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From Losing His Job to Living His Dream – Eoin Cullen, Guest Author

by inspire on April 14, 2010

Introduction by Sean M Kelly: The following guest post is written by Eoin Cullen. Eoin is an Irish man living in Chicago who got laid off in February 2009, then amazingly turned it around and started living his dream in January 2010! His Mother Anne Cullen lives in Ireland and has attended some Dare to Dream evenings with myself. She put me in contact with Eoin and from September to December I helped Eoin by coaching him on the principles of Dare to Dream and that dreams really can come true.  (if you’d like some online video coaching just email This is Eoin’s story.

They say “Things Happen for a Reason” right? Now if you’d told me that back in February of 2009 right when I was laid off after working for a company for 6 years, my response would have been “Take a hike buddy”.

In our current recession I was 110% sure my job was safe…after all I had been working for this company as a graphic designer for the past 6 years and my loyalty to the company had to stand for something right?

I was laid off the day before my annual ski trip and the reason for their perfect timing was so the company didn’t have to pay me for 3 vacation days!!! “I give you 6 years and you cant give me 3 days”!!! Now that was a blow to my system and I began to wonder if I wasted the last 6 years of my career! However I didn’t let it get the better of me and decided to worry about my next move after my ski trip.

The next day I was sitting at the peak of a Colorado mountain, looking out to an amazing view I said to myself “This is my life and I will bounce back from this in a better way.”

Upon my return I started to look for another job but with the recession in full swing many companies cut their marketing budget so the job market was looking pretty bleak. As the months passed with very little freelance work coming in, I started to think about going back to school to study fine art with a focus on sculpture. This is something I have wanted to do for a couple of years and fine art and sculpture is something I really love doing.

My plan was to attend school in the evenings while still working full time, but I never pursued that goal mainly because I simply didn’t believe I could do it! It was much easier for me to stay in my comfort zone working away on a daily basic than to step outside it and deal with possible rejection and the fear of failure…things I was pretty sure were going to be the outcome if I did apply myself.

My mother who always believed in my creative side and wanted me to pursue it even more gave me a book called “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers. At first I thought to myself this book is not for me, but as I kept reading it I felt this entire book was written just for me and I couldn’t put it down. The book didn’t end with me riding off into the sunset where everything is great, it gave me the tools to believe in myself and go after what I really wanted.

I started to read more and more about the only school I wanted to attend in order to get my degree. That school is The Art Institute of Chicago which is one of the best art schools in the United States if not in the world. I began by making some calls to the school to see what steps I should take next. The first step was an interview and portfolio review at the school so they could get a better understanding of me and my work. That interview did not go over well and I was told my chances of getting into the school were slim based on my sculpture portfolio. The school said my sculptures were “too classical figurative”. As much as I have the highest respect for classical figurative sculpture it is not really what I love creating. All my work at that time was work I had done in sculpture classes based on anatomy of the body. I was told by the school to stay in touch as they would like to see more of my personal work in the future (outside classes).

At this point I was pretty sure my dream of attending The Art Institute of Chicago was over and now I was back to square one. Not knowing where to go next I contacted the school again for direction and after a couple weeks back and fourth over e-mail and phone I was asked to come back in and meet with someone in person to discuss further. In those couple of weeks I had created at piece I call “The Root”. This piece was created at home and is more along the lines of my personal vision. I brought pictures with me the second time I went to the school and that interview along with my new piece seemed to go over very well. I was asked to create more work along the lines of “The Root” and apply to the school no later then November 15, 2009 and hope for the best.

The Root by Eoin Cullen

My second meeting at the school was towards the end of September so as you can imagine the month of October was pretty crazy trying to get all my ducks in a row along with creating new sculptures for my Nov. 15th application deadline. In the middle of October when I had 101 things going and sculpting 8 hours a day I was offered a full-time graphic design job at a great company. If I was offered this job after my first meeting at the school I would have taken it but maybe things do happen for a reason so I decided to turn the job offer down and keep following my dream now that I was back in with a chance of attending The Art Institute of Chicago.

After a lot of work and believing in myself I got all my application material and portfolio submitted before the Nov. 15th deadline. On Friday November 27th four days before my birthday I found out that I was accepted into the school. For my birthday that Tuesday I went to the school and picked my classes. Not only was this the best gift ever but I was also nominated for a Merit Scholarship for my unique voice present in my portfolio. The school awarded me $30,000 towards my education for which I am very gratefu. My first class was January 28 and I’ve been absolutely living my dream since! Now I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in my life as it is a dream come true!

What have I learned over the last 10 months? Believe in yourself and take the necessary steps to follow your dreams and if you hit a wall along the way it’s not the end of the world just find another way to get over it. Looking back now I couldn’t be happier that I was laid off because I am now a strong believer in “Things Do Happen for a Reason”

(to view some of Eoin’s current work see his website )

Would you like some online video coaching to help you realise your dreams?

Here’s what Eoin said in a card he sent me after his coaching:

“The Secret to a peaceful life is not just doing what you like but to like what you are doing”

As soon as I saw this quote Sean, I knew it was the right one to send. Thank you again for all your help over the last couple of months. Talking to you helped me get back on my feet and follow my dreams and realise “I CAN DO THIS”. This new adventure I am starting is very exciting for me, as I am sure it will open many doors, along with making the dream of having an exhibition come true – the invisible into visible! Thanks again Sean. Eoin Cullen

If you’d like some coaching on learning how to turn adversity into opportunity and make your dreams come true simply send me an email at I welcome All Enquiries

Sean M Kelly B.Sc.

Sean M Kelly

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Cleo Sanda-Fuga April 18, 2010 at 3:50 am

Fantastic inspiration, and much needed! Thank you Sean and Eoin!

I’ve heard that “Success is how high you bounce after you hit rock bottom”. Great bounce and success — congratulations!!


Carmen Fernandes April 19, 2010 at 7:24 am

I am going through the same experiences right now, and thank you for being an inspiration, i hope to bounce back with my new Dream, called the Remarkable U.


inspire April 19, 2010 at 4:37 pm

Cheers Cleo, glad you enjoyed it!

Here’s to your continued success


inspire April 19, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Hi Carmen

Thanks for your comment. I love the sound of your dream “Remarkable U”. What’s it all about? And when will we hear more about it?

May your most fulfilling dreams continue to come true!

Remember the “Dare to Dream” ebook can give you some great guidance along the way and its currently half price but I will be uping its price again soon.

Carpe Diem

Natalie Sisson May 18, 2011 at 4:51 pm

What a brilliant brilliant real life story. I loved that he turned down the job and decided to just fully commit to his dream and passion – and look at the result. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing Sean.

inspire May 18, 2011 at 5:58 pm

Hi Natalie

Yes it’s a fantastic story and I believe he is doing amazing things since.

Congrats on getting one of your articles in problogger.

And thanks for your comment.
Best wishes

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