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Kristin Veenema was the winner of my scholarship last year, and I just super loved how she went into our coaching with one career idea in mind and emerged 12 sessions later with a 180-ish degree change that was absolutely true to her values, passions, and personal mission statement. I asked her to share her story here, as well as to be a Career Camp Counselor (early registration opened today (eek!) for those on this list). I know you’ll be inspired by her Courage.
I always liked working with career-changers in my former life as a high school English teacher. They were always so passionate about what they did, and I eventually drew the conclusion that it was because they had made such a deliberate move to transition out of their former job, went back to school, and then began anew as someone else. I still think that is true.
While I recognized at the time their passion for the job, it wasn’t until I made my own career leap that I can now appreciate how much courage those second-career-teachers had.
Courage continues to be the number one requirement for me as I navigate this new life.
There couldn’t be a more appropriate title to Michelle and Jess’s book than The Declaration of You. So much of who we are is defined by our work. No, scratch that. So much of our work is defined by who we are. Which means that, as I have discovered more and more as my career change continues to evolve, the work I am pulled to do results from a deeper and deeper look at who I really am.
Looking closely at who I really am takes courage.
Finding fulfillment and success at work is about honoring who I am rather than listening to the “messages” other people sent me while I was growing up about who or what I should be, which I so readily internalized. Successful people are academic in nature. Physical activity is important…but it’s just for fun. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise to me then that my career change to a highly physical field feels like a long time in the making. It feels different than anything I had ever thought of as “the way to be,” and it has been a continual process of accepting this passion and interest as part of who I really am.
Valuing what I find once I look at who I really am takes courage.
At Dojo Fairfield, we are students of life. How we show up on the mat and in our training is a tangible representation of how we show up in life. Ultimately, a shift in careers and the journey that accompanies it has been an opportunity to study the same. The fears that arise around it at times—the panic stricken, frozen in place, help-I-want-to-hide-in-the-corner-please-someone-save-me-I’m-not-good-enough—is a lesson to be learned about how to do life. How am I showing up in this new career? How can I learn from the challenges that I face?
And like any dose of truth, facing some of the answers to those questions takes courage.
As I told Michelle in my When I Grow Up Scholarship Application last year, “I think our first jobs really stick with us.” What I didn’t realize at the time of making that video is how much perhaps all of our jobs have the potential to stick with us. I didn’t realize a career change would mean slowly shedding the identity of who I was in my former job as well…that it would be a process, and just because I didn’t hold the same job anymore didn’t mean that I wouldn’t be the same person (at least for a while). But that’s what happens. Changing a career means providing myself a chance to become someone else.
And becoming someone else—someone who honors who she really is—takes courage.
Kristin Veenema is a former high school English teacher turned professional martial arts instructor and fitness coach who works with women to help them learn how powerful their body‑ and their life‑ really is.Meaningful Mindsets