By: Natasha Uspensky, CHHC
This has been a month of reflection — on my life, my intentions, my mission, and my future. Some huge changes have been happening… getting pregnant, moving cross-country to Southern California.
And all of it has gotten me thinking about the choices I’ve made along the way that have led me here: with a dream business that allows me to help hundreds of women to love themselves and their bodies, and live a vibrant, healthy life; and a flexible schedule with plenty of time for my own self-care, fun, and travel.
The name of the game has really come down to one word: clarity.
When I first thought about leaving the performance world, I got super clear on what frustrated me most about that lifestyle: being poor, relying on my parents for financial support, needing to cater, wait tables, or babysit as a “day job” (which at times could feel so demeaning and uninspiring), constantly being subject to the criticism and scrutiny of the people I was auditioning for, and above all, feeling powerless. My future felt totally in the hands of others. This was my specific set of circumstances, but I know a lot of you can relate to feeling underpaid, undervalued, and uninspired.
In creating my vision for a whole new career path, I got clear on what I did want: financial freedom, independence, creating my own hours, time for creativity, the ability to make a real difference in the world, and above all, the power and agency to be in control of my own success — to work as much or as little as I wanted, and make as much or as little money as I needed to.
I mined my interests and passions, all of which invariably led me to the same place: holistic health, wellness, and counseling. I enrolled in nutrition school, quit my babysitting day job, and while going through the program worked full-time in the admissions department of my school. I launched NU Health & Wellness while I was still in school, and saw my first client 6 months into the program (I think I charged $50 an hour that first time!). After 9 months, I had saved up enough to sustain myself and my new business for 6 months. I quit my day job, secured a beautiful office space in Soho, NYC, and was off and running.
In the beginning, I saw clients at all hours, and I felt like I couldn’t turn anyone away. It was a new business and I felt the pressure to grow grow grow. In just a matter of months, I was frazzled and stressed out. I wasn’t sleeping well, and I had this constant nagging feeling that I was forgetting something huge — all the time.
As I had before, I returned to my sense of clarity. This was not what I had signed up for. This was not the plan.
I got clear on the hours I wanted to work and the schedule I wanted to have. I got organized. I stopped seeing late evening clients, and let go of my fear that people wouldn’t work with me if I didn’t bend over backwards to accommodate them. I set a limit to how many clients I would take on at a time, and I started creating space in my day for other things I wanted to be doing — like yoga classes, self-care, and long lunches with friends. Things were definitely feeling better.
About two years into my business, I had a steady stream of about 17-20 clients at a time, and had really developed a unique style of coaching, and philosophy of healthy eating and wellness entirely my own. I saw my clients’ lives change before my eyes… it was truly the most fulfilled I had ever felt professionally. The Organic Beauty was really growing into the healthy living destination I had envisioned it to be, and I got great feedback from thousands of readers.
And yet, again, something didn’t quite connect. I found myself feeling a little less than excited on my busy work days, I felt tied to my office and my practice, and was always overcome with guilt when I left my clients for a week or two to go on vacation. I wasn’t inspired to write as much as I wanted to, and felt like I just didn’t have the time or headspace to dedicate to the more creative aspects of my business. I had so much to share, and knew that I just couldn’t take on more private clients to share my teachings with, while maintaining the life I wanted.
A part of me felt like a fraud — here I was, teaching my clients to visualize and create their ideal lives and jobs, while I myself felt less than in-love with my work.
I knew that, yet again, it was back to the drawing board. This time, my clarity came with a touch of guilt. I realized that my path would not include a huge private practice that I had been working towards. It wouldn’t include in-person sessions in a posh, high-profile Soho office. I had to rethink my entire business model.
Who was I to ask for more? Was I being ungrateful and chronically dissatisfied with my level of success?
I struggled with this a lot. Who was I to ask for more? I had built a thriving business in just a couple of years… was I being ungrateful and chronically dissatisfied with my level of success?
No. I was merely honoring my dream and my vision. I was refusing to settle for anything less than exactly what I wanted. And that is nothing to be ashamed of.
It was then that I created Greens. Grains. Gorgeous., a beautiful, comprehensive online program that took all the most effective teachings, tools, and practices that I shared with my private clients over the course of their 6-month programs, and condensed them into a 12-week, group format. I jam-packed the program with customizations and extra content — many of which were things I wish I had time to get into with my private clients, but our 45-minute sessions just didn’t allow for. I created the program I myself would want to take, a program I wish I had found when I was a busy, tired, sick, self-criticizing and insecure struggling to make it in the big city.
I knew that Greens. Grains. Gorgeous. would not only allow me to reach so many more women than I could possibly work with privately, but it would also afford me the flexibility to live exactly the life I want, which is such a huge theme of the program and all of my teachings. This was my path to not only getting this message out to the world, but actually living it myself, every single day.
To make room for the program, I gradually moved my entire practice to Skype, slashed my number of private clients in half (which allowed me to only work privately with the women I knew I could help most), and hired another awesome counselor to take on some of the overflow.
I poured all of myself into the program, and relished all the creative aspects I could now spend so much time on. I knew it couldn’t just be content-rich, it had to be a visually cohesive and luxurious experience. I got to pick the content that I knew my clients loved most — tons of time on intuitive healthy eating, overcoming cravings, and enjoyable movement, but also a huge theme of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-care throughout. We could dig deeper into creating amazingly fulfilling relationships, mindfulness, and of course, making our careers exactly what we want them to be. I got to create a program about living the life you want, not just eating more kale and doing more yoga. It was such a labor of love.
As the enrollment period for the spring session comes to a close this week, I feel overcome with gratitude — towards this amazingly supportive community and the phenomenal women who I get to work with, and also towards myself, for returning to clarity over and over again as my business grew and evolved to become the best version of itself.
We spend so much time suffering through our lives and our work, telling ourselves that we’re “paying our dues” or that it will eventually get better. In the meantime, we feel like mere shells of the people we want to be. It takes courage to stand up and say no more. To say “I deserve better than this.” And to start taking steps towards what you really want. I see my beautiful clients doing this every day — they’re quitting jobs they hate, getting promotions, starting their own dream businesses. It is such an honor to be a part of their transformation, and to share a bit of mine with you. It’s time to take a stand for what you want… you won’t regret it. I know I haven’t!
Need some support in creating your dream life, health, and career?Enrollment for Greens. Grains. Gorgeous. ends this Friday!>> Click here for all the program details and how to enroll <<