Wednesday, May 8, 2013

How I Finally Found Happiness

A sponsored hip + urban girl post.

I think I’ve discovered the secret to happiness.

Over the past three years I have shifted my focus and spending on to experiences instead of lots of ‘things’. Sure, I still love ‘things’ and I buy them all the time, but I don’t wrack my brain thinking about buying a new TV for my den or a patio set for my backyard. Instead, I’ve been prioritizing travel, food, concerts, genuine experiences, spending time outdoors, being active, learning new things and making lots of time for friends and family. I have become SO much happier because of this change and I feel like a real-life ‘Potentialist’.
My old house on the Danforth
So what did I do? I quit my job as a special events and wedding DJ, sold my house and most of my furniture, started renting a small condo and used the extra time and money to realize my potential and my dreams. My goal was to travel and I had put it off for way too long. Travel became part of my new job and I strived to have a mobile career.

I launched this blog with Wendy in June 2010 and started writing and freelancing for a living as well. YES, this was hard and yes, I was making less money. But I was doing what I loved for a living and I was determined to make it work. I am also a big believer that if you think big and put 150% into everything you do, people will notice and that can lead to big things.

Blogging & writing on the road
Which is what happened to me. I ran my blog like a professional business right from the start. Sure, “It’s just a blog,” people say – but it didn’t matter to me, I took blogging seriously and shared my love for food, travel, life and style on a daily basis with anyone who would listen. The growth and success of this blog has led to even better freelance opportunities, ambassadorships and sponsorships for The Hip + Urban Girl. I am grateful to have such fantastic readers and good people around me who provide such valuable support.

A good question to ask yourself is, “Am I realizing my potential?” Maybe you can’t quit your job and sell your house like I did (it was drastic, I know) but it’s good to have an exit strategy for anything in your life that isn’t working. I planned on quitting my job a year before I actually did it and set an end date for myself to keep things on track. 

Create your goals - I keep a mental top five list of places I want to visit and travel to. This way, I can go for what I really want and have a clear idea in mind without getting sidetracked by another ‘cheap vacation’ that I only want to sort-of go on.

What inspires us? We made a Pinterest board of things that inspire us  in our everyday lives and share with you what we are passionate about.

So what is your dream? Would you sail away into the Caribbean? Have lunch in the hills of Tuscany? Eat sushi in Tokyo?

Give yourself some self-reflection time
American Express just launched a Realize Your Potential with Pinterest contest and wants to help you realize your potential and give you a boost in the form of $5,000 American Express Gift Card.

Here’s how you can enter:

1) Create a board on Pinterest called “Amex Potentialist Canada” with only your own original photos & tag each pin with #PotentialistCanada.

2) Pin up to 25 of your original images that showcase your dream and how you want to realize your potential.

3) Re-pin the ‘How to Enter’ image from American Express Canada’s Pinterest page.

4) Submit your entry. Once your Pinterest board is complete and you’ve finished all the steps above, enter your board into the competition at & complete the entry form on the ‘Realize Your Potential with Pinterest’ contest tab

Contest ends May 26, 2013. We will be one of three Canadian blogs judging the ten finalists and will ultimately help pick three winners who will each receive the $5000 prize. So start pinning away and good luck!


  1. Great post and great idea from Amex. I can completely relate as although not as severe as what you've done, I too left a perfectly cushy job to chase happiness. It's tough, and sometimes discouraging, but hopefully I'm on the right track!

  2. check out documentary about this same topic

  3. that's amazing! takes alot of guts to do what you did.

  4. Love this post and inspiring contest!

  5. this is amazing!!! I once tried to walk away and find my potential, but it was the bad time to do it. I am inspired now!

  6. I absolutely love this. Blogging is my escape and a way of connecting with the things that really matter to me. Glad to read how this has turned into something much more for you.

  7. Thanks for all your lovely comments so far. It was really hard for me to find 'my calling' and I've come up with some really terrible ideas too. But don't forget to THINK BIG and look at the things you're good at or your friends are constantly calling you for advice for. Good luck!

  8. I'm Fine, Thanks! is an amazing documentary! I actually backed them up on Kickstarter and recommend everyone watch it. I got my inspiration from that film as well, which resulted in vacationing and working aboard in California and Hong Kong.

  9. Hi Lisa, I had a question about pinning user images, are those images that are mine personally or images I find on Pinterest? Please message me on Twitter when you have the chance. @plumerea

    1. Please make sure you are only pinning your own photos. No re-pins or they will be disqualified - thanks!

  10. Hi Lisa,

    I've been reading this blog for a while and I love the content. This post was great and I think a lot of 20-somethings or those fresh from graduation would find it interesting. You mentioned that it took you a long time to find your ideal career. I'm just curious, how did you ultimately find your calling and know it was the right one? Also, what gave you such courage to make drastic changes in your life?

  11. Hey Jann,

    Thanks for reading!

    Here are a few ideas for finding your calling:

    1) Book a brunch date with friends - ask your closest friends and family what types of career they could see you doing. Maybe you can't see it for yourself, but the people who know you best can see it for you.

    2) Take a continuing ed class - I went to George Brown and took evening classes in freelance magazine writing, which gave me an idea of what the work and life was like.

    3) Intern - Try interning at a job that you think you would want and see if it might be a fit.

    How did I find the courage to do all this? I knew I could always go back to my old job if things didn't work out. I was also young, so this was the time to take a risk instead of getting stuck in a rut. I also banked every single penny in the last 4 months before I quit, so I could have an emergency fund. I also recommend getting a part-time job in a field you like and not quitting the workforce completely.

    Good luck!


  12. Thanks for the tips Lisa. I'm really glad your story was one of success. It's an inspiration to all of your readers. Keep up the great work :)

  13. The contest winners have been picked! If you are one of the lucky three, Amex will contact you directly. Unfortunately under their rules and regulations, we are unable to announce the names.