Updated: Jul 24, 2020
2015 took my first YTT - was just about to graduate with double honors in cell biology-neuroscience + nutritional biochemistry + working @ lululemon + working in biochem research
2015/2016 working in research + teaching yoga
2017 travel/training/teaching/learning photography/videography
2018 first year of establishing my company WIO (whole in one int.) and business
2019 second year of business and establishing Om Life Living
Every time I meet someone new, they ask me about my journey. Let me tell you, it was one heck of a road full up/downs, winding turns, and all the learnings, and I wished there was someone there to help me along the way. And, looking back, there are so many learnings I know now that I wish I could apply then. So here's a little guide for anyone out there (and all you aspiring or new yoga teachers) thinking about quitting their 9-5 to build your personal brand:
ADDRESS YOUR FEARS
Fears are real. And while they do protect us, they can hold us back to. So before you leave your two weeks notice, get clear on each and every one of your fears AND create a plan in addressing each one. Some of the most common fears (and ones I personally went through) are:
Fear "I've already invested so many years in ___(whatever you currently do)___" This was one of the biggest fears for me. I had already spent 6 years of studying science and working in research to become an MD. And, I was so afraid that all that time, energy, and money would become a waste. 3 years after fully quitting, I can tell you, everything I learned from that time has come in handy someway or another NOW. No, I might not be drawing biochemical pathways and drawing conclusions from enzyme assays, but the critical thinking, organization, how to explain complex theories in layman terms, etc. etc. has been so helpful in building my brand. Solution "I recognize everything I've learned is not going to be wasted and will come into use"
Fear "What if I fail?" And, at times you might feel that you have! There have been so many times where I've thrown up my hands and say "I give up!" - in fact, I still have days where this happens - but these are the moments where you're faced with the option to go back, or rise up. Failure is not the end road. It is the point where you get to look back and ask, what could I have done differently, what did I learn? And then to apply those learnings and ideas to your next step. Solution "Every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow"
Fear "My family won't support me" It was the hardest conversation I ever had to have with my parents "I'm quitting medicine and I'm going to teach yoga full-time, and there's no changing my mind" - the look on their faces, the disappointment in their voices, it was heart breaking. My friends and family couldn't understand, and honestly most have admitted to thinking I would fail and have to backtrack. But here's what made it succeed. I had a plan: I would give myself 1 year's time to try it out, and if I really couldn't, I would fallback to science. When I presented this plan, they all said "OK, 1 year." 1 year later, it wasn't a raging success, but there was success and there were 1000x new ideas to put into action. I decided to put those ideas into action, and that's where it started to grow (and I proved everyone wrong 😆 and boy did that feel good 😂. For the first time in my career March 2020, I heard my dad say "I'm proud of you") Solution "I know my plan and I will prove them wrong"
Fear “Equipment is expensive" Equipment can get expensive, BUT you don't need to hit the runway fancy. I started with nothing but my iPhone and laptop. As I grew, so did my budget for equipment. But don't get caught up in everything you have to have right now, focus on the steps in front of you (read: Solve each short-term goal with actual steps) Solution "I can do/create plenty with what I have NOW, the rest will come"
Fear “How do I sustain myself financially?” – aka Money! Probably the most common and very real fear. There’s no easy answer for this one and it differs depending on your own situation (i.e. if you have a family, single-parenting, financial loans, etc.) - if there aren’t enough savings for you to step out to support AND invest in yourself for 1 year, then it's probably not feasible to just leave your 2 weeks notice and step out. But that shouldn't stop you from working towards your dreams and passions. Perhaps it's double-timing or triple-timing it for a bit (which is what I did) until you have enough savings to fully dive into what you love. But in the meantime, there's plenty of what you can do to still work in the direction of your dreams - read on: the 1 year plan Solution "I will save up for my 1 year plan and in the meantime take action NOW to monetize my passions on the side"
MAKE A 1 YEAR PLAN - YOUR VISION ROADMAP
Having a 1 year plan, helps solidify exactly what your steps are for the next plan. All businesses have a plan - whether its a sales plan, marketing campaign, financial plan. What's your plan? If this is something that feels foggy or fuzzy, you're not ready to embark on an entrepreneurial journey. So let's talk about what goes into your plan:
What's your FOUNDATIONAL Goal / mission statement? The first part of your 1 year plan is to get really clear on your goals - and I don’t just mean “make $x per month/year" or “teach internationally”. What is it at the very core of what you want to do? For me, I simply wanted to help people live and feel better. To this day, this is still the core of all my goals. Once you're clear on exactly what your mission is, your vision will be revealed
Set your 1, 5, 10 Year Goals Ask and write what you want to create in 1 year, 5 years, and 10 years. GO BIG! This can be a rough write-up, and know that this might change as you grow! Example "my one year goal is to become a world-renown yoga teacher"
List out short-term goals for your 1 year goal These are attainable goals to hit during your 1 year goal. Aim for 4 goals (one for each 3 months) Example: My 1 year goal is to become a world-renown yoga teacher, then I need to: - build an online presence/website/resume - network and connect with as many international opportunities as possible - teach internationally/locally as much as possible - learn from other world-renown teachers
Solve each short-term goal with actual steps Write out steps you can take for each short-term goal (these become your immediate goals) Aim for 3 immediate goals per short-term goal (1/month) Example: Build an online presence/website/resume: - Create a website and social media accounts - Research + network + engage with accounts that are role models - Create content unique to my expertise/journey Network and connect with as many international opportunities as possible - Research international opportunities (google/read other peoples' stories) - Travel and visit international/out-of-state studios (read more on investing) - Put myself out there to as many studios as possible Etc.
Plan To Invest You know that saying you have to be willing to put in money to earn money? I found it to be true, and it's served me well. The fear of scarcity (not having enough) will keep you in a place of not having enough. Learning to mind shift into a space of abundance will abundantly return 2x if not more what you put in. Make sure you have enough saved up for your 1 year plan to invest in your dreams (make wise investments and you'll find value out of every penny spent) Example: my first year investments included travel and trainings. Every travel trip I took, I sought out yoga studios/event/workshops etc. and made sure to network with the studio owners/event curators. Every training I took, I learned how to better my teaching, and pulled ideas on how I would want to run a training one day. After the first trip and training, I was already being offered international teaching opportunities and running my own trainings. The first international opportunity wasn't highly paid, but guess what? It built my resume and reputation and the following opportunities I was making 2x what I had invested into the original travel trip.
Learn From the Experts This goes under investing your time, energy, and money. Back in my pre-med days, I worked under doctors/surgeons/admin/PhDs. It was how I knew medicine wasn’t for me. When I made the transition, I joined groups, trainings, programs, retreats, classes, etc. If there’s a teacher you admire and want to do what they do, shadow them, attend their classes/events - see them in action and learn from them. Save yourself time and energy, seek out experts, invest in what courses they offer and learn from them! If you're not willing to invest in yourself, why would anyone else be willing to invest in you?
Should I work for free? As you throw your name out there, you will get a host of opportunities where people ask you to work for free. Know your worth! Your time and knowledge are valuable. And I believe if you're going to work, you should always be compensated in some form or another. In the beginning, this compensation might be less than what you hope, sometimes it might be an exchange. If its an exchange, weigh out what you receive for how much energy you spend - is it exposure? product? growth? And assess for how long you're willing to barter! Once you have 1-2 events that are unique under your belt, it's time to up your rates and up your price. If you have 0 experience, then yes, perhaps you work on a bartered exchange deal. But after the 1st time, you've gained enough experience to charge.
It's not an easy journey…that's why it's called chasing your dreams, but it's beyond rewarding. It's creating your legacy. It's telling your story. And for all of you out there thinking about pursuing your dreams, I encourage you to do it! Put in the work, because if you love it, it will be worth it.