail – you have to take chances!

      The only real reason I know that writing is my thing is because I have written everyday for the last 14 months, and sort of used my blog as a guide/test job. Hopefully something similar will happen for you! All the best…

      Reply

    • Troy — November 4th, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

      So, here I am again…your blog makes me inspired AND hungry (my wife is good enough to try making some of your things way more often than she should ,YUM!). Anyway, I wonder why people consider experiences “failures”? I’ve had things in my life that didn’t always work out how I intended, but never once have I thought of them as failures. They are learning experiences, you learn what you like, what you don’t like, who to trust, what to do, what not to do, etc. My advice (to anyone but specifically to Kalyn)…pour your soul into everything and see where it takes you. Try a few things you wouldn’t normally do, volunteer, try working some job you think you might like, test it out. It’s good to have goals and reach for them but if life deals you a different card, just embrace the experience and learn from it. If everyone lived each day like it were their last, imagine all the passion that would be released into the universe? Take that thought and don’t worry about “failure”.
      I posted a few weeks ago that I lost my job, I’m finding it rewarding to work on a HUGE honey-do list and meanwhile some very nice job opportunities are flowing my way (less stressful environments, substantially more money, more intriguing industries to learn about). I’m sure I’ll land one of them in the next few weeks…too bad, since my list is not quite done.

      Reply

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    Rachel — November 2, 2010 @ 5:22 pm

    love it. I’m so impressed with you!! over the last few months I realized I’m in grad school for the wrong thing, since I definitely don’t want it bad enough and just making myself do the work I need to get done on a daily basis is a ridiculous struggle… now in the process of trying to figure out what I DO want bad enough… and it’s hard! :/ it’s always refreshing to hear from someone who took a couple tries to figure out what it was they REALLY wanted to do. congrats!!! :)

    Reply

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    Valerie from Sex, Food, and Rock & Roll — November 2, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

    I LOVE this post! I did this a year ago, and it looks like I may have to do it again in the near future (finally got a job in my career path but am having major, possibly legal, issues with coworkers). I really have to thank you because this post came at a very necessary time for me. I needed the reminder that the situation is not necessarily hopeless.

    So, thank you.

    <3

    Reply

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    Mellissa — November 2, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

    I started taking steps this week to starting my photography business, very scary but I know in the long run it will be worth it. Everyday is new adventure for me and my life has changed dramatically over the past year and a half and I am truly looking forward to what the future may bring.

    Reply

    • Jessica — November 2nd, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

      Congrats! That is a huge step!

      Reply

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    mags — November 2, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

    #1. I have a feeling that you’re having server problems because your blog is so popular!

    #2. Excellent post. You possess a lot more insight that I had originally thought. You pass off your intelligence as humor…which is adorable and which is why you have accumulated the fans that you have.

    #3. I’m going to make your autumn mac and cheese and cannot find a way to NOT give you complete credit for it because it is so unique.

    #4. You ARE a writer…. and I love your blog.

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    Melissa Miles — November 2, 2010 @ 8:06 pm

    This is great advice. I know you’ll get 200 “I’m so jealous!” responses, and I can only add to that number, but it really is very practical advice. I’m so happy for you, being able to do exactly what you love. Good for you. :)

    Reply

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    MelissaNibbles — November 3, 2010 @ 2:06 am

    I would also suggest having a month’s salary in a savings account. I’m a realist :)

    Great tips Jess and congratulations once again!

    Reply

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    Beth @ 990 Square — November 3, 2010 @ 9:43 am

    Thank you for being so honest with your readers. It’s always been hard for me to find balance between what I love (baking) and my day job (which isn’t really that bad). For me I think I need to keep what I love on the side, because I’m not sure how much I would love it if it was an obligation. But that’s just me!

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    Jihane (Sinful Sundays) — November 3, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

    I quit my job a year ago as a TV news editor even though every one else told me it was a dumb thing to do. I understood their concerns, but at the end of my long 10 hour days I was the one who was constantly unhappy and miserable–not them.

    I was scared out of my mind! I didn’t know how I would pay my student loans, rent, food, utilities —everything! I didn’t save much and my parents are broke so I was out in the cold (literally–I was living in Manhattan at the time).

    But, I took a leap of faith and knew that leaving to pursue a career in public policy AT THAT TIME IN MY LIFE would be my best bet. I felt that if I stayed at my old job then I would be stuck in the industry because I would get comfortable with it.

    I didn’t find a job for a while and I felt like a total failure at times. It was rough. But, like you said I didn’t give up, I stayed positive for the most part, and prayed.

    Your advice on making a commitment and sticking to it is SO SPOT ON. You have to. You have to ask yourself what is the goal that I’m working towards and how am I going to get there…it takes a while to hash out but once you do the possibilities are endless.

    Things are almost exactly like I hoped they would be now—a whole year later.  I got a position that I wanted, I work awesome hours, my boss is nice—things are good.

    So yea. I think what you’re doing is great! As far as being a writer, you’re already there. I come into work at 9:30am every morning, and by 9:35am I’m on How Sweet. I love it. Your writing style is endearing, your stories make me laugh out loud, and you often post 2 different entries everyday which is not an easy task. I feel like you can shop yourself and blog around and land an awesome position at a publishing company or something—just my thoughts.

    Things tend to work out in the long run. :)

    Reply

    • Jessica — November 3rd, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

      Wow this is an amazing story – and incredible that simple a year later you are already where you hoped to be. You are definitely an inspiration!

      And thank you so much – I read this in the midst of a really bad day and it cheered me up. You are awesome.

      Reply

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    Runeatrepeat — November 3, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

    Thanks! I’m at a sort of cross roads right now and need to be reminded to stick with it :)

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    Mary (A Merry Life) — November 3, 2010 @ 4:18 pm

    Beautiful and helpful post!

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    Meg @ Be Fit Be Full — November 3, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

    Congrats on quitting your job and following your passion! I am sure this post hit home with a lot of people who are struggling to be happy at their current jobs. Like you I didn’t have much of a plan either when I quit my job, but apparently life had plans for me since I am expecting!

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    Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun — November 3, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

    I feel like this post was taken right out of my head. LOL

    I love my blog and writing about things I am passionate about sharing. For that reason, I hope the hobby can become a form of work. I mainly hope that it will grow into something that can act as my work by the time I would feel the need to go back to working part time as the kiddos get older and are both in some form of school. That’s another about 3 years down the road, which makes my goal realistic in my mind. However, I know it will take commitment and determination. I am willing to sacrifice some things for that. My family is still #1 but I refuse to feel guilty for putting time into my blog, even when at home with Makenzie. I make it work because it matters and I don’t want to wonder what if? I pray A LOT and fully trust God to bring me to the best place for me, whether blogging is involved or not. I do know though that while I can blog, I will blog and I will give it my all. Great post Jess! I hope great things for both of us. :)

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    Bianca @ south bay rants n raves — November 3, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

    I must say that it takes a lot of guts to make a decision like that & I commend you for it because many people who are unhappy at a job continue to stay with it without looking for new work & what have you. I’ve quit jobs twice in my life after college & they’ve been the best decisions I’ve made! Best to you & thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply

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    Briana — November 4, 2010 @ 7:53 am

    I love this. Thinking about printing it out and putting smack dab on the front of my planner. How’s that for inspiration ? :) Good luck on your dreams girl !!

    Reply

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    Mackenzie @ The Caramel Cookie — November 5, 2010 @ 6:45 am

    A wonderfully inspiring post! Today is actually my last day at a job I have been wanting to leave for awhile. It was a difficult decision to make, to say the least. Some of my family doesn’t approve of my decision, but you have to what is right for you! No amount of money or success is worth the stress and depression of waking up every morning to job you absolutely do not like.

    Reply

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