Danielle trained to be a registered dietitian, and worked as a dietitian for seven years. Although she was doing what she went to school to do, very little about the job was satisfying. “I’m a people person,” Danielle says, “and it was good to meet people and help them on their journey, but the lack of compliance made me crazy.”
She faced an uphill battle trying to help clients change dysfunctional food habits, self-destructive behaviors, and deeply-rooted emotions. Long-term successes were few and far between. “There was a lot negative energy,” Danielle recalls. The last straw was when she was sexually assaulted and faced her own emotional struggle and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from the assault. Fortunately, Danielle had a good support network, so she didn’t have to deal with the situation alone.
As she considered leaving her role as a nutritionist, Danielle researched her options. “Emotional health was my number one priority, along with a job that created positive energy,” she says. “For me, that was all part of being happy.” Danielle also reassessed why she went into being a nutritionist, and what she wanted out of her reinvention.
“In my first career, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. My parents led me in that direction as a safe choice,” Danielle says.
Her husband suggested looking at becoming a massage therapist, because he said she was good at giving amateur massages to family and friends. Danielle enrolled in a part-time program at the North Carolina School of Massage and loved it. Her old job gave her plenty of experience interacting with people. Massage requires a high degree of personal interaction and communication, and it’s hands-on, requiring good rapport with clients.
“Massage is a positive profession, because people smile when they’re finished with a massage. I could provide immediate gratification to my clients, and making them feel better gratified me,” she says.
Unfortunately, one teacher left mid-way through the program. Danielle didn’t like the replacement teacher as much, but she stuck with it, and her clinical practice providing public massages went very well. She interned with the teacher who had left the school, and planned to work at the same massage practice after she graduated, but then the owner of the shop moved and offered to sell it to her.
Danielle bought the practice out of her savings and plunged into learning the business end. The old owner had been losing money. Danielle only needed six months to turn a profit and take a paycheck. “It took three years, but I’ve surpassed my old income,” Danielle says. She kept the name of the practice (“Serenity Now”) and differentiated herself by positioning the studio as the premier provider of therapeutic massage, as opposed to sheer relaxation. “I put a lot of thought into appealing to my local audience. I made sure I knew the demographics,” she adds.
What would she tell others considering making a big change? “Just do it. Jump in with both feet. You’ll surprise yourself,” Danielle says. “Find the courage to take the first step. Baby steps are okay.”
If you thrive on a certain type of work that uses your gifts and satisfies your soul, consider the options you have for how to deliver your services to fit your introvert/extrovert personality. Don’t assume that the way you’ve seen others do something is the only possibility. With today’s technology, you can be connected to the world without leaving home. At the same time, our computer addiction leaves many people hungry for personal, high-touch service that requires intensive interaction. Make your new Fresh Start Success suit you!