Worth the Risk: Tips for Quitting Your Job & Becoming an Entrepreneur
Contributor Jennie Miremadi, MS, CNS, LDN is an integrative clinical nutritionist and wellness coach based in Los Angeles. Jennie's mission is to show her clients that they can achieve their nutrition, health, and wellness goals by nourishing their bodies in a healthy way. Most people are surprised to learn I wasn’t always a nutritionist. I actually practiced law for many years before making the switch. Although I had a good job and was happy with my salary, my job didn’t inspire me. I knew that there had to be something more that I could contribute to the world. It was overcoming my own personal battles with food that helped me realize my life’s true calling: to become a nutritionist and help others find their own healthy relationship with food.
Once I had this epiphany, the idea of walking away from my job to help others was all I could think about. It was exciting and inspiring, but the reality of what it meant for my life was also overwhelming and, frankly, terrifying. I’d spent three years in law school, endured the stress of taking the California Bar Exam, and then years learning my legal specialty, only to throw it all away and start over from scratch doing something which, at that point, I had no experience doing. It was such a huge risk, and I had no idea what the outcome would be. But I knew that if I didn’t summon the courage to leave, I would never feel truly fulfilled with my life, and I would always regret what might have been.
Now, I'm not going to lie. Leaving my job was the scariest thing I've ever done. I had to figure out the logistics of running my own business and maintain faith that it would all work out. But those challenges pushed me to grow in ways I never could have imagined. Yes, I made a ton of personal sacrifices, but doing so only made me realize what was important to me.
Bottom line: In the end, no matter how scary, hard, or trying it has been, I would, without question, do it all over again. Why? Because instead of dreading going to work each day, I wake up totally in love with what I do. I feel excited, inspired and grateful. And, more than anything, I feel a sense of purpose I didn’t have when I was practicing law. Undoubtedly, leaving my job to create a more meaningful life is the best decision I’ve ever made.
If you're considering leaving your corporate job to pursue your dreams, let me tell you: it likely won’t be easy. But it will be worth it. Here are some things that I’ve learned on my path that I hope will help you on yours:
Photo by Ryan Strongin
Own Your Decision
When I decided to transition from law to nutrition, most of the people in my life were encouraging, supportive and excited for me. But not everyone. Some gave me strange looks when I told them what I planned to do. Others were less subtle, telling me, “This is a really bad idea–what if you fail?” "WHY would you do that?" and, my personal favorite: "You're going to keep your law license, right?" I laugh about it now, but at the time I was really hurt. Ultimately though, I realized that the only person that needed to be okay with my choice was me. I had to stop looking to others to validate my decision and just follow my heart.
Not everyone is going to agree with your choice to leave your job. They may be too scared to ever do what you’re attempting to do, and they may be projecting their own fears onto you. Don’t let it deter you. Tune it out, and focus on the life you want to create for yourself and what you need to do to get there.
If you compare yourself to the person who has been doing your dream job for the last 20 years, you’re going to feel totally overwhelmed and wonder how you’ll ever succeed. Remember, everyone you admire had to start somewhere, and they definitely didn’t start out where they are now. Let them be an inspiration for what’s possible, but don’t let what they’ve accomplished paralyze you from taking action toward reaching your own dream.
Small Steps Add Up to Big Accomplishments
I often tell my clients that lots of little steps can add up to big achievements. I believe this is true with anything we do in life. Breaking things down into bite-sized pieces is much more manageable than taking on a massive goal all at once. Look at where you want to be a year from now and map out daily, weekly and monthly tasks that will enable you to get there.
Photo by Melina Mellor
Moonlight Until You Can’t
The more you can do to build your business while you’re still in your old steady job, the better. I completed two nutrition coaching certifications, saw clients on the side, and nearly completed my Master’s degree in nutrition, all while working as a lawyer. In addition, I also built my website, wrote blog posts, and began a wellness-inspired Instagram account. I couldn't launch a website or market myself publicly as a nutritionist until I left my job. That was when I knew it was time to leave. You don't have to quit your job right away to start pursuing your dream career. Do as much as you can before you actually quit your current job, so you have income to fund your venture and it feels less scary when you do make the leap.
Remember Why You Started & Embrace What You Love
After I left my law job, every time things got tough, I brought myself back to the reasons why I started and reminded myself that my new career fulfilled me in a way that my old one never could. This pushed me to keep going even when I felt like giving up.
Before you leave your job, think about why you want to become an entrepreneur. Do you have a creative gift that you want to share? Does your passion light you up in a way that nothing else can? Do you feel inspired to use your business to help others? Figure out why you are meant to become an entrepreneur and remind yourself of this reason often.
Expect the Unexpected
Things are not always going to go the way you think. There will be hardships that you couldn’t have predicted, and you’ll have to learn new skills that might push you outside your comfort zone. Don’t confuse these growing pains with failure. You may have to shift course, adapt, learn more, or do things that scare you, but it’s all part of the growing process and it will make you stronger, better and ultimately more successful.
Trust and Let Go
So much of what happens with your business is outside of your control. All you can do is come from a place of authenticity, believe in yourself, and do everything in your power to make your business succeed. Then, you have to let go and trust everything will fall into place the way it’s meant to.
Featured photo by Valorie Darling