"You're doing what now??!!"
I get that question frequently. And considering a mere 10 months ago, I was gainfully employed and working for "the man", friends and family members that I haven't seen in a while are surprised to hear that I've started my own business as a Professional Organizer.
Last year, I was making a nice living doing a job I was decent at for a company I didn't especially like anymore. My manager and the many friends I had at that company were the reason I stayed. So, on that fateful November day when hundreds of us got laid off (most of my work friends included), I was stunned but not heartbroken. However, I was TERRIFIED about finding another job...
I hadn't LOVED what I was doing. I liked it, but I didn't feel satisfaction doing it. It was a job that paid the bills. I was never that person that knew exactly what she wanted to do for a living. I was forever envious of my friends that have always known they wanted to become teachers, nurses, physical therapists, midwives, photographers and even crime scene investigators!
The day after being laid off, I immediately started contacting connections I had made throughout the years. I began updating my resume and searching for jobs. The thought of not being able to pay my mortgage terrified me. Sure, I was given a severance, but to be laid off just in time for the holidays was especially bad timing. I was told over and over again that companies generally wouldn't be hiring much, if at all, before the new year and perhaps not even until Q2. And given that I had been in the Oil & Gas industry, many companies were downsizing due to the low oil prices. I really didn't know what other kind of job, outside of the industry, I'd be able to find.
And then it happened. I went home to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and spent time at my sister's new house doing some projects to help her out. Her family of 7 had moved into a new home in September but in November, my 13-year-old niece's room was still not unpacked and was actually pretty bare bones. My mom and I teamed up to unpack and organize my niece's room while she was attending play practice. It took the entire day and Mom and I were gone by the time she got home from practice. "Oh my gosh, I love it!" she exclaimed to me via text. She had not known we were going to do this so it was fun to surprise her. (I think being 13 years old, she was simply overwhelmed at the thought of unpacking and organizing her room so she just ignored it and made due).
After that, another niece asked if I would "do" her room, too. I went over while she was at school and rearranged her room, put things on the walls, and reorganized her closet to make better use of her space. She loved it too! Then I tackled the play room in the basement...sorting and categorizing toys with storage bins, setting up an arts and crafts area and making the basement play area enticing for five kids to actually use. My boyfriend texted me from Colorado asking what I was doing and I told him. He responded with "Looks like you found your new career!" Whoa. Is this a thing???
It turns out I've always had a knack for decluttering, organizing and making better use of space. It had never, EVER occurred to me that there was such a thing as a Professional Organizer until my boyfriend had mentioned it to me. There was even that time a few years ago while visiting home in Wisconsin when I told my mom I wanted to clean out her basement. Yes, I was technically on "vacation" when I did this! My mom and stepdad were so thankful for my help and leadership. "This is my Everest!" I vividly remember telling them. Six carloads to Goodwill later, their basement was decluttered, tidied and organized. I wish I would have had the foresight to take before and after photos, clearly not realizing that it was my first project!
So here I am, a small business owner after working in Corporate America for 9 years. I'm making a living doing something I really love and I'm genuinely GOOD at. What a difference 10 months makes!