BUFFALO, N.Y. – We’ve all heard it, in one way or another.

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

“Only do what makes you happy. You only live once.”

“Follow your heart.”

These are wonderful messages to live by and should be the guiding forces in everything we do, both personally and professionally.

However, there’s never a second part to those mantras.

No one has a billboard phrase for what comes next.

For Jenna Casillo and countless others, that would have been awfully helpful.

Working a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. schedule at an insurance company wasn’t what she dreamed of. Enticed by the steady paycheck and benefits, she stuck it out.

She knew she wanted to do meaningful work, and began selling real estate on the side.

“I feel that real estate is purposeful work,” she explained. “In real estate, you’re working with people, helping them find their dream situation, or getting them out of a nightmare. It was the opposite of my job, where I was punching a time clock and making mindless calls all day.”

In 2017 — after 10 years in the insurance industry — Jenna had enough.

“I went on vacation and decided I didn’t want to ever go back to there — so I didn’t,” she said. “I had a great boss, awesome benefits- a fantastic office, but I was so miserable that it just didn’t matter.”

With no extra money saved and no plan of attack, she put in her two-weeks notice and made her first steps toward a happier life.

Additionally, when WNY Metro Roberts opened its Lancaster office, Jenna switched brokerages and joined Metro Roberts as a full-time agent that same year.

“One thing I remember is I had just bought a new car that I had to work really hard to get,” she said. “I refused to return it and used that car as a motivation.”

Now dedicating herself to real estate full time, she trusted the resources around her to help guide her to where she wanted to be.

After taking the big leap of faith, reality set in and she had no choice but to remain focused.

“I took advantage of everything that Metro Roberts offered,” she explained. “I attended every training, every class, every event, and took advantage of coaching. I also took classes at the BNAR and used other industry-related resources. I really dedicated my time to getting organized and learning as much as I could, not expecting immediate results but knowing it was a solid time investment long term.”

It takes a certain level of mental toughness to create a clear goal, vision and business plan, and stick to it. Jenna fully embraced that, and let the fear of having to go back to her previous job drive her to achieve her goals.

“It all worked out,” she said. “I’ve replaced the salary from my insurance job, and can be my own boss. I can say ‘yes’ to more things now. I am more present in my family because I’m not bound to a schedule. I can be more involved in the things I love, and I can do meaningful work that makes me happy.”

When faced with a challenge, she believed in what she was doing, kept a level head and continued to work toward the steady lifestyle she desired.

“I wouldn’t recommend everyone to quit the way I did,” she laughed. “But I always encourage people to do what makes them happy. Even if you don’t have a plan, you can always figure it out. If you want something bad enough, do everything you can to achieve it.”