Solving Your Puzzle

I'm one of those people who love to work.  I figured I would climb the corporate ladder and work right up to the mandatory retirement age - longer if my employer would allow it. Entrepreneurship never crossed my mind.

When I was thirty I landed a job with what I thought was the best employer known to mankind. Fast forward five years. I'm happily married, about nine-months into a new promotion and expecting. My husband and I had it all figured out.  We would continue to build our respective careers, and day care would fill in the gaps. Perfect. Until I returned to work. . .

While I loved being back downtown and having the daily stimulation of being in the office, my perspective had changed. The career I loved twelve months earlier no longer provided the same satisfaction. After 18 months of going through the motions, my husband and I began to seriously discuss an idea that had surfaced while I was on mat leave: self-employment.

I religiously watched programs about professional organizing while I was at home with my young son. I was fascinated by it. When I discovered that one of my favourite shows was filmed in the GTA, my husband and I discussed the idea of me pursuing a career as a professional organizer. The plan was to wait until our son was in grade 1, affording me 6 hours a day to learn how to run a business. But with my son only at two and a half years, and me growing more and more despondent with life in the workplace, I knew I couldn't stick to the original timeline.

By this time I had read a book about how to become a professional organizer and learned that there was a national association.  I attended my first meeting in April 2008. I was in heaven. I resigned from my former dream job in August of 2008. I was going to be a professional organizer. In September of the same year, the global economy tanked. I also quickly discovered that professional organizing was a little- known profession in Canada. If I collected even a nominal fee for every time a new acquaintance asked if I was an event planner, I needn't have worried about building a client base.

Taking the advice of fellow organizers, I joined a networking group; but being shy and immensely intimidated by the confidence and finesse of those around me, I said little and made no headway. I continued to attend the meetings of our national association and even served on our chapter's board. I subcontracted with an organizer who was very kind and supportive.  My optimism started to build. But in July of 2009 my father passed away. The next six months were consumed by estate settlement and supporting my mother through this premature loss.

By February of 2010 I was ready to throw in the towel. Clearly I didn't have what it takes to be successful. Then an unexpected call from a well-established organizer changed my mind. An informal alliance was formed between us.  This provided the support I needed to learn to be a business owner, as well as the opportunity to subcontract alongside a woman for whom I had a great deal of respect.

But there wasn't enough work to support my family when my husband lost his job and was unemployed for almost 18 months. Back I went to my former employer, who offered me a 15-month contract. Tail between my legs; I felt like a total failure. It was fifteen months of hell. While I will always be grateful that I was welcomed back, I learned a valuable lesson: I didn't want to stay. I had found the resolve to push forward with my business.

Once I was able to leave the corporate world behind, I started working on my certification.  This was an almost-two-year commitment which provided immense opportunities for self-growth, increased self-confidence and insight into a type of disorganization I knew nothing about. When I successfully completed my peer review and earned my letters in the fall of 2013, I was on top of the world. I no longer hesitated to tell people what I do, or about this unknown thing, chronic disorganization.

When I first contemplated a career in organizing, my focus was on those people seeking that work-life balance; the people who were too busy to get themselves organized. Now I know there is a segment of the population that really struggles to get, and stay, organized.  For some it is a lifelong struggle that causes significant distress. And when the fit it right, I have the privilege to go into the home of one of these people, learn about them, their job, family, history, hobbies, goals - whatever they care to share - and support them along a journey.

At Home Puzzle, we provide a journey where you learn, and evolve, and become successful; where the negative is replaced with positive and happiness and optimism shine through.

I love what I do; I know I made the right choice.  

By Christine Janes CPO-CD®, Founder, HomePuzzle.  To solve the puzzle of your home check out Christine's website and her Facebook page.