My Last Decade: What I Did Before I Was a Professional Organizer

It’s hard to believe we have entered a new year, but even more difficult to believe we’ve begun a new decade! So much can happen in one decade. As we rang in the new year, I was reminiscing about the experiences I had enjoyed over the last 10 years. I thought it would be fun to share what I did prior to being a professional organizer (and now YouTuber!)

First day of 7th grade, 3rd grade, and kindergarten

Ten and a half years ago, in July of 2009 we moved from the Northeast side of Austin to the Northwest side. We moved primarily to live in a better school district for our children. Our oldest child, our daughter, was entering 7th grade that fall. Our two boys were about to enter third grade and kindergarten. We moved into a home that was a bit of a fixer upper.

That year was filled with soccer, basketball, band, and piano lessons. My daughter was involved in a non profit Christian club, Wyldlife (middle school version of Young Life) and I became involved in that as a parent helper. In addition to that, I volunteered in both my boys’ classrooms, brought them each lunch once a week, and began the long process of remodeling our home.

When we first moved into this neighborhood, I looked to see if there was a Mom’s In Prayer group. I found one for my kids’ schools, and joined right away. MIP is an international organization for moms of school aged kids to gather together to pray for their kids, schools, teachers, and administrators. I participated in this group for the last 10 years, and for the last 2 years I was the leader for the high school group.

I continued to help with Wyldlife when my daughter was in 8th grade, and ended up taking over as the lead parent role for Wyldlife. Once a week I coordinated dinners for the leaders, snacks for the kids for club, communicated with the parents to keep them informed about club and special events. Our parent team also planned our annual fundraiser every fall. The leaders were college students from the University of Texas in Austin, so I mentored a couple of college age girls each semester. It was fun to get to know them, make them care packages, meet them for lunch or coffee, text them, and pray for them! I was involved with this organization as the parent leader until the spring of 2019. It was bittersweet to leave that role. I developed so many amazing relationships through that role. I will be forever grateful for that experience.

In 2010, I trained for my third half marathon, we went on our first family ski vacation, and I continued to be chauffeur for after school sports for my two boys. That fall, I unfortunately began down a long journey of health issues and trying to figure out why I had some severe digestive issues and anxiety. Thankfully, I eventually landed in a holistic doctor’s office where I learned all about gluten intolerance. Within weeks of changing my diet, I was feeling so much better and eventually was able to go off my acid reflux medication.

In 2011 I undertook the big project of painting our kitchen cabinets. I loved how it turned out, and ended up painting our game room and bathroom cabinets as well. It was a huge project, but well worth the effort!

BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE
AFTER

My boys had been playing soccer and basketball since they were in kindergarten, but both of them decided to try flag football in 2011.

In 2012, my boys continued to participate in sports – in the spring my older son played flag football and my younger son soccer, then in the fall my older son decided to join the middle school cross country team. My younger son played basketball that winter. Needless to say, I was busy running kids to practices and watching the games. That year, we decided to find a smaller church where we could make more connections. We found a church which we loved and started developing lifelong relationships. The pastor was looking for someone to take over some of the administrative roles that he had been doing, and I stepped into that role and worked there for a year and a half. 2013 and 2014 brought more sports, homework, and friends revolving through our house. I continued my role as admin for our church, and as I mentioned was still the parent leader for Wyldlife. My older son started the orthodontic journey in 2014, and my daughter decided she wanted to take ballet lessons. We decided it would be fun to do together, so at age 40 I picked up ballet! In the midst of all of this, I was still working on updating our home.

2015 was a momentous year for us. All three of our children graduated from their respective schools – our daughter from high school, our older son from middle school, and our youngest from elementary school. It was definitely a year of big changes. In 2016, with my oldest in college and my boys beginning to be more independent, I was searching for something I could do with my time other than the Wyldlife role. I became a BeachBody coach for a very short time – leading online fitness challenge groups. I quickly learned that I was not thriving in this role.

There was a home decor and furniture boutique that I loved to frequent and became friends with the owner. I told her to let me know if she ever needed help. In the fall of 2016, she contacted me to take me up on my offer and I started working for Vintage Fresh, managing the store while the owner was not there. It was there that I learned my love for organizing as I organized the inventory in the stockroom. I left this role in the winter of 2018 to begin research on starting my own business as a professional organizer. I worked with several friends that spring – helping them organize spaces in their homes. I worked on building a website – using Wix, as I knew this would be a good place to learn website building.

I loved organizing the stock at Vintage Fresh.

In the fall of 2018, our youngest son got very sick. He had GI issues that his pediatrician could not diagnose. He ended up missing many days of school, and in and out of the doctor’s office and finally a specialist. By the time he saw the Pediatric GI doctor, he had missed so much school that it was going to be difficult to catch up. We decided it was best for him to do online school instead because of his health. Overnight I became a “homeschool” mom, something I was totally unprepared for. Because of my son’s health and getting him settled into his new schooling routine, I had to put my organizing business on the back burner. I continued to write blog posts here and there. I also managed social media accounts for my business, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2019 that I really pursued marketing this business. I transferred my Wix site to a WordPress site and began more consistently writing blog posts and posting on social media. In November of 2019 I took the big leap of starting a YouTube channel in conjunction with my business.

The last decade has been a wild ride for sure! I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to stay at home with our children, volunteer at their school and in other organizations, and pursue my hobbies – one of which has turned into a business! I’m excited to see what the next 10 years will hold for me!

How To Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

We are just a few weeks into the new year. This is usually the time people begin to drop off on their New Year’s resolutions. It can be challenging to make life-long changes overnight. People often set goals at the new year: to lose weight, to eat healthy, to get organized, to name a few. Often, people use the new year as an incentive to muster up enough willpower to make the changes they want to make. But somewhere mid January or early February, the willpower isn’t enough and slowly the goals that had been set begin to go by the wayside.

To make lasting changes, I propose that instead of setting goals or making resolutions, you should focus on your habits. When we practice small, repetitive actions day in and day out, this can more effectively lead us to our goals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against goal setting or making resolutions. That process is fun and exciting because we get to imagine and dream what life could be like. Resolutions are future oriented – making it easier for us to come up with lofty goals, because it is our future self that will have to have the follow through! One of my favorite sayings from the tv show, How I Met Your Mother, that I like to use when I’m procrastinating is “I’ll let future Joy worry about that.” And that’s exactly what we are doing – creating perhaps unattainable goals, and hoping our future selves will have follow through. This is often why year after year nothing actually changes.

I would like to share with you 6 things you can do in order to actually attain your goals.

{ONE} Put it on your to-do list. Habits happen by making something a part of your routine. Whatever you want to achieve, put it on your to-do list and then don’t make excuses and just do it! You want to exercise three times a week? Schedule it in. You want to spend more time with friends? Plan a standing weekly or monthly get together and have it on your calendar. You want to drink more water? Put timers on your phone to remind you to fill up. Want to get organized? Put it on your calendar each week to spend time purging and organizing a space in your home. Over time, these practices just become part of who you are.

{TWO} Choose the “basic solution” over the “quick fix.” Often times, along with resolutions, people buy in to “quick fix” solutions. Whether it’s a special herbal tea, a protein shake, or vitamins and supplements, these things can’t replace what will truly make a lasting change. Making it worse, marketers play into this desire we have to find a quick fix. These quick fix solutions nor our will power can replace making changes in our habits. If we focus on basic solutions and make those a part of our habits, we are more likely to succeed. A basic solution to the goal to “get healthy” might be to get 7-8 hours of sleep at night, to drink 8 glasses of water a day, to exercise a certain number of times per week, instead of taking pills or drinking teas or shakes.. We all know, there are really no shortcuts. People want some magical or secret solution, but the truth is that change happens through small, repetitive actions everyday. 

{THREE} Let your habit connect to a priority in your life. If we want change, we must make these stepping stones to our goal a priority. If you value exercise, friendships, health, organization, then your habits must follow. The good thing about a priority leading your habit and not a goal leading it, is that you can change the habit if it’s not working for you. With a goal, if you “fail” once you feel like you have to start all over and this can be daunting. Say you make it a goal to exercise three times per week. Well, in February you get sick, and it derails this goal. At this point it could be easy to just give up. Habits are easier to “start over.” If exercise is a habit, then when you miss a week of it because of illness, you start over next week! You don’t have this feeling of guilt when you “failed.” Goals are great platforms to make changes in your life, but priorities ultimately dictate our behavior.

{FOUR} Reward yourself. It’s important to have small rewards along the way. This reinforces the behavior. Whether it’s external rewards – like having a soda or beer on Friday night after drinking your 8 glasses of water each day that week, or internal rewards – acknowledging how good you feel after a workout to remind yourself that it’s worth it!

{FIVE} Create an environment or systems to help you succeed. Often times we fail because we don’t have the needed systems in place to foster success. In the example of wanting to drink more water – buy a new water bottle, or have a water bottle out and ready to fill up in the morning, or set timers throughout the day to remind you. Visual cues will remind you to do what you set out to do.

{SIX} Don’t expect perfection. As I mentioned previously, it can be hard to keep chugging along after failure. If you miss a day of exercise, or eat a cheeseburger instead of a salad one day, THAT’S OKAY… start over the next day. It’s difficult to perfectly stick to good habits. Illness, travel, and special celebrations can get in the way of keeping our routines. It’s important to just keep moving forward with your habit.

I hope this encourages you that you CAN succeed in your resolutions this year. Focus on habits instead of goals. Habits are DAILY DECISIONS that can help you achieve your goals!

My No Spend Year 2019

Wow. I can’t believe it’s the beginning of 2020, and I completed my no spend year! It was definitely an insightful year, and I have plans for different shopping habits moving forward. I have learned so much, and I want to implement changes based on what I’ve learned.

One of the most insightful things, and something that kept coming up in each month’s reflections, was how much more time I had. I didn’t realize how much time I spent shopping. At first it was difficult to figure out what to do with that extra time, and I basically replaced shopping with other indulgent things –  watching more Netflix and YouTube, and eating more treats than usual for me. Once I figured that out, I was able to shift that time/energy into more productive things. I worked on some house projects, and later in the year focused on marketing my organizing business through transitioning my website to WordPress, and consistently writing blog posts. In addition to this, I started more consistently posting on my business social media accounts. In the beginning of November I even started a YouTube channel in conjunction with my business, sharing organizing tips and tricks. These avenues of expressing my creativity has been so fulfilling!

This year did not come without bumps and failures. I noticed I struggled when I would bend the rules a bit that I had set in place. If anyone is interested in doing some sort of spending fast, I would suggest being very explicit and detailed with your rules. One rule I had was that I could purchase things for special occasions, unless I had something that would work. While I did have some “wins” choosing to use what I had instead of purchasing something new, I learned that when I did choose to buy things for special occasions it was a slippery slope. The thing I struggled with the most was using the Poshmark app. I was able to sell many pieces of clothing that I wanted purge from my closet, however while in the app managing my items, I would see things that I liked. If you’re not familiar with PM, it’s similar to social media where you can “like” items. When you like an item, often times the seller will send you a discounted deal to entice you to buy their items. This is a technique that I myself use to sell items. I did mostly use the money from my own sales to buy the items that were a deal too good to pass up, however, again it was a slippery slope and I started justifying that I was only off by a little and would “make up for it” with future sales.

An outfit I purchased with my Poshamark credits.

In the beginning of the year, I struggled with that feeling of being drawn to things or really wanting them, but that feeling began to taper off with time. When I would fall into one of those time periods of the slippery slope, that feeling would come back again. One thing I noticed right away is how influenced I was by “influencers.” I would want something I saw someone else had, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t purchase those items because it would have been an impulse purchase and not something that I was being intentional and thoughtful about. I want to stay aware that this is why they are called “influencers” and to not be pulled into that sort of marketing. In general, I want to notice when I want to impulse buy things. I also became a little disenchanted with YouTube hauls. I’m not opposed to influencer marketing, but I want my purchases to be well thought through and not an impulse buy. If I see something an influencer is sharing, I will make a thoughtful, educated decision about if I need the product.

There were a few other things I learned through this journey. Stepping away from the consumerist mindset that I had been entrenched in, I could see more clearly. It’s hard to explain, but when I would be out shopping and saw someone dumping things in their cart, I was almost saddened – like I wanted to “enlighten” them. I’ve also learned about the effects consumerism has on our environment, particularly the fast fashion industry. In addition to this, not bringing new pieces of clothing in my wardrobe over the past year – other than select pieces which I purchased for our trip to Hawaii and the pieces I purchased using my Poshmark credits – it was easier for me to pinpoint my style. I’m beginning to look at my closet completely differently and I foresee another purge coming! Lastly, I was confronted by this idea of decision fatigue. One day while shopping for something specific at Target, I realized how easy the decision seemed. I found it odd, because in the past a decision like this would have been difficult for me. I always felt like I was making the wrong decision. I realized that what I used to do prior to the no spend year, was browse through all my favorite sections in Target. I would find things I liked and wanted and had to make decisions about – on the spot! – if I was going to purchase those items. But this time, I didn’t have to make any of those decisions. That’s when it clicked! I suffered from decision fatigue in Target! By the time I actually got to the items on my list, I was already tired of making decisions.

I had some deeper thoughts about spending, shopping, and my habits in particular. I realized that shopping was a way for me to fill my time – one way to find purpose and meaning in my life. I still love to make our home cozy and beautiful, but I see now that I can do that in a more intentional way rather than just throwing items into a cart at Target. There is also certainly nothing wrong with putting together creative outfits, but moving forward I want to be more thoughtful about what pieces I bring into my wardrobe. As the year progressed, I realized that my attention and energy on making our home beautiful and putting together beautiful outfits was just covering up moving forward in other areas of life – my business and my blog in particular. I was focusing on an area where I felt confident, and wouldn’t fail. I was unaware of how much fear had changed the path in my life. I feared failure and I feared rejection. Now I feel confident that even if I fail, or get rejected THAT’S OKAY. Failure is not bad. Failure teaches us. We learn, and make different choices moving forward. I also came to terms with the idea that I’m not going to please everyone, and not everyone will like me. AND THAT’S OKAY

I did want to address December, and how I fared. I noticed halfway through the month I had some credit in my Poshmark app and decided to use the rest of it since it was the end of the year. Again, I spent a little more than I had available {{darn that slippery slope!}} however just this week I sold two more items! I’m clearly STILL struggling with wanting new clothes AND it’s the end of my no spend year! That is why moving forward I have a plan in place.

Items I purchased with my Poshmark credits in December.

So, what are my plans moving forward?? To sum it up, next year will be my Intentional Spending Year. I’m glad I spent this year retraining my spending habits. Here are the specifics:

No more impulse spending. I will not immediately click links from influencers or purchase items I see in a store which is not on my list until I’ve given it at least 24 hours to think about it.

I will first go to thrift stores or small businesses to purchase clothing and home decor. For clothing, I am going to be using the Poshmark app so I can find intentional pieces to add to my wardrobe. I want my decor to be more intentional and curated as well. I would like to purchase vintage as much as possible.

I will no longer buy clothing items or home decor from places like Target, Wal-mart, or Home Goods unless there is something specific that I can’t find thrifted or through small businesses.

➤When going to Target, I will not browse through clothes or home decor. I will stick to my list.

➤I will ACTUALLY stick to the “one in, one out” rule. I have tried doing this in the past, but have not succeeded. I will only purchase new clothes if I have a hanger or space for those items in my dresser or closet.

Thank you to anyone who followed me on this journey! I hope to inspire you to try a spending fast – maybe you feel intimidated doing a whole year… you could start with just one or two months first. I want to inspire you to evaluate your spending habits, and think about where you could make some changes.

Here is Part 1 of the YouTube video I made with this information!
Here is Part 2 of the YouTube video I made with this information!