About three years ago I started thinking about making a big change. I was in Spain and had stumbled into a retreat where I learned about wellness and yoga and mindfulness. I was eating super clean and working out and meditating and I even worked with my first life coach. This was all pretty new to me, but after just a few short days “in it,” I felt better than I’d ever felt. I spent an entire night awake one night – likely processing all that was happening – and literally shot up in bed somewhere around 4am.
I want to be a health coach!
It hit me like one of those really cliché lightbulb moments you see in the movies; an epiphany, a come-to-Jesus moment.
I thought I was probably the last person who should become a health coach, as I hadn’t led a particularly healthy life thus far. But feeling as phenomenal as I was that week, I thought about all my loved ones back home who I wanted to feel the same. I thought about those whose health and well-being was suffering, and thought, maybe I can help them with all that I’ve learned.
So the seed was planted. I started researching and learning more and reading EVERY article on MindBodyGreen and Elephant Journal and some others in between. I found vegan recipes and contemplated yoga teacher training. I created a grand vision for the wellness center I would eventually open, and the classes and resources I would provide (note: still a plan).
About a month later I found myself in Barcelona, kinda ruminating on all this for a month. It was there that I decided to try on this new lifestyle of mine, to see if I could sustain this healthy life myself before I tried to help others do it, and before I headed back to the US where there were other pressures and expectations of who I was and what I’d do.
During my time there, I randomly stumbled into the profile of an American health coach who lived in Barcelona. I thought it was fate, and reached out to her to meet. We did, and I even hired her to help me with my own health concerns (namely, terrible digestion). But we also talked about me making the shift into the health coaching field. I shared with her my major fear and my immense resistance. She asked why I was so reluctant to go for it, and I told her: what if this isn’t my thing? What if I go down this road, only to find out I’m not passionate enough to stick with this, either?
Basically, what if I fail?
And then she gave me some of the best words of encouragement anyone has ever given me.
So what if I do this for a few years and then decide to change to something else? So what if not everything is permanent?
This shifted everything for me, and it's how I ultimately find freedom and courage to move forward with… whatever. Because why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to find the thing? The one person, the one career, the one city, or house, or style, or workout routine? Who the hell said we only get one of everything?
And, furthermore, who says we’re a “failure” if something doesn’t last? Not all friendships, or romantic relationships, or jobs, or passions, or careers, or trends are meant to last forever. They serve their purpose, and when we start to feel them slipping away, we freak out because we think we’ve failed.
What if we find gratitude for the role they played in our lives, for the lessons and experience they offered, and gracefully move on? And what if we kick this fear to the curb, and just give things a shot, knowing it doesn’t have to be THE thing?
I realize this is a pretty non-committal stance. And maybe that’s just me. It’s a perspective shift, one which I can apply to a lot of past relationships, and jobs, and projects, and ideas.
Did you know this isn’t the first business I’ve ever started? That’s right, when I was 24 I started a purse-making biz. I was quite the little seamstress through high school and college, and feeling bored at my first “real” job (and desiring freedom from the 9-5), I decided to give it an honest go. I had SO MUCH passion behind me, I barely slept. All I wanted to do was stay up and sew and draw new designs and pick out new fabrics. I worked 9-5 and then came home and learned html to build my website (where was squarespace then?) and took the photos (iPhones didn’t exist yet) and made hundreds of purses by hand. I consigned in a few local shops and on the weekends I’d stand at booths at craft and street fairs and try to sell my goods. They moved... slowly.
After about a year my interest waned and my wrist got tendonitis and I kinda never wanted to sew anything ever again. So I stopped. And I don’t regret any of it, and I certainly don’t consider it a failure. I tried it, and now I know. It was a really fun time - and who knew - I learned some stuff and met some really cool people at those fairs! I still have a few of my own purses in the closet, and every now and then a friend or relative will bust one out and I’ll recall that time, in my early 20’s, when I was working around the clock on something I was really excited about.
It’s part of my story now. Just like my short-lived modeling “career” in high school, or that year I spent hanging out with a Belgian guy all over the world, or the friendships that were based on a need – mine, or theirs, or both – but faded after time.
We often hear the question: What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
What if, instead, we ask: What would you do if you could? Like, if you were allowed to?
I never became a health coach. I hemmed and hawed over it for a long time, still worried that it wasn’t the exact right thing for me. When I finally decided to just say fuck it and become a health coach as a starting point, I hired a business coach to help me set it up and, wouldn’t you know it, I became a life coach.
So maybe I skipped a step, I avoided that “failure,” but if I hadn’t decided to just start down the path and see where it led, I wouldn’t have started this business. Maybe I'd still be sitting here wondering what kind of coach I'm supposed to be.
What's the thing you've been wanting to try but are afraid it's not quite right?
What's the thing you're hanging on to because you're afraid you'll be a "failure" if you let go?