How I Left My 9-5 Job to Make My Health a Priority
Keep Going, Keep Growing
I am a firm believer that our experiences help us grow. I believe in the saying that you “grow through what you go through.” Many of the approaches and insights I share with my Nutrition and Health Coaching clients have come from both my professional and personal life experiences.
As a Registered Dietitian working in healthcare, many people may be surprised to hear that I struggled with my health and burnout. Here is the thing… I started working in healthcare because I value my health and the health of others. But my training in a healthcare profession did not do-away with the beliefs about "being successful" that formed as I was growing up.
Raised by two high achieving parents that both worked full time, I started my career expecting to follow in a similar vain. I was brought up to believe that the more you work, the more success you will have… and the more success you have, the better you can provide for your family.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not faulting my parents or the way I was raised. They did a great job, and those beliefs may have been valid in the past.
However, in the last few years, my world has been turned on its head forcing me to confront these beliefs, and ask the question… what is TRULY important to ME?
Over the last few years, I got divorced, suffered anxiety and depression, had a serious health diagnosis, and broke my foot (during lockdown, in a global pandemic, I might add!). With each upheaval, I was faced with the same questions – What is important in my life? What will bring me fulfillment?
Yes, big questions!
As a single, overwhelmed, mom, I knew something had to give. I have suffered burnout, repeatedly. I knew a big change was needed to create the fulfilling, healthy life that I have always wanted. I desired to work smarter, not harder. I also came to realize that no one else is going to make this happen, except for ME. No one is going to make MY LIFE a priority, except for ME. I am the BOSS of my own BALANCED LIFE!
So, these seemingly unfortunate events that have happened in the last few years have helped me move from a victim mentality, to owning my own life! They helped me realize that I wanted more time for my health, for my kids, for my life and for fulfillment!
In the Spring of 2021, I made the bold decision to leave my secure, 9-5 job that I have had for 10 years, to go “all in” on myself and my own business as a private practice Dietitian and Health Coach.
So far, I have not had one regret taking this leap!
Now, nothing happened overnight. I took the time to figure out what I wanted for myself and to develop a plan. I would say that I spent about 6 months to a year prepping. During that time, I took small, strategic steps to help better align my decisions with the things that I value the most.
I know that there are other women out there, who are also feeling overwhelmed and burned out. I have no doubt… because I have met some of them. To help support other women in their own journeys towards living a healthy life, I wanted to share a few things I learned along the way.
Know Your Finances
Often the biggest piece that keeps us stuck is the fear that we may not be able to financially provide for ourselves or our family if we choose to leave our job, without another one lined up. It is not like when we were 20 years old. At 40, I have to provide for my family, pay my mortgage, insurance, bills, etc. Being single means that there is no partner to help pull up the slack. I am it!
I spent time looking at my fixed expenses and how much it took for me and my kids to get by month to month. From there I considered my savings. We all have our own plans for how we allocate our savings, but given how important a change is to you, you may feel that using your savings or part of it to get by is worth it. For me, it was! I figured out how much money it would take for me to “get by” for 6 months and determined that I was willing to use my savings if needed. Why 6 months? It seemed liked a reasonable amount of time to give my business a chance to get going before I should start to look for employment somewhere.
In addition, I considered the basic expenses that would be required as start-up costs for my business. Businesses have expenses. I had an idea of how much money I would need to have available. Here are some expenses that I considered:
Computer and technology
Professional fees and insurance
Training and coaching (yes, I had a coach, and fully encourage others too as well)
Subscriptions and monthly fees
This is high level, but it will give you an idea.
Be Clear on Your Goals
This is such an important piece! You will have days that are tough. You will be confronted with choices along this journey that your “ego” may be tempted by.
Being clear your “whys” will help you stay focused and make aligned decisions.
For me, my goals were:
To work in a way that allows me to have flexible hours, to be with my kids more often and be able to focus on the healthy routines that keep me at my best, everyday.
To have less of a daily commute. I want to spend less of my life in the car, and more of my life actually living.
To make at least the same amount of money or more than I have before.
To do more work that I am passionate about.
Fear, ego and old beliefs can creep in easily. This is why having your goals outlined, written down and reviewed on a regular basis is so important. Even in the last few months, I have been presented with opportunities that seemed quite tempting, BUT didn’t fulfill my over-arching goals fully. Outlining my goals gave me a solid framework for decision making so that I keep focus on the life that I desire!
Which brings me to my last point…
Like I mentioned before, I invested in a life coach. Much of what we worked on was maintaining a healthy mindset. THIS was so worth it, especially since I work by myself in my private practice. I know this may not be an option for others, but it sure did help me.
If you can’t invest in a coach, I would suggest taking time to identify and work through your limiting beliefs. In a journal or notebook, draw 2 columns. In the first column write out all the reasons why you don’t think you will reach your goals or have success; what are the things that you think are in your way?
In the opposite column, brainstorm all possible solutions. We tend gravitate to the ways of doing things that are familiar and comfortable. However, there are lots of ways to solve problems. Keep an open mind and stay flexible. Without a doubt, you can find an alternative solutions to a perceived barrier.
Having a good perspective was also important. Change takes time! Recovering from burnout takes time (seem my blog post Stress & Burnout: Simple Nutrition Tips to Thrive Again)! I have reminded myself often to be patient and it is okay if things don’t shift immediately.
Lastly, it is important to have a strong mindset, is because not everyone is going to support what you want to do. I found this to be the most surprising part. Despite having very supportive and loving friends, my decision to leave my secure job was quite triggering for some people. There were more than a few that tried to convince me not to take the leap.
If I hadn’t been clear on my goals and if I hadn’t worked on having a strong mindset, I might have let fear lead me to stay in my secure job, even though it was burning me out. Instead, because I was clear on my goals and had worked through my limiting beliefs, I was able to listen to their concerns without losing focus on what I wanted for myself.
Taking a leap to change your life like this is not simple. I am not suggesting that everyone leave their 9-5 job. However, I do think that it is not emphasized enough on “career day” in high school that we should look for work that also fits the life that we want for ourselves. We may take aptitude tests and consider our career interests, but we are not asked how we want to spend our time, take care of ourselves, and find fulfillment.
So, whether you are just starting out, or are mid-way through your career, I share this to show you that it is okay to make your life a priority and that you are the BOSS of the life that you desire!
I’m a dietitian who works closely with women in Collingwood, Blue Mountains, Thornbury, Grey Bruce and beyond to help them achieve their health and weight loss goals so they can feel confident and live their best life. Find out how you can achieve success by booking your free discovery call today.