By: Katie Flaherty
Don’t let fear stop you from becoming yourself and doing what you love.
Once upon a time, I had a good job – a GREAT job. A job with amazing people. A high-paying job with security and growth avenues. A job that I worked hard for and which leveraged my degree. A job I had grown with for 8 years. For the first time in my life, I could save money. I could finally be the adult that all of my friends outside of NYC became years ago. But there was no feeling of purpose. There was no passion. And every morning when my alarm went off for work I felt like I was dying a little more inside.
Being comfortable is convenient. I like convenience. Who doesn’t? Convenience is easy and adulting is hard, so why not make it easy when we can? I know that feeling. But for years I also had the unsettling thought that there’s more for me out there than just buying ad space on the Internet.
So, I started soul-searching. I read self-help articles and spiritual books. I traveled solo to learn more about myself. During the lowest of the lows, I Googled “best jobs” out of sheer desperation. I remember researching what becoming a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) would require and thinking, “there’s no way. All I have is an advertising background.” I let fear stop me. But in the back of my head I knew what I wanted and I learned to start trusting the process.
The day I finally took myself seriously and decided that something needed to change was the day things started changing. I found myself a mentor in the world of fitness; someone to whom I could openly admit my ideas and my fears. I wanted to change my career. Not only change my career but also drastically change my financial stability and start myself at the bottom of the totem pole all over again. Saying it out loud made it real. One more person than just myself to hold me accountable. And so the journey began.
While traveling solo in Australia for three weeks in November 2016, I made a plan. I wrote it down sitting on a blanket on Manly Beach and never looked back. By the end of that year, I had ordered my NASM CPT hardback and began sticking to the timeline I had created. By the end of January, I had gotten my foot in the door at BRICK New York as a front desk associate – all part of the plan – learn the community; learn the business; wear a different hat. I picked up night/weekend shifts 3-4 times per week following my advertising job. This eventually transitioned into apprenticing/coaching in the morning and also evenings after the office. Some days, I squeezed in 3 different jobs and studying for the CPT exam before the sun went down. Social life became a foreign concept and my bed became my sanctuary. The hustle was real.
Fast forward a little over a year later and I am officially coaching full-time at BRICK with an ever-growing desire to strengthen my skill set and knowledge. Leaving the agency and my friends last year was one of the toughest experiences I’ve encountered. But as I reassured myself, there is never a good time to jump. There’s always going to be a reason to not let go just yet. There is always going to be someone telling you to make it work a little longer. But a leap of faith is a leap of faith.
I’ve had several people ask me how I did it; how did I make such a drastic career move and would I do it again? I would do it again in a heartbeat and have never been happier. Some tips/steps to follow if you are thinking of making a switch to a different career path:
1: Make a plan: Take some time to think it through. Write down hard goals and your ultimate timeline for each. What is the minimum or maximum time till you can make a change? Avoid making excuses.
2: Recognize how to apply your experiences: Even if you’re unhappy with your job, figure out which aspects of it can be leveraged in what you are looking for or somewhere else you can be successful. Maybe you have strong managing skills, training programs, or writing capabilities.
3: Seek a mentor and research by networking: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. For me, having those whom I could discuss my plans with held me more accountable. Find the time to ask questions. I used to sneak out during lunch breaks to meet other fitness trainers and pick their brains.
4: Find ways to save: Depending on the role you are planning to switch to and your current level of finances, another source of income may be necessary to grow your security before making the jump.
5: Think long term – but not always: My dad regularly asked me what would happen when I get old – how long can I actually coach before my own health is an issue? Truth is, not a bad question. But while long term plans and responsible decisions are important, remember that doors will open along the way and new paths will be created. Eventually you will be led to a new destination or plan.
6: Learn to not doubt yourself: Ask yourself the question “how can I?”, not “can I?”. Yes, you sure can. Now, figure out how to get there.
A wise friend once told me, “life laughs at us — because if we only knew what was just around the corner…” There is so much in store for all of us and we will unlock it if we are patient and trusting. It may be challenging; it may be a long process, but if you want it enough, it will undoubtedly be worth it. Do yourself a favor and hit that reset button with confidence.