And why you should consciously curate your Community
By Michelle Cady
It’s often been said that we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. This concept applies to everything :: what you eat, how you exercise, your tendency for optimism (or pessimism), your growth-oriented mindset (or fixed mindset), and even your core values on money, relationships, community and career.
Who are your five people?
Maybe they include your significant other, family or best friends, but I’ll also bet that your boss or closet colleague is in your inner circle, whether you like it or not.
When I realized this concept during the summer of 2013, I was working in Finance, excelling in my career in Investor Relations and extremely motivated to hit that next promotion. Then I looked around, and realized I was drinking beers on Wednesday nights with my junior analysts who were years younger than me or sipping wine and entertaining clients alongside my bosses, who were years older.
This didn’t feel like ME. After some thought (and late night pizza stops), I decided to slowly shift my focus back to what I loved doing that Fall :: running.
I joined a Thursday Morning Track Program that met at 6:30am along the East River in lower Manhattan. I made sure to pay in advance for 10 weeks to fully commit to the season. As I skipped the Wednesday night happy hours and my mile times around the track consistently dropped, I felt more and more like myself again. My high school memories of track practice came flooding back and the crisp Fall weather and time outside reminded me of my years on the Middlebury College Cross Country Team.
This is me, I thought.
But part of me still felt separate, still felt crazy to be waking up at 5:45am to bicycle in the dark to practice and run warm-ups in the early morning light of the full moon. I’d race back home on my bike after practice, jump in the shower and put on my finance suit, effectively switching back my identity to the corporate world and downplaying my love for my early morning running workouts when I spoke with colleagues at the office.
At the same time, my obsession and intrigue with nutrition and healthy eating was growing lockstep with my running stride. I’d watch every documentary I could, devoured nutrition blogs in my spare time and my bookshelf was slowly getting taken over by health books. I further fueled my passion for wellness by creating a secret Instagram account where I only followed strangers who posted about nutrition and fitness.
My world started to evolve as I consciously curated my community.
In my real, physical world, I spent time with other runners who were “crazy enough” to wake up before dawn and run. In my online, phone world, I found like-minded souls who treasured health and fitness as much as I did. Sometimes I’d find myself scrolling through Instagram at work, just to reconnect and get a spark of inspiration from my online community, and remind myself, at my core, I was more like them than my finance colleagues. (Don't get me wrong, I really liked my colleagues. They are really good people and we're still friends so if you're reading this, don't freak out!)
I didn’t realize my world was shifting because of my conscious steps to follow my passions in my spare time. After-all, I kept telling myself, they were just hobbies!
Then the bottom fell out.
On the first morning of Spring Track practice in April 2014, I was asked to attend a power breakfast meeting at a prominent Midtown location. I was crushed. I had to miss my first practice of the year! I put on my best suit and went through the motions, but internally, my frustration and feelings of injustice felt largely out of line with “just skipping one practice.” Why was I so upset? It shouldn’t seem like that big a deal, right? Right?
But I’d realized, these are not my people. I’m surrounded by five others at breakfast — senior members of the industry who have thrived for decades at their jobs — but these are not my top five.
Over the next few weeks, and a couple more mandated breakfast meetings (and skipped track practices), I decided to reach out to my secret Instagram community and meet some of my mentors in person, in real life! I met with a woman who’d graduated from Boston College, spent years in corporate advertising, then jumped to attend the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, work as a Personal Trainer at Equinox and start her own business. She’d done it, she made the jump, and she was happy. This could me me!
Long story short :: I quit Finance in June 2014, enrolled in Nutrition School, became a Personal Trainer at Equinox and now own my own Health Coaching business and am my own boss. I did it. I’m that Instagram person now that I once admired, and once envied.
It hasn’t always been easy, but it’s been worth it.
It all started by paying attention to who I was spending the most time with, what people, concepts and beliefs were permeating my brain and influencing my decisions and values.
Now I ask my health coaching clients who are optimizing their nutrition :: Who do you eat the most meals with? What are they eating? How does that impact what’s on your plate? I ask my clients who they’re envious of and why. How can you spend more time with those people in your real life? Can you ask your health nut friend to cook dinner together one night? Can you ask your fitness friend to go to meet up at a yoga class or go for a long walk and talk?
Whether it’s health or career, we’re influenced by our surroundings, we’re influenced by other people, we’re influenced by our top five.
I never tell people to jump; it’s their own decision. But you can take steps towards what you want in life, follow that curiosity and that path of inspiration, whether that’s towards healthier eating, upping your fitness game or picking up a hobby outside of work. Maybe it will become your side hustle, maybe your full time job, or maybe you’ll just be happier and more content with your full and well-lived life.
That’s why I love being part of the When to Jump Community. We’re creating a group of people that support these wild crazy ideas, in real life and online. Mentors and participants and joiners and leaders. We’re in it together and it’s the community I never had when I made my jump.
So my friend, create YOUR community, follow your threads of curiosity and let me know how it goes!
For more on Michelle’s career change and her private health coaching practice, visit www.FitVista.com and connect on Instagram at michellefitvista for inspiration on optimizing your health and stressing-less in this busy world. Michelle’s book, “Self-Care in the City : 100 Ways to Optimize Your Nutrition, Fitness and Wellness in an Urban Environment” is set to publish in March 2018.
When to Jump™ is a community dedicated to exploring the fundamental question we all think about: when is the right time to go do what you really want to be doing?