This month marks the completion of a 5 Year Plan that I’ve often talked about on this blog. It would be an understatement to say that a lot happened to me over these past 5 years. I know that I’m not alone in this regard, and that a lot has happened to you over the past 5 years as well. What are my takeaways from all of this? What did I learn? What would I do different? What is next?
5 Year Plan Complete
Five years ago I found myself in a career that did not inspire me, and I decided to make some major changes to my life. I knew that good change would not happen easily or quickly, so I designed a 5 Year Plan that would see me through to the next stage. A stage that I hoped would bring more satisfaction and happiness.
I wanted a career that meant more to me than a paycheck. I didn’t feel like myself, or who I thought of myself as. I felt like I was one person during business hours, and another in the evening. I wanted my passions and livelihood to merge. I was tired of living two personas.
My plan exceeded my expectations, and I accomplished nearly everything that I set out to do ahead of schedule.
- I left a stable and financially secure career in insurance to pursue work that was more meaningful to me. I became a yoga teacher and personal trainer.
- I developed videos and products that I sell on my website.
- I accepted paid sponsorships and advertising on my website.
- I was a keynote speaker at a fitness blogging convention.
- I’ve provided corporate wellness programs.
- I opened a studio called JohnnyFit Bootcamp and Yoga where I trained hundreds of people.
- I grossed over six figures for the first time in my life through self employment income.
None of these accomplishments simply happened. They took persistence and dedication. They would not have happened had I accepted comfort and complacency. They would not have happened had I not spent thousands of hours making them so.
When I left my corporate job, I jumped into my new career 100%. There was no going back. There was no plan B. I was not out to “half-ass” this 5 Year Plan. I intended to succeed from the very beginning, even though I had no idea that I would actually do so.
By all measures I did succeed. I did not become homeless. I am recognized as an expert in what I do. I no longer fear that I will have to return to my old life.
Granted, luck had a hand in all of this, but I do firmly believe that when you act in accordance with your heart’s true intentions, you have a part in creating your own luck!
While my successes are interesting, those of you interested in making a career change to something more meaningful will find my failures more so. I believe I have learned the most from the things that didn’t go my way. However, allow me to place quotation marks around any use of the word “Failure”. Let me explain…
Everything won’t go according to your plan, and in this regard you can point to certain things as a “failure”. The thing about failure is that it gives us new perspectives, hardens our resolve, and motivates us to be better if we’re willing to learn from it instead of succumbing to indignant rationalizations.
The funny thing about failure is that it gives us new perspectives, hardens our resolve, and motivates us to be better if we’re willing to learn from it.
It’s hard for me to admit failure, let alone talk about it in a positive light. Here are three things that I consider a failure to some degree, and what my takeaways are.
A Failed Relationship
Just past the half way point of this 5 Year Plan, I was confronted with a choice; continue with a relationship that was important to me, or choose to continue on the path of reinvention that I had planned for myself. I chose my new career over the relationship.
The guidance and support that I received from this relationship made it possible in the first place for me to put this plan fully into motion.
Getting over that loss taught me a lot about myself, and I still continue to learn from it in retrospect. I learned about the type of partner that I need in my life. I learned that I can never be a good partner if I’m not spending my days meaningfully. Who I spend my time with, and what I do for a living are so important to my self identity that I cannot reconcile cheating one in favor of the other. They are both equally important to my personal happiness, and I have to communicate that clearly if I am to prevent future hardships and misunderstanding with my partners.
An Initial Goal Jettisoned
In my original 5 Year Plan I had aspirations of getting involved with non profit organizations and government to help change health and fitness policy. I do have a bachelor degree in political science and thought that would be the best way to utilize the degree with my new career.
Over the years I’ve become more cynical about our ability to change things politically. The Citizens United vs. FEC Supreme Court case has essentially eliminated real democracy in the United States. I don’t want this topic to take me off track from where I’m heading with this post, so I’ll simply say this: I no longer feel that my life’s energy is best spent trying to change policy democratically in a country that is no longer a real democracy.
I think that I can enact the most positive change by changing myself, and affecting those I come in contact with. I DO use my degree in my line of work. I communicate ideas clearly and effectively, and it’s through this communication that I motivate and create change.
A Studio Closure
After a year and a half I closed the doors of my training studio. This is something that I have yet to write about on this blog until now. It’s because I felt like a failure for closing the studio. So much of my success and personal identity were based on opening this location that changing direction has been a huge hit to my ego.
As the dust is settling my perspective is shifting.
To make a long story short, the studio was starting to struggle financially, and while I believe I could have made it through to more prosperous times, the job of running the studio was taking me away from what I actually enjoy doing – training people. Continuing the studio would have required me to shift my perspective on what I have been trying to attain for the past five years.
I realized that the thing I was trying to attain wasn’t necessarily a brick and mortar studio, it was a lifestyle. A lifestyle where I don’t have a boss over my shoulder, or have to wear khakis and a polo to a cubicle. I sleep in half of the days a week, and work intermittently throughout the day instead of being chained down for huge chunks of it. I work hard, but I have freedom in how and when I work.
I began this career by wanting to share something that I’m passionate about, but managing the studio was more about numbers and dollars than about living my life in accordance with my values. My work on this blog and all of the fitness media that I create was at a standstill. I was starting to dread my days in much the same way that I dreaded my days when I worked for the insurance company.
Instead of tightening my belt, I decided to shift gears again. Since the completion of my 500 hour yoga teacher training, I’ve been extremely interested in teaching more yoga classes at some of the better studios in Portland. No longer chained to the studio, I’ve been quickly able to fill my schedule, and spread myself around more studios in town.
For those of you in a similar situation, here are a few things that I would do differently:
- Location – Location is huge for a small brick and mortar business. My studio was in a residential neighborhood, and no matter how well my reviews were I had a hard time getting people to visit who didn’t already live in the direct vicinity of my location. Advertising is expensive, and if your business requires that you entice people to go out of their way, then you have an uphill battle.
- Afford a Manager – While I had seven people working for me in a training capacity, I did all the managerial duties myself: scheduling, website, payroll, bills, account maintenance, emails, newsletters, promotions, program development, and actual training too. It was too much, and it was not sustainable. If I would have had a business partner, or someone to perform half of these duties, then I think that things would have been different. These duties took me away from the things that I do enjoy, the reasons that I got into this business in the first place. When I had the choice of taking on more tasks that didn’t inspire me in order to make it through a financial rough patch, walking away seemed more preferable.
- Prepare Better – My business was doing amazingly well during its first year. Instead of putting some of the money away for less profitable times, I chose to purchase more equipment, and invest on growth right away. I mistakenly thought that my business would continue to improve beyond its early success. When the inevitable slow period arrived, I was not prepared to weather it.
What Did I Learn?
While managing/owning/running my own studio morphed into a job that I wasn’t exactly keen on, I did learn a lot and grow from the experience. I’ve also learned a lot from everything else since the creation of my 5 year plan.
Here are my takeaways and worth-whiles from the last 5 years:
- Having my own studio earned me a ton of street cred as a knowledgeable, competent trainer who knows his stuff, and can get you the results that you’re after. It was worth it.
- I had the opportunity to train hundreds of clients with different body types, fitness levels, injuries, illnesses, backgrounds, and goals. That experience is priceless and will continue to pay off for me for as long as I do this line of work.
- My network has grown exponentially. Being well networked can only lead to more success down the road.
- I did it! I owned my own training studio, and now I’ll never have to wonder “What If?”. I know that I’m happiest when I’m directly training people, and not managing numbers or other people. If I focus on what I’m best at and enjoy most, I believe it will pay off as well.
- I have lived my life as a fitness entrepreneur for 3 full years, and have confidence that I can do this, and that there is no going back.
- I learned that it’s easier to follow a map (5 Year Plan) than to drift aimlessly.
- I learned that I can accomplish more than I ever imagined.
- I learned that it’s a fools game to use money as a measurement of success. Money is a factor, but lifestyle is where it’s at.
- I learned that what I do, and how I spend my days are the key elements of my personal happiness.
- I learned that these past 5 years have prepared me for what I will do next. What is that? I’ll disclose it really soon. This blog, my health and fitness, and my ability to teach the things that I know are all involved.
In the meantime, try out my Online Bootcamp program, and spread the word if you like it! All of the workouts and classes in the program have been carefully crafted among real groups of people. The workouts have been honed and refined before I recorded them for you.
It’s a small thing to try it out. It comes with a 30 Day Money Back Guarantee. This online program allows me to continue to do what I love for a living, and to me, that’s huge!
Thanks so much for reading. Talk to you soon!