There are so many fabulous things about owning and operating a Bar Method studio. At the top of the list is the community of women (and men also) who make up my “professional family.” I’m talking about the other studio owners in our incredible franchise. I truly feel grateful to be surrounded and supported by all these amazing people. I can honestly say I genuinely respect each and every one of the studio owners in my network and truly get excited to “talk shop” with them on the daily. Our franchise is made up of mostly women who left lucrative careers in finance, sales, law, and HR to embark on a career that came with much greater risk and even more reward. The Bar Method Madison, NJ owner left a 14-year career with top consulting firm Deloitte to open her studio. Her story is mentioned in this article along with other similar stories from barre studio owners who made the leap into entrepreneurship.
Before I decided to jump in head first with my eyes half open, I was making a six-figure salary in pharmaceutical sales, driving a company car, working a flexible schedule and attending happy hours with my girlfriends in San Francisco every Friday. From the outside, most people would think I had it made and was “living the dream.” Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely enjoying myself and living a good life, but something was missing. For example, when my boss called my heart rate would speed up, “what does he want now?” or when my counterpart wanted to meet, I felt put out and would’ve rather been at dinner with friends or… you guessed it, a Bar Method class. Rarely did I connect with the doctors I was selling to and often times I felt like I was just going through the motions to make my paycheck. I was unfulfilled.
Running a business is no joke. It’s a lot of work and there are definitely days I question it and think I’m just trading one type of stress (the corporate world) for another type of stress (running my own show). But then, almost immediately I’m brought back to the reality that I have it pretty damn good and it’s a real gift to have found my passion, and for that passion to be something that positively affects other people’s lives. “Passion” has always been a sticky word for me and it really wasn’t until finding Bar Method that I finally realized the true meaning of that word. I consider myself one of the lucky ones and don’t really know what I’m talking about when I suggest “ways to help you find your passion” to other people…Yet here I am doing it anyway! After reading several articles on the subject, I compiled a list of the Top 8 Ways to Uncover Your Passion that proved to be relevant for me.
1. Rediscover what you loved to do as a kid
I loved to dance as a kid! I don’t remember a time growing up I wasn’t enrolled in a dance class (thank you mom & dad). I enjoyed it and I was good at it! Although the bar method is not a dance class it most definitely reenergized my love for dance and allowed me to express that passion of mine in a different way. Revisit some of the positive activities, foods and events of your childhood. Ask yourself how that can be translated into your life now? How can those past experiences shape your career choices now?
2. Study people who are doing what you want to do
I worked as a bar method instructor for 3 years before I opened the doors to my own studio. I worked along side the owners to manage the operations of the business, taught several classes per week, filled in whenever it was needed and fully immersed myself into the community. I learned so much about the business and community from those initial 3 years as an instructor that I know without a doubt helped me make the decision to do it on my own. Surround yourself with people doing what you want to do. Ask questions, volunteer to help, work with them and for them. Immerse yourself in their world to learn from their mistakes and successes.
3. Get started doing what you love
If I wasn’t at home I was at the studio teaching classes or taking classes. I quickly realized I loved teaching and really enjoyed helping new teachers develop their skills. Before too long I stepped into a teacher mentor role, and from that experience I developed an understanding of what it takes to train, mentor, and coach a bar method staff. You have to get started and keep going to uncover your strength, weaknesses and to test what it might be like to work in the area you’re passionate about. Think of it as your “research phase,” an opportunity to determine if it’s just a hobby or a potentially profitable business.
4. Always stay true to yourself
In the beginning, I admit I wasn’t totally comfortable in my new role as “studio owner.” I was so worried about what others thought about me, my management style, my business acumen, etc. I was so busy managing everyone else’s perceived expectations that I lost sight of myself. It wasn’t until I finally had the courage to let that go that I really started to understand the depth of my passion and realize the real reward of doing what I love. Staying true to yourself is always a good idea not only in business but in everything you do!
5. Forget about the money
Being “in it for the money” is never a good idea. Sure you need to make a living if you’re going to pursue your passion full-time, however forget about that component while you’re in discovery mode. Stick with investigating what you love, what you’re good at, what challenges you embrace and the fears you have. Once you discover your passion and commit to it full-time (if that’s your goal) then the money will come. Furthermore, when the going gets tough and the money isn’t flowing in as readily as you’d like, it’s your relentless passion that will pull you through and help you get back on track. Money is great but it certainly doesn’t buy you happiness. I know I speak for most of the studio owners in my network, that had we been motivated by the money none of us would be in this business today.
6. Cultivate belief
One year into opening my studio, my business partner asked to be bought out. At first I was devastated. That wasn’t “the plan.” But then, I realized my success in continuing on my own depended upon the belief in myself. Despite what others may have thought or the self-inflicting doubts I had, I knew I could do it and that’s what pressed me to move forward with the buy out. If you don’t believe in yourself than noone else will. Practice self-love, build yourself up in the morning as you’re getting ready. Remind yourself you’re capable and embrace the fear. Everyone pursuing their passion has equal parts fear and confidence …they’ve just figured out how to swing the pendulum in favor of confidence more often than not.
7. Understand that it’s a process
I’ve always held the belief that discovering your passion is a process. People change, life happens, passions evolve. Had I not walked into The Bar Method Marina studio in San Francisco that day to try a class my life would’ve turned out differently, however, I still believe I would’ve figured out my passion because I’m open to the process. I’m still open to it. I have more to offer this world and several ideas brewing that have developed and continue to evolve. I always tell my friends who are still searching to be open minded to change and perceptive along the path. It’s like dating…you never know when you’re going to meet someone! BTW, If I had a dime for every time I heard that piece of advice I would be so rich I wouldn’t care about dating anyone! 😉
8. Remind yourself what you’re grateful for
Everyday can either be a struggle or a gift…it depends on your outlook. The reality is you can find both in everything and in every day. It’s okay to acknowledge your struggles however it’s oh so important to remind yourself of what you’re grateful for! I have a gratitude journal next to my bed that I try to fill out at least a few times a week. Even the simple, sometimes overlooked things are smart to acknowledge and take note of. When I do, I notice my attitude shifts almost immediately. It keeps things in perspective especially when it feels like the struggles outweigh the successes.