Inspired Design in 2013: I’m on a Mission

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Well, friends, I am on a mission to be inspired this year. Yes, 2013 is my Year of Inspiration! And that doesn’t exclude my design work. In fact, design just may be the biggest area in which I have been lacking inspiration.

Call it burnout. Call it the glorification of busy. Call it life getting in the way. Call it whatever you want, but I want to create rooms again that inspire me, just like the gorgeous rooms in this blog post!

Isn’t it crazy the way that the thing that “You Do” can be the thing that most suffers when “Life Happens”?

I find that between raising a family and running a business, Design is often low on the totem pole of priorities for me. And in talking to the hundreds or thousands of people that I encounter each day/week/month through my blog, camps, and consulting, I know I am not alone in this predicament.

In fact, I think it is all too common. When design is just your hobby and your passion, for some reason you will find time for it.  All the lawyers and engineers, for example, who adore design and are dying to be working in design find lots of time to make design “happen”. Maybe it is so that they can find some inspiration to get through their daily drudgery of a job they don’t love, a work life they are not passionate about.

But the minute they switch to a career in design, they suddenly have very little time for designing. It is all about managing people and payroll, overhead and cash flow, purchase orders and vendors. So what the heck happened to the one thing that brought us to this profession to begin with?!

What happened to dreaming of textiles and wallcovering? What happened to bringing form and function to an otherwise uninspired space? What happened to making reality of beautiful interiors for you and for clients instead of just admiring them in your favorite shelter magazines? Not to mention…what ever happened to having time to even read shelter magazines, dammit?!

Well, Life happened. But too often it’s not “Inspired Living.” It’s just life…more like “Unconscious Living.” Doing what we think MUST be done instead of designing a life that we LOVE.

Well all that changes for me TODAY! Starting today I am back in charge of design inspiration at my office. And I am in back in charge of inspiration in my Life. Maybe I’ll even change my title to CIO…Chief Inspiration Officer!

I am back in charge of my priorities,  and I am determined…very little is making the cut into my 24-hour days but necessities and design. After sleep and exercise, healthy eating and family time, there is little time left for Inspired Design and I’m going to take every moment of it that I can get.

So here is the plan, if it’s not making me happy or making me healthy, someone else can do it. Period. “Outsourcing” is going to become my new middle name starting today. I used to want to build a big business, but with that “Big Business” comes big responsibilities and big cash requirements.

Now I want to see just how “small” my business can be. Not in terms of cash and revenues, but in terms of owning resources and responsibilities. I want to collaborate and build alliances to get things done, not acquire people and things to manage and control. My life philosophy for 2013 of “collecting moments not things” can be a business philosophy too, right? Absolutely!

I think in a world of consumption and consumerism, things have gotten skewed in so many ways and that has equaled not living our passions. Not spending the majority of every day in our “Sweet Spot.” So, as I said in my resolutions post–it’s time to cut through the clutter, cut through the noise, and get to the heart of what matters. And to me, Inspired Design Matters. Inspired Living Matters. And that starts today, January 14, 2013. Mark it in  your calendar!

What will you do TODAY to make your life and business Inspired? It isn’t easy. The changes are very difficult, actually. But I’d take difficult decisions over a lifetime of regret any day. Will you?

Wishing you the Courage to become your own Chief Inspiration Officer Today!


p.s. These amazing and inspirational rooms above are all from my “Fabulous Rooms” Pinterest Board. To get inspired, check it out. Warning…Just looking at these rooms may cause you to change your life and work priorities in a BIG way, so enter my Pinterest boards at your own risk.

p.p.s. Need help staying inspired and becoming your own CIO, why not let us help you? Check out my E-coaching and Mastermind Consulting Services. 2013 is going to be BIG for me and all my coaching services. And stay tuned for 2 big and INSPIRING Camp Tobi Fairley Announcements this week! I can hardly wait.

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11 Responses to Inspired Design in 2013: I’m on a Mission

  1. Karen Bridges says:

    Good for you Tobi!!!!!! You will be the best CIO that I know! I love reading your blog every day….keep up the great work.

  2. LOVE the CIO title!! Thank goodness you’ve got the kind of inspired living bug that is contagious because I’ve caught it too! Must have been all the hugs at MBA Camp!! xoxo

  3. Bradley Clifford says:


    Thank you for sharing this. It really hits home for me. “family and running a business, Design is often low on the totem pole of priorities for me.” (Gym too) :))

    Glad to see you looking beautiful as ever!

    Thank you Tobi!


  4. Cristin says:

    I’m a SAHM – from the city, living in the country – with a business degree, no design training whatsoever. I love design, but from afar. Somehow I developed a little design-crush on you a few years ago and yours is the only designer name I recognize in public forums. Anyway, your designs inspire me. So, for that, thank you. 🙂 I hope you continue to find your inspiration! 🙂 (Sorry – I’m a dork.)

  5. maison21 says:

    great post, tobi- i feel you!

  6. Carla Aston says:

    Well, I feel like I see the real Tobi here. I experience these same things every day and when I see people, designers, in this business who seem like all they do is “design” and everything is all lovely, it really makes me curious.

    Anyone in business knows it takes so much more than that. The “design” part, unfortunately, is minimal. I do all the 90% other – business, marketing, meetings, psychology, etc., just so I can do the 10% real design. That’s the fact. And that’s why we’re all really in it, I think. That glorious 10%. That little tiny bit that’s sooooo worth it.

    I recently had someone tell me that if I didn’t want to hold hands and babysit a client, I shouldn’t be a designer. I said….”but if I wanted to do that I’d have been a caregiver!”

    It’s about design….isn’t it??? Still, in some way?

  7. Tobi: So so true! About 5 years ago my husband and I sat down and decided that we could either GROW big and have many other stresses that would put a strain on our family and our relationship or we could stay small and keep our family(young girls at the time) top priority. There have been so many times where I’ve looked at other designers and thought “man, I’ve missed out because I’ve had to pass opportunities up” but, reading your blog confirms to me that I’ve kept those priorities in line and now I have no regrets. There are seasons for things in our lives and I know that when my kids are gone I can do this business FULLY. Right now, I’m doing the best I can with the time I have and like you said, “if it doesn’t make me happy or bring in money” I’m going to continue to pass it up. You truly are awesome! Thanks for sharing your heart with us! P.S. Your family is precious and they deserve YOU as much as possible! What you are doing right now…encouraging, coaching, teaching is what you were BORN to do. You are an incredible Designer too and that is the BONUS! Blessings friend!

  8. Leigh B. says:

    I KNOW you’re not alone in your lack of inspiration. Hang in there! I love what my dad told me when I started a business, “Keep it small and keep it all.” AMEN! I started a stationery and invitation business with a friend in 1996 that is now a very well respected shop. When we started we met by appointment and then moved to office hours in rented office space. My partner who is still an owner in the business says that she brings home now exactly what we brought home in the “small” days.

  9. Franki Parde says:

    Well..I see these two gardners in their little carts racing along just laughing and bouncing along and then I drive by a Mercedes pulled over to the side and see this guy yelling and screaming and banging his steering wheel…whom is having more fun…it’s all about choices. franki

  10. Ann Prince says:

    Thanks, Tobi…I needed this!

  11. Michelle says:

    Well said, Tobi. It’s always good to hear your perspective and it sounds like you are on to something good!