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5 things i wish i’d known when i decided to follow my dreams

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What if? What if you decided to do something so radical, so unlike yourself, so risky that it absolutely changed everything? In the best way possible? What if you stopped asking yourself “what if” and you just stepped out in a bold move to chase that wild dream? What if your PURPOSE, that stunning beauty-of-a-thing you were CREATED FOR was just around the corner?

Sometimes we’re so caught up in the day-to-day. The chores right in front of us. The STUFF that bogs us down and keeps us from dreaming. I’m challenging you to take a peek around the corner with me. Just a 2-second glance. Because there it is. Are you going after it? Or would you rather stay back? In your safe routine?

I’m certainly no expert, but I get this question a lot. So I’ve been thinking about it lately. It’s been on my heart to share with you. Because maybe YOU are in this place right now. You don’t LOVE your current job. It doesn’t feel like what you were MADE to do. Well, before you take a leap of faith, here are 5 things I wish I’d known before I decided to follow my dreams.

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(Here I am on my first day of design school. What an exciting day. I wanna tell that girl to BUCKLE UP! Whoa, she does not even know what’s ahead.)

1.That little voice inside? Listen. But make sure you’re listening to the RIGHT voice.

We all have it. That voice inside that’s telling us what we love. What we’re good at. What makes us crazy happy. Yes! Please listen to THAT voice! That’s the ONE! Trouble is, there’s also another thing we hear. The doubts. The “you’re not good enoughs.” The “who do you think you are?” Sometimes this voice is so loud (or we LET it be so loud), it drowns out the good voice. Stop that. When I decided to follow my heart, my passion, I figured it would be ALL “good voice in my head” time. Does that make sense? I thought that just because I was going to “school” for design, that would squash any doubts, and I would magically be an expert, totally confident in myself. Huh. How cute. I was so naive. It’s an EVERY DAY DECISION to block out that voice. To remember who I am in Christ, and that He has a plan for my life. That following this dream, this fun adventure that God created me for, is right where I’m supposed to be.

2.Following your dream is exciting and fulfilling.

If someone would have told me a couple years ago I would be doing this as a CAREER someday, I would have laughed. No, no, no, silly. I decorate and design for myself. No one else. What if they don’t like it? What if I don’t really have ANY talent at all? Getting over those types of questions has been so exciting. I have found I rely SO MUCH on the Lord in everything I do…especially in my work. My prayer from the beginning has been that as God opens doors, I’ll walk through them. It’s absolutely thrilling to pursue a dream. When things all start making sense, and you look at your past experiences, failures, jobs that didn’t work out, and you see that He was shaping you for THIS. That everything you learned along the way was for a purpose. This purpose.

3. Following your dream is terrifying and humbling.

Oh ya. Stepping out…it ain’t easy. Getting over yourself and all your reasons it will never work, all the questions and doubts and fears. And then once you get into the thick of it, you make mistakes. You feel dumb. You start comparing yourself to others in your field and you feel like you don’t belong. Guess what? EVERYONE DOES THAT. Even the best of the best…the one you have on a pedestal in your mind? She questions herself. She makes mistakes. She feels like she doesn’t measure up sometimes. It’s all part of it, sister. Sure, it’s scary. Sure, you feel like an idiot sometimes. You can wallow in that for awhile (I am a professional wallower), and then hopefully you have someone in your life who will tell you to stop having a pity party, and just GO OUT AND BE AWESOME. No? Ok, then I’m telling you. Stop having a pity party and just GO OUT AND BE AWESOME.

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(Here I am with my hubby on my “graduation day” from design school…He is my greatest support and the one that kicks me out of my pity party on a regular basis 😉 ).

4. Being “new” to anything is not easy. Or fun. Be transparent about it! It removes the fear.

WHYYYYYYYY do we do this? We’re fearful that we won’t be able to meet expectations. So we immediately turn to worry. We drum up all kinds of things about what others must be thinking or saying about us, and how we’re so inadequate.  So we just need to go eat worms. Ugh. Being new is WORK. It can be difficult when every situation you come across is a completely new frontier and you have to wade your way through it (that explains my reoccurring dream about running under water). Guess what? I’ve found that being honest is the best policy. “Oh, it’s my first time here. Can you show me where such and such is?” “Oh, that’s not my area of expertise, I focus more on this part of the process.” FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS…we can’t be ALL things to ALL people. That was never the purpose.

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(Graduation day! Here I am with my beautiful and ultra-inspiring teacher, Jan Springer.)

5. Doing what you feel like God CREATED you to do is the MOST beautiful thing.

You might be sick of hearing it by now. But it’s so true. People who are fulfilling their life’s calling almost glow. They exude a joy about what they’re doing. I’ve always admired this in others, and longed for it in my own life. So consider this today. What is it that you ENJOY like nothing else? Maybe it’s something you do “just for fun” but it brings happiness to the people in your life? What does that look like for you? Does it translate into a job of some kind or a way you can volunteer your talents? Start dreaming a little! Write it down. What would be your wildest goal? The ultimate thing you could imagine? BUCKLE UP. I’ve found that I couldn’t even have dreamt any of this. As I’ve learned to rely on the Lord for literally EVERYTHING, and He’s drawn me so much closer to Him, He continues to surprise me. You want THIS little farm girl to do WHAT? Ok. As long as you’ve got me? I’m in.

THINKING ABOUT A CAREER IN DESIGN FOR YOURSELF?

If decorating and design just happens to be your passion as well, this is for you. I hear from people all the time that are wondering how to turn their love of design/decor into a job. How do you make the transition? How do you find clients? What do you charge? Do you have to go to school?

I’m not an expert. But I can tell you about my experience. And hopefully that can be an encouragement to you!

I’ve always had an interest in design/decorating. We moved fairly often as a young married couple, and I always enjoyed decorating each home, and using our things in new ways at each stop along the way. That lead into decorating for church events, doing work for friends and family (mostly for free), and eventually I sold repurposed furniture/accessories at a cute local shop. That became old, because I was a busy young mother after all, and design got tabled for a bit. Eventually I went back to work part time in the school system for some “fun money.” Meanwhile, my creativity dwindled. I no longer felt “in touch” with what was happening in design. My personal style has always leaned “country” or “farmhouse”, but I felt like maybe I was out of it? I didn’t see a lot of it around and figured, as usual, I was clueless. Then in 2014 we decided to build a house. Once I tapped into that side of my brain, the creativity flowed. LIKE CRAZY. I couldn’t sleep at night, there were so many ideas. My hubby asked when I was going to quit my job and do what I really wanted to do, and that was it. I quit. I did? Did I just do that? What the heck? I don’t do stuff like that. WHO ARE YOU JANNA ALLBRITTON????

Now here’s the part you need to know. After looking into design programs in the area, I enrolled in Heritage School of Interior Design in Portland, Oregon (see their website here). It. Was. Everything. A lot of people said “Why do you need to go to school? You can do it without that!” For me, it was all about confidence. How to run a business. How to source items for my clients. And so much more. On the design side, my teacher once said, “You already know the music. I’m just teaching you the lyrics.” YES!!!! That was exactly the truth. If you love design, you already have a great eye. You already have a feel for what works. The program at Heritage just taught me the words that go with it, and gave me the tools I needed to make it a career. The most exciting new thing at Heritage is their introduction of an on-line program. If you’re across the country, but you want to benefit from a GREAT program, please take a look at their website. You can read about the online program here, and please tell them I sent you!

Ok. Get your paper out. Nooooo….you need a bigger piece than that. Start writing down your dreams. What are your priorities? How do you want to use your talents to be a world-changer? Now give it all to HIM. And BUCKLE UP for an amazing ride.

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  • March 12, 2016 - 6:25 pm

    Kristin Mahan - Janna, thank you so much for this. I feel like you wrote it just for me! Decorating my home, inside and outside is what brings me joy. I am always thinking about it.
    I have a good job, but it’s not my passion.
    I’m from Eugene and the online option for classes looks very interesting. I’m going to look into this further.
    Thanks again for sharing your journey.

    KristinReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 6:52 pm

    Natalie - Thank you for writing this! I feel as though I am being led each day to the inspiration, advice, and direction I need to take the leap. I know I was given a gift that I want to share. A gift that has brought me so much joy (and sleepless nights from a busy mind!). Thank you, thank you for this post and your example! I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me ?ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 7:35 pm

    Karli - Thank you for this wonderful post. What an inspiration you are. I just left a long time career in PR in December to pursue my dream of having a small furniture and décor business. Your words spoke to so many of the doubts and dreams I had for the year before I decided to make the move. And now, your thoughts about officially going back to school have planted a new seed. Bless you for sharing your thoughts and inspiring others!ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 8:07 pm

    Jamie B. - Janna, I am so thankful that you felt lead to share your story and advice. Putting your trust in the Lord and allowing him to direct your life is absolutely wonderful. Maybe you were so compelled to share this because God knew that some of us needed to know these exact things at this exact moment. I am definitely one of those people. After giving it much thought, both good and bad, I jumped into my passion for design and repurposing just three weeks ago. It all started with a conversation between God and myself. I’m following my heart with much excitement. I’m not sure where it will lead me but, I’m willing to find out.
    Thank You
    -JamieReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 8:11 pm

    Jen Garcia - I know you hear this a lot Janna but you’ve definite been a huge inspiration to me personally. Decorating has always been my passion and I am moved by all that you’ve done with this and your career. Wow! You go girl!ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 8:21 pm

    Laura Jo - Thank you for this post! I needed to read it today.ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 10:08 pm

    Katie Wells - Thank you so much for this!!! Since I was little I’ve dreamed of decorating. As a young teenager I would spend my spare time making design boards, re-organizing my room, and re-doing anything my mom would let me. But, God re-directed me to Elementary Education, which I love!! But, it’s not my dream and lately God has been nudging me to “JUST DO IT!” So I’ve started a home decor blog and I’m preparing however I can. Design school online was my next step. But, I’m continuing to using to work full time so I hope that school online is conducive to someone needing to work on school primarily at night. Much thanks for the encouragement to follow my dreams and many blessings!!ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 10:19 pm

    Jade Bennett - I just really love this! I went to design school when I was just 19 years old and not as focused as I am now. I was young and I had a teacher tell me that I was to “silly and un focused” to ever make a big name for my self. I took jobs working at design stores and then got married and had babies and have found joy in just doing my house, so I figured that was enough. Lately however I felt this call inside my self and from my father in heaven that I have more to offer. That I have valuable dreams that I can accomplish to make my life, my families and hopefully others better. This was the inspiration I have needed to keep me going on this path. I truly feel like Heavenly Father put you in my sight today. I have looked up to you and appreciated you reposting some of my pictures so much. It helped me feel like I am good enough if someone as talented as you took time to notice my work!!! Honestly thank you for writing this!ReplyCancel

  • March 12, 2016 - 10:27 pm

    Christine Knott - Janna,

    Everything you said in this post is EXACTLY how I feel. Always feeling like I have talent and an “eye” for design, but not having the confidence to just go out there and “fake it till I make it”. I’ve been in design school part-time since 2011 for the exact same reason you started; I thought I needed something formal to back me up. To make me feel like I was real and knew what I was talking about. Strange how a piece of paper has so much power, isn’t it? So, thank you for writing this and helping me to know that I’m not alone and that confidence is half the battle.ReplyCancel

  • March 13, 2016 - 12:31 am

    Lee - I love that sentence ” as long as you got me (Jesus) I’m in! ” isn’t it amazing when you are in the Center of Gods will how much easier life is?! I love that feeling, and I’m striving for it everyday.
    Thanks also for sharing on Instagram about your faith. I love it when there is positive, God fearing, God loving people to follow. I pray that thru it you will be able to touch a lot of lives, and make them curious about this whole ” God loves you so much he died for you”. ” Well done my good and faithful servant.”ReplyCancel

  • March 13, 2016 - 5:31 pm

    Ann Barry - My mother always had a great eye for design and our house was always beautiful growing up. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I went to college so I didn’t always attend class and as a result didn’t do very well, BUT I had my own apartment I loved decorating it, I loved having people over and setting a fun table too. I left college and worked for 10 years and then when my Dad passed away and I got a little money I went to Design School. I finally knew what I wanted to do! ha ha I was 29 Design School. I absolutely loved it! I made straight As and worked so hard. Of course as soon as I graduated I got married and had 3 boys. 17 years later and at 48 years old I have SUCH a desire to finally put my passion to use and I have no earthly idea how to do it. Your story came at a time (the exact hour – not kidding) that I was going through a crappy time thinking about it. Finally at 48 I am doing my first kitchen renovation. I have the eye and style. Just haven’t had the opportunity. I’m too scared to do it for someone else, but never had even done it for myself. We start on April 4th and I hope to finally get a fun background for some instagram photos. I started there because I have 1700 followers on Pinterest and I don’t try at all. I just pin things I love for myself. Any advice would be wonderful. I just don’t have the courage to get out there but KNOW in my heart I have the talent. As much as people tell me I do, it still doesn’t help.ReplyCancel

  • March 13, 2016 - 8:02 pm

    Penny Johnson - Janna, it has been so fun to watch you enjoy what you love to do…making people happy by helping them beautify their homes. Most of all…it is a joy to me to see your faith in Jesus and see you experience His day to day help and strength to persevere in your vocation. Your article here was inspiring. My favorite part was when you talked about how God opens doors and we need courage to walk through them trusting Him. Jesus bless you dear niece!ReplyCancel

  • March 14, 2016 - 2:57 am

    Debbie - Amazing! Just read this blog post ((tears)) you always say what I’m feeling! Ha look at all the people that feel the same way I did!
    Janna. You’re. Awesome! ?ReplyCancel

  • March 15, 2016 - 3:52 am

    Peggy Baker - Janna
    Thank you so much for sharing.. I love hearing your heart. You are an inspiration!
    PeggyReplyCancel

  • March 17, 2016 - 3:17 am

    Brianne Dosier - Hi Janna! Megan Ward introduced me to you and sent me this blog… so thankful I read it, and only wish I knew you in person now too! I just recently started my own business, I’ve been full-time for a month now, and it refreshes my soul to see that I’m not alone in these feelings. So thankful for your heart to share your experiences and knowledge. Plus, I’m a HUGE fan of your work. You do such a beautiful job.ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2016 - 2:09 pm

    Anna Prit - Janna, thank you very much for sharing this tips from your experience. I know you from IG and last few days I have wondered how and where better to ask you about your experience how to start own business and here we are!:) All my life I know that should do my own business in design and decorating but always saying that is not right time yet, I am still collecting information to be confident in what I want to do..(I am young:))) but thought about own way to work with clients cannot give me to sleep) It is very stressful to start and it scares me:) You are helping, I see you and I believe that everything is possible. It was important to hear your opinion on this kind of situation. Thanks a lot and best of luck and success! You are amazing and inspiring <3ReplyCancel

  • April 7, 2016 - 6:44 pm

    Kara - YOU inspire me, Janna! Thank you for being so real! Love all of your work. Keep doin’ you, because you ROCK!ReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2016 - 5:09 pm

    Kim Deiter James - HI Janna!

    thank you so much for this post. I did look at the Heritage website….the online certification program is very tempting. I live in PA, so, it would be too far of a commute. 🙂 Any other words of advice or wisdom?

    Thanks so much.
    Kim xoReplyCancel

  • May 9, 2016 - 5:54 am

    Monica - Did your school prepare you for the NCIDQ?

    Love your blog and IG posts ? I’m thinking about ID school.

    Thank you!ReplyCancel

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