Taking Chances — my quest for career fulfillment and spreading happiness, health, and sweat
In my post from October 3rd, I wrote a bit about my recent move to California and utilizing this transition to “recalibrate” and pursue some new career paths that I’ve been interested in exploring for a while now, though was maybe lacked the confidence, resource, and [insert other excuse here] to do so before.
Initially, I was applying to jobs at various tech companies in the area, thinking that it was what one should do when young, educated, and in Silicon Valley. However, my heart just wasn’t into it. With the exception of a few really neat start-ups that I could definitely see myself working at, I felt that though a lot of the companies had cool culture and perks, the actual jobs themselves wouldn’t be all that exciting. Sometimes, that’s totally okay—to not love your day-to-day tasks if you love the company, people, and pay, or if your current job is a gateway to something else you really want to do—but I just wasn’t feeling inspired by the thought of starting another questionably-fulfilling desk job. Furthermore, many of the aforementioned jobs seemed like they would work “for now,” but I couldn’t really see myself being there long term, or having them result in something I was truly passionate about.
Therefore, after quite a bit of contemplating, meditating, and a dash of “eh, screw it, I’m going for it!,” I gave up the good-Ivy-League-grad-searching-for-a-neatly-packaged-full-time-job path that I’ve been on since graduation, and started looking for part-time gigs that would hopefully give me a clearer sense of what I’m looking for in a career, and ideally help me get there. Of course, I’m also trying to enjoy the ride and not get too caught up in “where I’m going,” because I’m definitely a believer in living in the present moment!
One of the things I’m currently working on is getting certified as a group exercise instructor—something I have actually been contemplating for a while, and wanted to do regardless of whether or not I ended up getting a full-time job. I have always loved and been really interested and invested in health, wellness, and fitness, and it’s something I spend a lot of my free time learning about and indulging in (making fun dishes and writing in this blog being just a fraction of it). I also love motivating and coaching people towards success, or, if anything, towards that gratifying feeling one can only get from an effective, sweaty workout. I’m already certified to teach Spinning (indoor cycling), and my former DJ self is really enjoying coming up with ride profiles and playlists. The search for instructor positions on the West Coast has actually been more fruitful than I initially anticipated because I’ve been both aggressive and super enthusiastic. Though I haven’t secured a regular gig, I’ve made some meaningful connections that currently show a lot of promise; I think studios and gyms really appreciate a passionate, go-getter attitude! In addition, I recently got hired to teach classes at a new start-up studio called Xercise Lab! The home studio is in Palo Alto and offers pre-choreographed cardio and strength classes that don’t require any equipment. The company is working with gyms across the country to license their workouts (a bit like Les Mills), so it’s exciting to be a part of. I am still in the process of training and learning the choreography, so probably won’t start officially teaching for a few more weeks. As I get more experience with teaching, and if I continue to enjoy it, I am also thinking about obtaining other secondary certifications (maybe in TRX, flexibility, etc.).
As much as I love sweating in a group, I see health and wellbeing as a holistic pursuit, and am therefore also very interested in becoming a lifestyle & wellness coach. I’ve had friends ask me why I don’t just go back to school to become a nutritionist or dietitian, and how wellness coaching differs. Nutritionist and dietitians, similar to personal trainers, are usually responsible for accessing someone’s overall health, and using their expertise to subscribe a detailed plan of action and/or diet for their clients. By contrast, wellness coaches are less focused on numbers and the clinical aspects of health, and more focused on empowering clients to make sustainable health and fitness changes based on their individual strengths and interconnected lifestyle choices. The goal is to help guide people to their best physical, mental, and emotional health. Many nutritionists, physicians, and psychiatrists work in conjunction with wellness coaches to give clients the best of both worlds; moreover, quite a few wellness coaches are also nutritionists or registered dietitians themselves! I am personally more interested in the wellness coaching aspect because I think it’s something I would enjoy more and thrive better in, but the scientific/clinical aspects of nutrition do fascinate me as well. So as not to pursue too much at once, I have been focusing on options to gain further training and credentials in the wellness coaching arena, while learning about the science of nutrition and physiology as more of a fun side thing for now (via reading and Coursera courses, woohoo!). I’ll also be studying up on the the latter in preparation for some of the group fitness certification tests mentioned earlier. I don’t really know what this will lead to in the future, but it would be really cool to start my own coaching business in the not-too-distant future, and maybe one day open a fitness/wellness center offering unique classes, personalized coaching, and delicious vegan smoothies ;)
On top of all that, I am still working on keeping the art skillz sharp. It isn’t as big a focus at the moment, but I do currently have a few small illustrations projects that are generating some income. As a new contributor to Chic Vegan, I am also creating illustrations for the site on a monthly basis (for now), for which I am getting paid in feel-good karmic points, plant-based creative inspiration, and exposure :)
In addition, I just started a part-time job at the Palo Alto Whole Foods (the oldest location in California) as one of their back-up store artists! My main tasks consist of making signs, writing and drawing on chalkboards and glass, and creating digital flyers. The hours are sparse for now, but it’s perfect for my current situation and I love the work so far! It helps that I get a sweet discount on all their products and that everyone who works there seems really happy. Not to be overlooked is also the company’s focus on health and sustainability, which should complement my own personal and professional health/wellness endeavors nicely.
To sum up this lengthy post: I’m definitely taking some interesting chances, but enthusiastically trying to build a career around health, fitness, wellness, and coaching, balanced out with a healthy dose of meaningful illustration work. Time will tell if this is what’s right for me…but hey, if I’m gonna take some chances and make some changes, no better time than now, right? :)
Have you been through a similar situation, or are going through one now? I’d love to exchange stories and motivation.