Career Transitions

November 11, 2013

Today’s post has been brewing for some time. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say though I’ve alluded to the changes that were in the works since we left Boston. Today I’m going to talk about my career transitions over the last year.

I’ll start by saying that career transitions seems to be the norm, especially for woman about my age. I have a number of girlfriends who have been going through this phase in their lives with me. It seems after college most of us landed in a career loosely based on what we’d studied in college. For the past 10 years most of us have been feeling our way around said career, paying off loans, trying to create a little savings, considering more schooling and always wondering if where we landed was really the place that we wanted to be.

I’ve had more conversations about passions, career happiness and callings with my friends than I can count. I blame Oprah, haha! This is just my way of saying that I don’t think I’m alone in the journey I’ve been on.

On this journey, it’s been great to read memoirs, articles, blog posts from people who took the plunge and uprooted their careers to follow a new path. I can say from experience that this takes a lot of courage. You have to put aside your ego to start again, for some of us reducing our paychecks from comfortable to next to nothing. I can’t stress enough how fortunate I am to have such a supportive partner throughout all of this. But, for every success story you hear about someone quitting their job to pursue a passion and coming out the other side a famous writer, pastry chef or entrepreneur, you don’t often hear the stories of it not working perfectly.

That is my long intro into my own career transition story. As most of you know last September I quit my job in advertising after 10 years. I was burnt out, feeling devoid of creativity and ready to make a change. I’d dabbled in teaching yoga part-time while working in San Francisco but it was hard with a job that ate up most of my free time. When we moved to Boston I decided it was now of never. I took the plunge to be a yoga teacher.

career transitions

Let me start by saying teaching is harder than it seems and requires a lot more than just showing up at a studio for an hour or two every other day. In order to be a successful teacher you need to be business savvy, creative, a continuous learner, a marketer, an active listener, a sometimes therapist and a constant proponent of your own brand, among a myriad of other things.

As I began teaching I realized what a steep learning curve I had. I was my biggest critic but I wasn’t very good at being my biggest supporter. I second guessed myself all the time, comparing myself to other teachers constantly. This can be incredibly helpful some of the time but you have to know when to shut it off and how to find your own style and voice.

Somewhere in the beginning of this year, after a solid 6 months of full-time teaching, I got into a good groove and started having fun. My class sizes were growing and included some regulars which helped put me at ease and made teaching so much more enjoyable.

Still, I was nagged by the idea that teaching full-time just wasn’t enough for me. My mind was plagued with whether this was truly my lifelong calling and passion. I could see the enthusiasm of my fellow teachers and although teaching brought me joy, it wasn’t bringing me that all-encompassing fulfillment that I thought a passion should. When you see teachers in their element and I mean really in their element, you just know, their teaching is electric. If you’ve never experienced this kind of teaching, take a class with Rusty Wells, Debbie Steingesser, Goldie Kaufenberg, Jennifer Jarrett, Kim Rajotte, Tim Floreen, Lynne Begier, Katie Flanagan or Olivia D’Ambrosio and you’ll understand what I mean.

As the year wore on, I had one eye out for the memoir, the article, the blog post about the teacher who quit their corporate job to teach full-time and didn’t feel overjoyed. It never emerged. Maybe I’m the only one or maybe the story of tried and failed isn’t as compelling as tried and succeeded.

So as our time in Boston drew to a close and we looked toward our next adventure in Denver I thought long and hard about what my next steps might look like, what would bring me the most joy? As I sat with this question I realized it wasn’t teaching full-time. Please don’t get me wrong, I still wanted to teach, it’s an amazing honor to be able to share the practice of yoga. But in order to be the best teacher I could be, I would need to make some changes. Changes that included both teaching and some semblance of a marketing job! Yes, you read that right, I wanted to go back into the world I had happily left just a year before.

That realization stung but also felt honest.

career transitions

In the past few months I’ve been interviewing and recently took a job with a start-up that I am over the moon excited about. However, the universe also fulfilled my request to continue teaching. I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up two classes a week with a local studio that work with my new schedule.

So the moral of this long story is that its okay if your path diverges from where you thought it was going. Honestly, we should constantly be adjusting the path anyway, it’s not a static thing. We hear so often about the triumphs of leaving the typical 9-5 in pursuit of something more unconventional. But, we hear very little in the other direction. I’m a testament to the fact that it’s also okay to come back the other way, this time with more knowledge and focus on what will work best. This year has taught me so much, most importantly, that change should not be feared. Change has led to some amazing self discoveries. Discoveries that I never anticipated but that feel right for where I am today. So, forge your own path, even if it differs from the norm.

Enjoy and Exhale!

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  • Reply Km November 11, 2013 at 10:25 am

    i love this so much and am so proud of you lis!

    • Reply Lisa November 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Thanks Kels!

  • Reply Emily K @ Leaf Parade November 11, 2013 at 10:51 am

    You are so brave! Cheers to you and your new adventure : )

    • Reply Lisa November 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      Thank you Emily, it’s been an adventure indeed.

  • Reply Allison S November 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Good for you!!! Sounds like a good mix no matter how you got to it 🙂 I know one day after being “mommy” ill fall back into business life again!! Certain things take precedence!! It won’t be the last time you have to change things up I’m sure!!

    • Reply Lisa November 11, 2013 at 8:48 pm

      Oh Allison, I’m certain this won’t be the last time. I’m really happy to have had this year to try my hand at different work. I think teaching will likely be a good compliment when there are little ones!

  • Reply nicole November 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    I’m so proud of you for doing what feels right to you, and for being honest about it! Also for trying it! I have a feeling you are not alone but it doesn’t make for as good of a story, you know? And having done the freelance life for a year now (!!), I also miss the consistency of a steady paycheck and look forward to that in the new year even as I will continue doing my writing … I think it’s certainly possible to balance both – if you have the energy – and just doing occasional ‘check ins’ with yourself to see if you want to continue or shift again is key. You know this of course 🙂 Also – your comment on my blog made me cry (in a good way) a bit and I miss you too!!!

  • Reply Laura November 12, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Congratulations for having the courage to leave and then to go back! It’s about knowing what is best for you – and having the strength to do it. I left my career to pursue my phd full time this year – and it’s still scary but I don’t regret it for a second. I won’t go back there, but I might to a similar position if it was offered – sometimes it’s just about what we need at that moment.

    • Reply Lisa November 19, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Thank you Laura. It is a scary decision to change your life but as you know, it can bring on great joy as well. Congrats to you for going back for your PHD, that’s quite a feat to take on. I think the hardest part is getting started, once you’re back in a new groove it gets much easier. I’ll have to follow along with your adventures on your blog!

  • Reply Amanda November 13, 2013 at 9:30 am

    This is such a well-articulated, honest post. As someone who took the leap and transitioned away from a 9-5 to try some new things, I totally get it. Making those big changes is exceptionally hard, but I think going back to what you left (marketing work for you) takes a lot of courage. As you said, we should constantly be adjusting our paths. I’m personally in this somewhat weird in-between place right now, having left my SEO work in August but not starting my culinary nutrition program until Spring. Part of me loves the downtime and freedom, but it’s also scary to have the time for lots of self-reflection (sans paycheck!). I have no idea where things will net out and for the first time probably ever I am trying to embrace the present, be grateful for the opportunity, and just go with the flow.
    So happy you’ve been able to incorporate both marketing and teaching into your day-to-day! Also, I am totally going to check out those yoga teachers you mentioned! It looks like Back Bay Yoga is the place to be?

    • Reply Lisa November 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Amanda, I’m so excited for your new adventure. I’ll be following along for sure. I want to hear all about it. The downtime can be very scary but it can also be incredibly liberating. Enjoy it while you have it and know that no matter where your next steps lead you you’ll learn something. As for yoga studios, I loved Back Bay Yoga and spent most of my time there. I taught at All One and loved that little studio as well if you’re looking for a smaller class size.

  • Reply Kim November 14, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Kudos to you Lisa. Change is hard, no matter what it is. What a blessing to have had Michael by your side through all of it.

    • Reply Lisa November 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Thank you Kimo, I couldn’t agree more, he’s been such a blessing, plus he’s awesome to be around 🙂

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