At 3am, Kristina woke in a panic. The list she wrote that night started a globally successful business.

The following is an extract from kikki.K founder Kristina Karlsson’s new book ‘Your Dream Life Starts Here‘.

Imagine this. At the age of 22, sleepless at 3am one morning, I woke my partner, Paul.

“What am I going to do with my life?” I whispered more than once in frustration.

I’d been restless for months, having just moved to a new country, and still getting to grips with a new culture, a new language, a new life. I missed my native Sweden desperately, my family and friends.

I’d had some great life experiences, but no university education, and much of my work experience till then had been in hospitality – mostly as a waitress.

I was living pay cheque to pay cheque. I felt frustrated. I felt stuck. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life, and I craved direction and purpose.

“Grab a pen and a notepad,” he said groggily, but surprisingly patiently for that hour in the morning. “Let’s write down on paper what’s important to you. Let’s see if we can help you get some direction.”

What ended up on paper that night was what I now call my 3am List.

I certainly didn’t know it at the time, but that night Paul inspired and empowered me to really dream. It was to be a profoundly pivotal moment in my life.

Neither of us realised exactly what we were doing or where it would take us, but in that 3am moment of personal angst, Paul challenged me to cast aside all constraints, all limiting thoughts, all complaints and frustrations, all of my head-driven thinking. He dared me to connect with my heart and my feelings, and to dream about what I really wanted from life at that point in time.

My 3am List was the first time in my life I’d put my dreams on paper and the power of this one simple act was remarkable. It gave me a crystal-clear sense of how my dream life could be, and the feeling was exhilarating.


On my 3am List was the following:

  • A career I’ll love driving to work for every Monday morning – doing something I’m passionate about, which gives me a sense of meaning and which I’ll love!
  • Something that will keep me in touch with my family and friends in Sweden (I loved my new country, having moved to Melbourne from my native Sweden, but had been feeling really homesick and wanted to find a long-term solution that drew together the best of both worlds)
  • Something that can be a business of my own (I loved the idea of the freedom it might provide and the life I could build around that – little did I know how much hard work and how long that would take)
  • Earn $500 a week (the amount I felt I needed to live on and to be able to call home regularly – phone calls were very expensive in those days!)

That simple list of my dreams, written on paper, was the catalyst for me setting out in my early twenties – with almost no money, no training, no experience, English as a second language … but with bucketloads of passion, drive and a couple of well-stretched credit cards – to start up what would become a globally loved brand and to build my dream life.


Kristina Karlsson is the founder of phenomenally successful stationery brand kikki.K. In her new book 'Your Dream Life Starts Here' Kristina shares personal insights from her amazing journey and guides readers to achieve their own dream life with powerful ideas and simple proven tools.