TODAY I TURN 31. I have my health, an adventurous spirit and 1 grey hair, which I think is a good sign – young enough to cultivate wild dreams, and wise enough to know waiting won’t manifest them into reality.
So much has changed this past year. Besides living in a different country, the changes are subtler.
Last year I wrote a post titled, “Freedom from Age”. I was turning 30 and reflecting on the significance of age.
In the post I spoke about my struggles with detaching from social expectations and the desires for a car, house, ring, and 6-figure salary. I wanted stability and security, but I felt behind.
I was 30 years old and just starting my career as a Naturopathic doctor, which I now realize is not as lucrative or secure as I once thought. (What you ought to know about Naturopathic medicine– click here to read more)
I’m not going to lie and pretend that I am above wanting material goods and societal acceptance. I’m sure that at some point in my life I will have all those things that I think I want.
However, living in Thailand and here in Uruguay, I begin to appreciate certain necessities of life (ie. water, vegetables, language) and put less emphasis on luxuries (ie. being clean, toilet paper, coffee).
Living in a remote beach town where I need to walk 2 km to get a bottle of water and eggs allows me to value the food I eat.
When luxuries include meat, ice cream and hand-made hemp bracelets, the fancy cars and jewelry don’t even cross my mind.
In Uruguay, the majority of people only speak Spanish and unfortunately, I don’t (although I’m learning). When the only English I hear, for months on end, is from the person I’m living with, I start to crave community. I realize how incredible it is to be able to read a menu and get exactly what I ordered. No surprises.
I was recently on the Undeniable Clarity podcast with Colin Pal where he asked, “If you had unlimited wealth and time, what would you be doing?”
I paused and thought about it. Nothing that I wasn’t already doing came to mind.
I would absolutely be:
- Traveling and exploring remote tropical locations
- Working on projects that inspire me
- Reaching a much greater audience online than if I was in a local clinic seeing one patient at a time
- Living with my business and life partner, Jon Goodman
- Being head-over-heals in love and living one honeymoon to the next
- Having amazing online friends who come to live with us for months at a time
- Taking mini-vacations everyday to the beach
- Having time to meditate, exercise, cook healthy meals and explore nature each day
- Waking up to a spectacular beach sunrise
- Falling asleep under a sea of stars and the sound of waves crashing
It’s not that I don’t want other things in life: a home address, to be with my family and have children, but those things can wait. In this moment I have exactly what I want and need.
And I’m not saying this to boast. This is my reality. But even when I was living in paradise this time last year, I was missing something. My answer to Colin’s question a year ago would have been completely different.
A year ago I was at loose ends. I was a single traveller getting it “out of my system”. Thailand was supposed to be my BIG TRIP. I would backpack on my own for 9 months and come back a completely different person. I would be ready to tackle working in a clinic as a Naturopathic doctor (ND) and I would be one of the few successful NDs to make it. (Extinction of the Naturopathic doctor – click here to read more)
But then Jon and I got back together and he started traveling with me.
It wasn’t the big solo trip I had intended. At first I had my doubts (Jon is a bit of a princess when it comes to living conditions, but to be fair, he’s had his fair share of hostel life and can now afford comfort).
Needless to say, he spoiled me and I liked it.
I thought living in a cave bordering the jungle and beach with limited electricity, unreliable running water and no doors or windows was going to be an adventure. I even convinced myself that it was something I could do for the next few years.
But after getting parasites twice, a fungal skin infection from the damp mattress I was sleeping on and being constantly surrounded by bugs and animals with only a mosquito net to protect me, I had enough.
Jon was working online and was able to afford “luxury” (ie. spending $60 a night for an air-conditioned, clean, private room with breakfast, hot showers and a beautiful swimming pool). He was working his butt off and I felt lost.
I felt at odds because I desperately wanted something to dive into whole-heartedly. I wanted to be told to “stop working and go to bed” because I was so excited about what I was doing. I wanted to impact a greater purpose.
I was missing passion. My childhood gymnastic’s coach, Carol Angela-Orchard, always spoke about having passion in life and passion for excellence. Her words constantly remind me to follow my dreams no matter if they don’t align with social or personal expectations.
I thought going home to work in a clinic would be the answer to my search for passion. For some it is. For most, clinic is where they love to be. But unfortunately, as many NDs soon realize, passion doesn’t pay the bills (and neither does hard work for that matter).
It’s a sad, sad thing to see your colleagues taking part-time jobs at restaurants or going back to school or changing careers completely to pursue a more financially stable job.
Did you know that the average ND makes $40,000 a year for their first 4 years out of practice? And that doesn’t even touch the $200,000 + student debt acquired from medical school or personal taxes. At these odds, Naturopathic doctors may soon become extinct (click here to see the stats).
Every time I see these statistics, it breaks my heart. But it did get me to seriously re-evaluate what I wanted for my career and the greater healthcare system.
Naturopathic doctors are so fundamental in supporting preventative health, chronic disease and optimal living. With the disastrous obesity epidemic and rise in metabolic syndrome, diabetes, ADHD, and infertility diagnoses, NDs are necessary now more than ever. With the experience I’ve had seeing patients, I know how much good we do and how much we are needed.
I started to get inspired.
I started to see where I could implement my skills and help more people. I would take on a 3-fold project of passion:
- Create health-related materials that are available to the public-at-large, to reach more than one patient at a time and farther than a single clinic, or even North America.
- Support other Naturopathic doctors to become financially successful and continue to do what they love and are passionate about.
- Bring more awareness of the importance of Naturopathic medicine to the public and improve the reputation of our profession.
Jon helped to “Ignite the Fire” that lead me to this vision (he’s an amazing writer and my biggest cheerleader).
But it didn’t happen over night. There were many periods of doubt, moments of fear, and times of indecisiveness. I was lucky to have the time and opportunity to come to this life decision organically. I had very patient parents and a partner who stood by me every step of the way – all 6 months of self-doubt and procrastination.
But that’s not to mean I did nothing but relax that whole time. I was working in a small wellness center in Thailand, offering my expert skills and health advice. And I was writing, researching, and allowing myself to be creative.
I don’t believe luck finds you. I believe that opportunities present themselves when you are working smartly, searching with an open perspective, and having the flexibility to challenging your belief systems.
Through this journey, my ‘passion projects’ have developed into 2 major endeavors:
This online calendar syncs with Google Calendar and Mac iCalendar to offer anybody around the world access to affordable daily information, worksheets, resources and support. Everyday members receive a short tip about exercise, nutrition, gratitude, sleep, common health conditions, social support or hypo-allergenic recipes.
Each tip has a blog post that gives them more information if interested, which keeps me very busy researching and writing. This has been the most effective way to keep me motivated and on task for putting out great information. I can’t wait till next year when I put out the physical DAILY DOSE PLANNER and customize them for my patients and other practitioners.
TheNDDC is a collaborative blog dedicated to improving the success of Naturopathic doctors and the industry at large. It is a project that was inspired by Jon’s site on how to become a personal trainer, thePTDC.
Personal trainers suffer from similar difficulties as Naturopathic doctors. We are both in the service-based industry, using preventative health care to educate and build strong relationships with our clients typically on a one-on-one basis. We are often seen as a luxury, rather than a necessity despite the rise of obesity-related conditions. Although our education varies, the business and marketing aspects are lacking on a whole for both professions.
Naturopathic doctors are exceptionally trained at getting people living healthier and feeling better, we now need to know how to get our patients in the door. TheNDDC was developed to give actionable and practical tips to:
- Help NDs learn how to create passive income streams that will last a lifetime.
- Teach NDs how to effectively turn inquiries into leads and more importantly– devoted patients.
- Provide NDs with time management skills so they can make more money while they work, and have more time for family, travel, or a hobby.
- Show NDs how to deal with every type of patient (no matter how difficult)
- Help NDs generate long-term wealth in the health industry.
- Teach NDs how to harness the power of the Internet to grow their business.
- Provide NDs with lots of proven systems and tips on how to get more patients and do a better job with the ones that they currently have.
- Develop ways to generate income when they’re not working so NDs can have more time off, take a holiday, or start a family worry-free.
- And improve the recognition and perception of Naturopathic doctors around the world.
This is Jon and my current baby and we are so proud of this site. We hope to inspire many others to support the preventative medicine and ND movement to enrich the lives of people globally.
So how did I get here, when only a year ago I was at loose ends?
I look back today and have no idea. There was no one defining moment that made me realize building these online projects would fuel such a powerful force inside of me. It was more about intention, flexibility, and exploring every option to it’s full potential before moving on.
I’ve taken on countless projects, topics ranging from geriatric care to fibromyalgia, bioenergetics medicine to iridology, and cosmetic and spa treatments to detox program design. I’ve also started ventures outside of medicine, like an online bartering platform for service-based industries or creating a coffee product.
I’ve started things that just ended without anything to show for it, while others I’ve passed on to other practitioners, and some I may revisit in the future.
The following 6 steps allowed me to take the time I needed to find my passion and develop the projects that really excited me:
- Have an open mind.
We have been programmed since we were in the womb to think a certain way. It’s a form of brainwashing when you can’t see any other way than that which society dictates for you. I was there. I’m still there from time to time.
Most people think school is the most important way to develop the mind and to get a good job. So they put themselves into debt to be able to work it off for the next 10 years. Then they get a promotion or move into the next tax bracket and relocate into a nicer neighborhood where they need to upgrade their car to keep up with the neighbors. They decide that 2 weeks out of the year and most weekends in the Summer is adequate time to travel, or maybe they’ll buy a cottage. Their financial adviser says the mortgage is manageable. And so they reserve their dreams of traveling the world and having the freedom to pick-up the hobby they are most passionate about for when they retire in 40 years.
Does this sound pretty typical and not so bad?
If you are telling this to yourself I’m sorry to say that you too are trapped. Allowing yourself to be open to choosing your passion can set you free. Allowing yourself to explore other options can liberate your dreams into fruition. But it takes courage and 5 more steps.
- Take the time to figure it out.
Time. No one seems to have enough time. Or money.
Time is a big factor for those who go to school until their early 30’s and rack up a huge debt, forcing them to take the first decent job that comes their way. Trapped.
Even if you feel you need to take a job right out of school, save some time and energy to figure what you want. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck. Traveling can be a great (and affordable) way to explore yourself and see what else is possible, but I’m not talking about an all-inclusive week in Cancun. Depending on where you go, you can make your money stretch much farther. I lived in Thailand on $10 a day, including food, living and local transportation.
- Keep a notebook with you and practice writing down your ideas.
Get in the habit of writing down 10 ideas a day to pique your creative juices. Most will be awful. Pick an idea (the one that speaks loudest to you and has you dreaming up endless possibilities) and follow through to its full potential.
Jon and I love to take long walks to get our ideas flowing. We say any ridiculous thing that comes to mind and explore all possibilities. Often these are walks to the grocery store or subway.
- Read and attend events outside of your industry.
Immerse yourself in marketing, business-related materials, psychological, behavioral economics, and entrepreneurial events. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals to support your growth. Because of Jon, I’ve attended several entrepreneurial events and have started reading his most influential books:
- Thinking, Fast and Slow –Daniel Kahnamen
- Stumbling on Happiness –Dan Gilbert
- Linchpin –Seth Godin
- Tipping Point –Malcolm Gladwell
- 48 Laws of Power –Robert Greene
- On Writing Well –William Zinsser
- The Wiki Man –Rory Sutherland
- How to Win Friends & Influence People –Dale Carnegie
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing –Al Ries and Jack Trout
- The Ultimate Sales Machine –Chet Holmes
- The Art of Choosing –Sheena Iyengar
- Predictably Irrational –Dan Ariely
- Be willing to try hard and fail hard.
This one is tough for most of us. School has trained us on figuring out ways not to fail or make ourselves vulnerable. I was a competitive gymnast and would train 30+ hours a week to perfect my routines. I’d put in years of hard work and dedication so that I could come as close to a perfect score out of 10 on competition day. Imagine that.
It’s hard to break free of the mentality that failure is bad.
“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash
- Build a community and have someone on your team.
Jon has been my #1 supporter and has influenced me to lead this life of passion and freedom. But there have been so many others intimate conversations with friends, family, and colleagues (ie. Destiny, Sandy, Cindy, Geoff, ect.) who are willing to take this journey together.
I’ve had great success attending personal growth courses, like Landmark, where a community holds you accountable to create projects that inspire you and have you setting and completing goals on a regular basis.
If you don’t have someone to support your dreams, I’d also recommend attending entrepreneurial events and putting yourself out there to meet awe-inspiring people taking on mind-blowing initiatives and projects. The world is so big out there.
A lot can change in a year. If you are feeling “behind in life” or as if you don’t fit into the cookie-cutter idea of happiness and success, don’t worry. I was there too.
Don’t let those doubts stop you from finding your own adventures and passions in life. Don’t feel you need to conform.
Greatness comes from challenging your boundaries and wisdom is realizing the impermanence of it all.