How I Turned My Passion Into A Career: And How You Can, Too

Are you unhappy in your job? You’re not alone. According to a 2014 report by the Conference Board, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs.

“Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future.Think [about] how really precious the time you have to spend is, whether it’s at work or with your family. Every minute should be enjoyed and savored.” 
– earl nightingale –


Are you unhappy in your job?

You’re not alone. According to a 2014 report by the Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group, 52.3% of Americans are unhappy in their jobs. In other words, more than half of us do not like what we’re doing professionally, we’re not inspired, we’re not learning or growing, and consequently, we’re not living our best lives. What’s worse is that we’re aware of this incongruency, and yet, we’re not doing anything about it! It’s hard to imagine now—after starting Health Coach Institute, a company and industry for which I am truly passionate—that I used to be one of those people.

Before HCI, I was a professional cookie and pie taster, (a.k.a. glorified sugar junkie), earning $17 an hour. You don’t get recruited for that kind of job unless you are really good at eating cookies, which I was. But nobody can eat sugar every day for 10 years and feel awesome. My job was literally killing me. I knew I needed a radical change.

So I went searching and discovered this thing called health coaching, which seemed almost too good to be true. Who doesn’t want to be paid to be your healthiest, most vibrant, alive self? This looked like the best career ever! “But can I really make a career out of it?” I thought. “Will people pay for this?” And of course, it cost money to get the education I needed.

I had many doubts, but I also felt this tug, this burning curiosity that I couldn’t seem to shake. I almost bailed on the idea that I could have this kind of career—one where I could wake up every day confident I was going to change someone’s life and be well paid for it. A little voice inside whispered, “If you don’t bet on you, who will?”

So I bet on me, and I will be forever grateful for that gamble.

Getting There

My first year as a health coach I went from zero to 72 paying clients and a wait-list of people wanting to work with me. Over the next three years my practice quadrupled. Then, in 2010, I met my business partner and HCI co-founder, Carey Peters, and together we went on to build a multi-million dollar company called Holistic MBA, which was a business training for health and personal development coaches who were already certified and wanted to launch. Many of our students became enormously successful with that graduate-level training, but they told us they wished they had been able to get their foundational health coaching education with us so they could have implemented the business infrastructure from the start. We realized that we needed to create a coaching school based on a new paradigm.

We spent four years researching all the top programs out there until we found a way to combine two seemingly polar opposite things—holistic practice and business practice. We knew that masterful coaching had the power to transform people’s lives through habit change; self-reflection; clear, inspiring action plans; accountability; support and stretch. We designed a program that would allow holistic-minded people to become successful, business savvy coaches that can market themselves in today’s world.

The first months running the Health Coach Institute were just like they are with most startups – stressful! You’ve got it all on the line and the only thing certain is uncertainty. There were definitely days I wanted to run away and leave it all and backpack solo around the world, but it also was enlivening like nothing else. I’m a firm believer that genius only emerges in the space of uncertainty. You’ve got to be willing to take risks. And in that process, you discover who you are capable of being.

Career Commitment

When we launched HCI it was definitely like a birth—a labor of love. HCI is our baby. We nurtured it from day one like you would a newborn and have been there for it every step of the way. It’s exciting to see that it’s now in the world as an independent entity and thriving. However, we weren’t total novices in building a company—having first built Holistic MBA from scratch—but HCI was different. It just grew wings of its own and it’s still growing exponentially. We started off with a tiny team of a handful of people and Carey and I multi-tasked like crazy. Plus, I was raising a toddler, so I had to grow skills for living, loving and leading in a way that pleasurably integrated. I’ve seen too many people burn out, and I felt committed to finding a way to do it differently.

This is where having passion for your career becomes critical. I believed in this dream, so I was 100% focused on seeing it through—despite the challenges. Like with any love, you can’t just quit when the going gets tough. It’s in the challenges that you grow. It’s in pushing your edges that you learn, not only to fly, but to soar.

Making The Leap

When you stop asking for permission and start trusting your own instinct, your calling taps you right on the shoulder. If you resist it, it will persist. If you ever feel anxious, there’s a good chance something is not aligned and that there’s something calling out in you, wanting to be expressed. Listen to it. You will feel scared because it might require change, but notice, you can feel really, really scared, and ready at the same time.

I didn’t know what saying “yes” to becoming a health coach would mean for my life. I didn’t know that Carey and I would create Holistic MBA or the Health Coach Institute, but I knew that I wanted to live life with no regrets and contribute to a healthier, happier, more conscious world that I’d be proud to pass on to my daughter so to me, Health Coaching became a calling I couldn’t ignore.

Carey and I are living examples of turning your passion into a career and so are thousands of students we’ve mentored over the years. If we can do it and they can do it, so can you. My biggest piece of advice is to start before you are ready! Life is always busy, and we can get tricked into thinking there will be some perfect time to start. But when you know what you want to be doing for the rest of your life, why wouldn’t you want to start the rest of your life right now?

Trust what inspires you. Believe that you can make your dreams come true. Bet on you. And that common saying is true: if you choose a job you love, you will never work a day in your life.

I hope that in the future I can continue to be present every step of the way on this incredible journey where we get to watch thousands of people become their best selves and help others do the same. I hope HCI is an example that living a purposeful, soul-driven life is not only possible, but joyful and meaningful. I hope to be witness to the world waking up to health coaching creating a new paradigm in health care – one in which peak health is a prerequisite for a happy life. This is the future I am helping to create for my daughter and for generations to come. It’s a legacy that I hope will live on in every person’s body-mind-soul forever.


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