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I Did It and I Know You Can Too

In June of 2008 I graduated college and while my fellow students were busy getting interviews lined up and their resumes nice and shiny in the hopes of starting the career we just spent 20+ years studying for, I decide to hop on a plane to France.

I knew it was time to “become an adult” and start making real money, but I had a big dream that I knew I had to make happen: to live and work in France.

There were quite a few problems with this scenario…

  • I didn’t speak French.
  • I didn’t have a visa to stay longer than 3 months.

Both of these things were entirely necessary to work for a French company.

But I decided to not let that stop me. I found a way and made it happen anyway.

It may have taken awhile, and I may have eaten a lot of buttered pasta along the way, but I made it happen.

A couple years later, I had another dream. To work for myself, so I could live where I want and not have to go through the same experience of looking for a job everywhere I wanted to go.

There were a few problems with this scenario as well…

  • I didn’t have any skills I could sell as a freelancer.
  • I didn’t know anything about online marketing or selling myself.
  • I didn’t know how to run a business.

Again, I decided to not let that stop me. I made it happen anyway.

Last year (my first full year in business) I decided to make $97k.

There were a few problems with this scenario…

  • I was a service-based business, trading hours for time.
  • There are only so many hours in the day.
  • Unless I raised my prices higher than even my design “idols”, there was no way I’d hit my goal.

I decided to not let that stop me. I made it happen anyway.

I share this with you because we’re similar you and I. You may not want to live in France but I know you want something.

I just want to remind you that…

  • You can achieve what you want if you set your mind to it.
  • What you see others doing, you can do too.
  • You just need to decide to not let anything (or anybody) stop you
  • and then hustle.

It’ll be hard. You may have people in your life that give you resistance. You’ll have moments of serious self-doubt.

But keep truckin’. Because experiencing what you want to experience is what life’s all about.

What is your next big dream? Ready to commit to making it happen? Tell me so in the comments.


Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 60 comments… add one }
  • Thank you for sharing this, Leah. So inspiring (as always) and another reminder that we really are limitless if we believe in ourselves, and keep our eye on the prize.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Emmy, thanks for stopping by!

  • Those are some huge goals, woman! Congrats! I love that you use this space to share how you’ve done it … so inspiring to those of us just starting out. What are your goals for this year?

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, those were big ones! Moving back to the US this year so the goal is to survive the reverse culture shock, haha, and prices of NYC 🙂 I’ll share the biz related ones though soon!

  • Thanks so much for this! It’s very inspiring. I really wish I could do this, but unfortunately, sometimes life throws very large obstacles your way.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I’m certain no matter what obstacles, you can make it happen if it’s important enough for you!

  • Perfect timing Leah! 2015 is a year of big goals for me, including kicking off my very own ‘buttered noodle’ phase, so a reminder that achieving our goals – however audacious – is possible if we put the work in is great inspiration. Merci!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yay to 2015 and buttered noodles! It’s funny how different cultures have different cheap food cliches, I remember it being Top Ramen in the US in college. In France its pasta with butter and a frozen burger patty on the side, so weird! Exciting to see everything you do this year!

  • Thanks for sharing your story. I tell people all the time, that you can pretty much do anything…all you have to do is do it! You’re such an inspiration! 🙂

  • Love this Leah, nothing is impossible if we set our minds to it. I really want to exceed my own expectations this year and look forward to how it unfolds. I’m slowly working through your course and lovely every moment of it. I’ve decided that I am going to put every little thing into place and really make a difference to my business this year. Thanks for being you and for the amazing content you continuously put out there.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh I’m so glad you’re loving it! Starting out by getting streamlined will prepare you so well and open up the space to grow fast in your business. Can’t wait to be a part of your journey!

  • Bravo and congrats! Often our biggest challenge is overcoming the limiting beliefs (our own and those of others). But when we hustle and do it anyway, the way becomes clear and the outcomes can exceed even our wildest dreams. Here’s to dreaming big!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Those pesky limiting beliefs, killers of dreams! I so agree with your comment, thanks for sharing Iris!

  • Beautiful! So nice to hear your story Leah. I love that you are comfortable enough to be open and honest to share.

    I didn’t realize how much self-aware and stronger I needed to be to run a company. There a large number of challenges, loses, and wins.

    Having faith and staying positive is what gets you through those tough days. xx

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Exactly Siedah- I wanted to give a quick burst of motivation here, so I don’t talk about all the ups and downs….but they sure are present!

  • I really admire that you have succeeded in France and have overcome the difficulties of the french administration 😉 You must have been brave ! Ok I stop doing my french complaining poor thing.
    I which I could overcome my own fears and succeed in that business as well. I’m passionate about it so let’s hope. I’ve decided to believe in 2015!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Haha, it was a nightmare that’s for sure! Oh the Frenchies and their paperwork…

      You can totally overcome those fears with passion, so glad you’ve committed to it for 2015!

  • That’s amazing – quite inspiring actually! I’d love to know what you did because 2015 is when I’ll be making shit happen.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I had a full 2014 review post in mind but didn’t make it happen in time. But of course I’ll be continuously sharing through posts here! So glad to see you’re making shit happen!

  • I simply LOVE your attitude, Leah. Your enthusiasm and passion and conviction are apparent in everything you do, and you make it all look so easy!

    You’re a constant inspiration, chica.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh Emily I’m so glad. Thank you for telling me so. It’s not easy for me to put my thoughts in words (yes, I know I run a blog, haha) , but I’m glad it seems so! Thank you for the kind words.

  • Great post! It’s so inspiring!

    I love reading about how you’ve got to this level.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Glad you liked it Alejandra! So excited I’ve hired you to help me reach some big goals this year!

  • Love this Leah, thanks for sharing! Can’t wait to see what you are up to this year 😉

  • This was an awesome post, Leah. Since I started following FTF, I’ve been so impressed with all that you manage to provide to the community. To read this and realize that you really built this all on your own from ground zero is even *more* impressive. Kudos, and congrats on your hard-earned success. And thanks for paving the path to make it easier for us freelancers to do the same!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Thank you Tiffany, paving the path is exactly what I hope to do! I appreciate your kind words.

  • Talk about some kick-in-the-pants motivation in my email this morning! Thanks for showing all of us that impossible is just a state of mind 🙂

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes, love giving a kick-in-the-pants! 🙂

  • Wow sounds like you had a great year, congratulations. It’s so inspiring to read posts like this and see that it is possible (which gives me hope for my income goal) – I’d love to see a bit more of a breakdown of how you made it happen.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Glad it resonated with you Kirsty, I’ll have some breakdowns coming soon!

  • Ugh.
    I admire you so much.

    I’ve seen you do this. I know it’s true. And you’ve made it look easy!

    I just need to make myself a bracelet asking: what would Leah do?

    Thanks for the inspiration,

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh gosh it hasn’t been easy at all, but worth every up and down along the way! I admire you just the same Maria, thank you for being a big part of my support to make last year happen.

  • Very cool, Leah! You’re totally fearless! Moving to France without speaking French? I’d love to read a lot more about each of your examples here. I’m super intrigued 🙂

    Let’s have a phenomenal 2015!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I knew Bonjour at least 🙂 I haven’t written about moving to France in a little more detail, but I definitely will go into more detail about the last two in future posts!

  • I cannot BELIEVE how much you’ve accomplished in such a short time. Amazing. And the community that you’ve built for fellow freelancers is truly one of the most supportive and useful that I’ve found.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh I’m so glad you love the community Nicole! That truly makes my day, thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Wow, incredible! I would loooove to see a breakdown of how you structure your time, and what income is passive or active–if you don’t mind! I am still working on the passive income stream, and love seeing how other people do things! 🙂

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Oh man, time structure I’m not so great at (but I’ll be working on that a lot this year) but I definitely will be talking a lot about the whole “passive” vs. active stuff in the coming weeks! And I agree, it’s so nice to see how others do things (love your posts for this) so I’m happy to share more.

  • I love this post. The format, the inspiration, the insight. It’s beautiful.

    My favorite line, “I decided to not let that stop me. I made it happen anyway.”

    This is so inspirational, I’m going to share it as more people need to hear this message.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Thank you Kathy, so glad you enjoyed it and appreciate you so much for sharing!

  • Ani

    How brave to move to a country without speaking the language! Good for you! I was just thinking, earlier today actually, that I want to pack in a few years into 2015 and make things happen fast. Why not? I was very happy to read this post today. Thank you for the encouragement!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Exactly- why not?! Do it! And share with me your plans 🙂

  • I can’t imagine the amount of guts, bravery, and moments of being scared to death it took to actually go for one of these goals–let alone all of them. I’m so glad you did, though, because there are those of us who need you as inspiration!

    My next big dream is to grow my small (but dreamy) side company to my official, full time business.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Well, this didn’t all happen in a year, so that helps! One big thing at a time…because you’re right it was scary and overwhelming at times (and continues to be). Yay for dreaming to make the leap, I’m here to help of course and I’m so glad you’re here!

  • Thank you for writing this, Leah! I (and I’m sure so many others!) REALLY needed to hear this today. 🙂 Congratulations on all your successes and here’s to continuing to make “it” happen!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Cheers Rebecca! Nothing better than good timing for a little inspiration, happy I could give that to you today.

  • I love this post! I’ve been there, done that.

    My son and I moved from California to NYC and people (including myself) thought I was crazy. I went to grad school while homeschooling my son and working. People (including myself) thought I was crazy. I work a non-traditional job and freelance. People think I am crazy. All this crazy is building me a life I *LOVE*.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Wow Malea! Incredibly inspiring! I love crazy especially when it means we get to live a life we love 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Wonderful inspiration 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Hi Leah!
    Totally loved this post. Recently, I heard Les Brown say, “Sometimes you have to jump, and grow your wings on the way down.” It looks like that is exactly what you did, and it’s exactly what I’m doing now. I’m preparing to leave my day job Oct. 1, 2015 to pursue my dream job of writing books and information products and being a women’s empowerment workshop facilitator. It seems like such a big dream sometimes, but if I don’t dream big, I”ll never allow my mind to grow wings, right? 🙂 Keep up the good work! You are very inspiring and thank you for such a great AM post. I’m about to tweet it now lol.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes! Need to jump to get those wings! It’s too easy to stand by and not grow if we don’t take the jump that forces us to. So excited for you and October 1st! Love a quit date, can’t wait to celebrate with you 🙂

  • Maisie

    Once again, you continue to inspire! The freelancing path certainly is a wild ride. Most of us are figuring it out as we go… having someone like you to shine a perspective on possibilities has been monumental.

    2015 is going to be brilliant. I have two projects and a book in the works. It’s an insanely beautiful life. 🙂

    Thanks, Leah!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I’m so glad my sharing is helpful! Love that conviction I hear when you say 2015 is going to be brilliant. I have to agree. And so excited about your new projects! Big hugs

  • Leah I loved this post. I have so much I want to make happen this year, and I AM going to do it. Some of my goals are financial ( in a service based food business) others are personal, and some have to do with my travel goals. Thank you for reminding us of what it takes to be successful at anything!

  • Wow. This is amazing. I feel like I should just print out this entire post and hang it on my wall. You are such and inspiration to me (and obviously so many other people, judging by the comments). I love that you decided on what you wanted and then went for it and made it happen. And I love even more that you’re willing to share your experiences with those of us still trying to make it there so we can all succeed together. You’re awesome!

  • Sammy

    Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for always sharing.
    I am aiming big for 2015 as well. Bigger and better for 2015! 🙂

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