So Kelly … what exactly is it that you do?


Given I have spent the last oh, eight months or so making some fairly comprehensive changes to my life, I am finding myself faced with this question on a fairly regular basis:

So, what exactly are you doing with your days right now?

And it’s not people I have just met that are asking this question, it is good friends. So in the interests of keeping y’all in the loop, here more than you need to know about what I am up to these days!

Firstly, to know how I’ve gotten to here, it’s worth re-capping where I have been …

Where I have been

After studying Human Movement (Sport Science) at the University of WA, I graduated in 1998 with a BSc. I worked for 18 months as the Sport and Recreation Officer at UWA Sports before realising that while I loved sport and health & fitness, these were not industries I wanted to work in. I’d always had a love of design and was already self-taught in many key programs so, encouraged by a graphic designer friend, I decided to re-train in Graphic Design and Multimedia.

Within one month of finishing my new studies, I secured a graphic design position with a marketing agency. I worked with this company for nearly six years before resigning in 2006 to start my own business, Swish Design.

Over the next five years Swish Design grew steadily from being just me to where it is now, a vibrant team of five. In August 2011 I succumbed to the dual stresses of running a business while filling a role that had become a little soul-destroying for me: all client relations and no creative. At this point my totally awesome husband assumed the role of General Manager and sent me home to rest and recuperate.

That was eight months ago, during which time I have constantly battled stress and that part of me that is hard-wired for ‘doing too much’. It’s been quite a process but amazingly where I am now is where I have been striving to be my whole life. Despite being quite a driven person, all I have ever wanted from life is this:

  • Financial security – I have never wanted to be ‘rich’, I just want to have money in the bank so if the washing machine breaks down and needs to be replaced, it’s not going to rock my whole world.
  • Quality family time – This is not just the ability to spend time with Ant and Jaden (and also the wider family), but also to be ‘present’ when I am with them rather than constantly distracted and vague.
  • Time to do stuff I love – things like reading, writing, running, seeing my friends (again, without being vague and distracted).
  • Lack of stress – is it possible for a highly driven person to live a life where stress levels are kept under control? Who knows – I guess that is the experiment I am conducting right now!

See those four things? Amazingly I am ticking them all right now. Before you get too jealous and start hating me, believe me when I tell you it has taken ten years of ridiculousness to get here. I still find it hard to believe that everything I have ever wanted from life, I have got it right now as it’s always seemed like such an impossible dream.

With that in mind …

Here’s what I am doing these days

I am honouring the introvert in me – the part of me that likes people, but can’t spend my whole day around them as I find it draining! I am working pretty much full time hours, but from the comfort of my lovely, peaceful study at home:

  • I am doing business development for Swish Design
  • I am slowly building a name for The Smile Collective and trying to get my prints stocked in shops around Australia
  • I am doing the odd design job here and there – just enough to satisfy that particular creative side of mine
  • I am doing a little bit of editing work
  • And I am doing a fair bit of writing – for my blog, the Swish Design blog, the I love pretty things blog, the Women in Focus site and Swish Design clients.

What I want to be doing

Well … all of the above of course! I’d also like to do a bit more freelance writing for magazines (online and offline) and naturally, being a writer, I think there’s a book in me as well :)

But …

I am trying to be smart about it all. Trying not to revert to type and overextend myself. Will I succeed? We shall see shall we?!


What about you?

Are you right where you want to be at this stage of your life? Or are you working towards a particular life goal, one you feel is within reach? Or somewhere else entirely? I’d love to hear about where you are at in the comments.


* Image from here.

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  1. says


    What a great post! I loved it! For me I am still striving, but given that I am only 26 I think thats ok. And my life goals all changed 3 years ago when I had a baby (very unplanned) – they have all changed a again recently now that my business is doing well and I can believe that life similar to your four goals is more achievable than I ever imagined! The only thing I would add to that list is; make a positive impact to the world and the people around me!
    Which I am sure you are doing anyway – I just found a graphic designer (after trying many) that gets me and it has changed my life!

    • says

      Thank you so much Elle – I am so excited about what you are doing with YOUR business right now – the handmade/wahm business world totally needs you and your work!

      And YES about the graphic designer. I know I am biased, but I always tell people that when they find themselves a graphic designer that is awesome and ‘gets’ them … never ever let them go!!

    • says

      Thank you Nikki! I think the key is to feel like you are making progress on your path! For SO many years I felt like I was a hamster on a wheel, lots of action but no forward motion!!

  2. says

    I’m so glad it’s working out for you. It is a tricky balancing act: all of your life goals resonated with me, and especially the one about quality family time right now.

    I have a new (brand spanking new) business which takes up a lot of time: the statement you’ve posed right at the beginning of the post is an excellent one for me and I can see myself revisiting it many times over in the weeks and months ahead.

    • says

      Ah those early days of a brand spanking new business! What a ride!!

      All the best with it Tracey! If ever you need a sounding board, feel free to drop me a line because if you’re experiencing it, I have probably been there!

  3. says

    Great post, K – I love the way you can look at things and just sort, stack and file – whether they are ideas, life processes or mountains of paper! So wonderful that you feel things are flowing beautifully, and it’s been an honour (and fairly life-changing for me!) to share the journey with you this past year :) x

  4. says

    Fantastic post Kelly! I started off by doing a pharmacy degree which I hated, then did a degree in Human Movements just like you did. My long term goal is to make health and fitness accessible to everyone through sharing my own adventures on my blog – and hopefully there’s a book in me there somewhere as well.

    liz :)
    PS – I think you are a gifted writer!

  5. says

    Im on the edge…looking over, trying to do lots of big and little things while still holding on to what i want and what my vision is. What I desperately want is a scholarship to give me a regular income so that I can focus on my phd, do some freelancing, start a private practice and just BE without running around like a loopy person. Oh and I want to run and enjoy it…Im making it to 5k which I am ridiculously proud of x

    • says

      It’s bloody hard isn’t it?! You know where you want to be … but the water is so muddy between here and there!! That said, I have every confidence you will navigate those muddy waters in style – class always wins the day in the end ;)

      As for the running part … stay tuned for a blog post on that very topic next week!!

  6. says

    Kelly thanks for sharing all this about you it’s inspiring as well as making me feel ok about having a few projects on the go. There is still always something more I want to do but have learnt not to stress about it all so much. I follow my passion of behaviour although now I’m thinking of doing a sideways shift in my studying and moving into neuro sciences, finishing the ebook, the website and my Kind Eyes project, well at least we will never say we didn’t try and we can never be bored xx

    • says

      While it CAN lead to overwhelm, I kinda feel we always need to have a few irons in the fire … because it gives us options. That’s what I think one of the true keys to happiness is – having options because having options indicates you are making a choice to be where you are at any given time. And even if that time is a really hard time, you own it because you chose it :)

  7. says

    I am soooooo close – I just need the income bit to happen! I know it will… I would just like to be doing a little less stressing about whether it’s all going to work out successfully. I LOVE what I do.

    I love that I can choose who I can work with (including a certain person I know), socialise and network with. I love that I am at the school gate every afternoon. I love that I can just take myself off to a cafe to work when I don’t feel like being alone. Or that I can take myself up to my beautiful studio when I do.

    I love the products I am creating and that other people love them too.

    It’s not quite the perfect balance yet.

    I do want to get back into writing more. Yes, there’s a book in me somewhere too! I NEED to spend more time doing stuff around the house. This list on the fridge is total madness. I want to have more energy to entertain again. I should also stuff around on Facebook less and read more.

    Totally agree with you though Kelly – this is is the LIFE!

    • says

      Well I think you know I can pretty much identify with EVERYTHING you mention above (especially choosing who you work with !!) I reckon you are SO close Cath. You have worked so hard over the last few years building your profile and your connections AUTHENTICALLY … that income bit HAS to be just around the corner :)

  8. Maz says

    Great post Kel! Until recently I felt guilty for not following a traditional career path, steadily earning more money as I rose up the ranks and then being financially comfortable because of it. It’s just in the last 2 weeks I’ve realised I’m actually an entrepreneur! Who’d have thunk it :-). I guess what I’m saying is we all have our unique path to tread and we have to give ourselves permission to change and adapt.

    • says

      YES Maz! Exacterly.

      I know it is so cliche to ‘follow your heart’ when it comes to your career – but … refer back to the image at the top!!!

  9. donna says

    I am doing exactly want I want to do.
    I have the most amazing husband who has and still continues cherish me through the good and the bad.
    Two lovely well accomplished daughters..
    So I think to my self how am I so lucky..
    And then I know tis not I who has gained this but it is a gift from God who loves us all beyond reason..
    For in the good times and the bad times if we just continue loving Him who Is and allow Him in the moments of our day all will be good..
    For He will guide us through it all.
    All he wants is our love and when we truly give Him that He showers us with what we need and what is best for our souls.
    God is simply Awesome!

  10. says

    Kel,I feel compelled to read all of your blogs, I could not agree more than the four things that you pointed out that are important. 8 years ago I wanted it ALL, over the last few years it could not be further from the truth, I mean who are we kidding? I showed my wife Lisa and she said why do we complicate things, life is simple and provides great rewards if we do what we want for US and our four girls and not for everyone else. If people only like you for your car, home or possessions than they are not worth knowing. Thank you, this brought me to tears…….. x

  11. says

    Hi Kelly –

    I am interested in this concept that you wrote:
    “Financial security – I have never wanted to be ‘rich’, I just want to have money in the bank so if the washing machine breaks down and needs to be replaced, it’s not going to rock my whole world”
    I would really like to hear more of your thoughts on the balance of money and stress and drive. How much is enough? Do you have to have paid off the mortgage to feel secure? To what extent should you have a budget and stick to it? What is to be considered a ‘necessary luxury’ to enjoy life (going out once a week or once a month, movies or theatre, alcohol or chocolate)? To what extent is being frugal in order to pay off the mortgage sooner or have cash for a rainy day a good thing? Or is the answer… everybody’s different?
    As you can tell, these thoughts have run through my head on a regular occasion, and still I have no conclusion – and maybe there isn’t one.
    But I do like hearing you talk (or perhaps that should be reading your writings!) on a variety of subjects, and I think that you would be particularly experienced to give a relevant answer, given your life choices thus far between stressful career and money and a life less frantic with (presumably) a little less money.
    I look forward to reading the blog post…. or perhaps you’re about to point me to one you’ve already written?!
    Cheers, Em x

    • says

      Whew Em – that is a big question! And one that I can only answer for myself – but hopefully there will be a takeaway for most people in the answer I give! I will give it some serious thought over the next week and try and answer it on Tuesday!