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Building a successful business as a freelancer, digital nomad or entrepreneur is a challenging journey. At Passionfruit we are on a mission to help you. In our ‘Unfiltered Story’ blog series we do this by interviewing a digital nomad, freelancer or entrepreneur to share their unfiltered stories with you.

This week we interview Noortje Timmermans. This power woman started her career in the military before she went to work in a hospital. Realizing that this wasn’t going to make her happy she went on a journey to find freedom and happiness together with her partner and their son. This is her story.

WHY DID YOU BECOME AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Together with my partner I have one big goal in life: to experience as much  freedom as possible every day. Freedom to travel the world whenever we wish. Freedom to work wherever we like.

Above all, we want to escape the standard, rat race life. The life where you rush through life each day, bringing the kids to daycare, work from 9 to 5 pick up the kids and make diner to end up on the coach at the end of the day completely exhausted. Only to repeat it the next day. Living from weekend to weekend, and from vacation to vacation. Horrible!

We have lived this life for years (and worse) because of our jobs with changing shifts. Until we decided it was time to drastically turn around our lives. Although (or maybe it’s because) we have a young kid, we want to design our lives around the things that are most important to us. We want to spend as much time as possible with each other.

WHAT DID YOUR JOURNEY LOOK LIKE?

My journey began in the military. The adventure, the exercises, life in the barracks. Awesome, I loved it! Next to my job in the military as an ambulance driver I studied Nursing, so after my time in the military in ended up working in a hospital. That turned out to be a complete shock.

When you work in a hospital you have no control over your days. Everyday it was a race against the clock because so many things needed to happen in a short period of time. We were inside the hospital for entire days, with a fixed temperature of 18 degrees celsius and no time to get some fresh air. I started to become unhappy in my work. A promotion to become an operations assistant only made things worse. I now felt completely isolated. We went on a trip around the world – a dream we had for years – and I hoped that would change everything.

WHAT DID THAT TRIP CHANGE FOR YOU?

When I came back I found out that the only thing that had changed was me. The hospital and the work was still the same, so I became even more unhappy. Then was when I quit my job and got into a sales job in the medical world. I loved the freedom that job gave me, but sales turned out to be not my cup of tea. Looking back I already knew that this job wasn’t a job for me during my interviews. But, having succeeded for all assessments and getting a big salary and a nice car made me ignore my feelings. That turned out to be a big mistake.

After ten years of being unhappy in my work I ended up at home. I was lost and totally exhausted, being home for a while was good for me. But I’m not a person to sit at home for a long time. I like doing things and being busy. I went on a long search to find out what work I wanted to go doing. At the same time we decided to move to Bali for at least a year. That’s when I came across a video about 50 digital nomad jobs. Through this video I found a job that sounded like it was meant for me. A job that allowed me to be location independent, design my own life and use my skills to help others. I became a Virtual Assistant.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING THAT YOU ARE MOST EXCITED ABOUT?

I’m really excited about what I’m doing with and for my clients at the moment. I give them tips and inspiration for their social media content, design content calendars, edit podcasts and do research on all kinds of questions my clients can’t find an answer for. Besides that I’m also building online academies for entrepreneurs who want to offer an online training. I really enjoy helping my clients with their businesses.

Working makes me happy now, but what I love most is the time I spend with my partner and our child. We have an old campervan that we use a lot to go camping and when the weather is good we like to go on a boat trip.

The little things in life make me feel super happy. Being on my stand up paddle board surrounded by nature. Seeing the moon, the stars or a sunset. Having good conversations with nice people. Those are the things I love in life.

WHAT WERE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES?

My biggest challenge was to have the courage to listen to my heart. For years I made important decisions in my life based on logic and what people in my surroundings expected of me. I wasn’t really in touch with what I was feeling, so of course I wasn’t able to listen to my feelings.

Now I have learned to listen to my heart, trust my feelings and don’t do things because people expect them from me. Sometimes that’s still a challenge for me.

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST PASSION?

Stand up paddling and helping others building and growing their businesses are my biggest passions at the moment. I really love nature and would love to be able to do something to take care for the world.

WHAT IS YOUR MISSION?

At the moment it is my mission to design our lives in a way that we experience as much freedom as possible. Life is too short to live for the weekend, we want to enjoy every day and be free to do what we want to do.

On top of that I’d love to do something good for the world and make a positive impact. When I was in the military I had a plan to go work for Doctors without borders or Merci ships, where you had to operate on a boat on open waters. I never came to the point to realize those plans, but one day I’ll do something like that.

WHAT IS YOUR BIG DREAM? (THE ONE THAT SCARES THE SH*T OUT OF YOU)

My big dream is to move with our family to Bali and live there for at least a year. I’m super excited but this dream sometimes terrifies me as well. There are a lot of unclear things that make this control freak very uncomfortable. But I know this is what we want to do and what we have to do. I’m convinced that doing this will bring us beautiful experiences. And maybe we don’t come back at all and build a life there. Who knows?

WHAT ARE YOUR SUPERPOWERS?

My biggest superpower is my kindness and being real. What you see is what you get. I always want the best for everyone. I’m very empathic and quickly get what someone needs.

WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION AND WHY?

My biggest inspiration are my parents. When we – my brothers and I – were born my dad was the one who went to work part time, so my mom could work full time. That was very unusual for that time. Now my partner and I are planning to the same. He is going to take care of our son, while I work as a virtual assistant. But most important for us is to do it in a way that we have as much time for each other as possible.

Another inspiration to me have been people with their own businesses. I always admired the courage people had to abandon the security and comfort of being employed.

WHAT ARE YOUR 3 TRUTHS ABOUT LIFE?

If you truly want something you can do it!

Life lessons come back on your path when you don’t listen to them, or when you don’t listen good enough.

We are on this earth to be happy.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE QUOTE?

If you never try, you’ll never know (I have that one tattooed on my body).

FOLLOW US FOR MORE!

We are grateful Noortje took the time to share her story. Check @doornoortje on Instagram for more. We hope Noortje’s story inspires you to listen to your heart, pursue your dreams (even when they scare the sh*t out of you) and design your life around happiness.

We’d love to know if you want to be the next freelancer, digital nomad or entrepreneur we interview to share your unfiltered story. Please send us a message or leave a reply.

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