In my latest episode of Marketing & Mindset for Wellness Coaches, I will be pulling back the curtain and telling you about my own journey. This is my own story of what brought me from my career as a family doctor to being a coach.
Here are some of the things I’ll be sharing:
- the beginning of my career in medicine and when things began to shift for me
- how and why I began to burn out, and what was going on in my personal life that served as a catalyst
- the year of inner changes…followed by a whole lot of outer changes
- what I learned at each stage of evolution in my coaching career
- the one big commitment I made that massively accelerated my success
- my obsession & mission now
I received my MD in 1997. After I graduated, and did my residency in family medicine, I began working in clinical medicine. I had a good career as a family doctor … a great career, even. At least from the outside.
When things started to shift for me, big time (after about 12 years in practice)–so this is about 2011. [we bought the house in France in 2008]–for years I’d been having inklings that I was on the wrong path. I tried to ignore them. I ignored my intuition. I was a doctor. I had achieved on paper what many people wanted to achieve. What more could I want?
But the truth was, I was burned out. I was disillusioned and frustrated with the medical system.
And also, at this point I was also a mom, which means my priorities had shifted. I had a 6 yr old and a 1 yr old.
But also, I was done with the limitations of the traditional health care model, and I was burned out. I was ready for more freedom, more flexibility … and to be honest, to make a much bigger impact than I could in the 10 minute appointments that are standard in the medical profession.
I also felt like something was missing. Something more creative…more soulful … spiritual even. There was an itch that just wasn’t being satisfied by my buttoned-up, traditional career in medicine.
My bookshelves as a kid were filled with astrology, dream analysis, handwriting analysis, personality stuff, and fantasy novels. I was always a dreamer–in fact I got in trouble for this–and I was always creative. I was an artist. I loved to pain and sing, and write, and especially to perform. I was very much headed down a right-brain path and wanted to be an actress — in high school, performing was my passion and I was always in the school musical and I was in TV commercials, always going to auditions, etc, and then, I changed pathways.
I was naturally this way (spiritual and creative) but I really had it drummed out of me through my education and training.
So this part of me was really withering. I was really ignoring that side of me.
The other thing that happened, around this time, was that I had my own health crisis. I’m sure I’ll talk about this much more on future podcasts, so I won’t go into a lot of detail today, but the bottom line is that I had always been quite healthy, and suddenly, without warning, I wasn’t. And it was a huge wakeup call for me on a few levels. One, it served to highlight just how incredibly limited the conventional healthcare system was, and pushed me further into wellness sphere…but it also, on a more personal level, it helped me understand that I needed to do something about my lack of fulfillment. That we are not guaranteed any length of time on this earth, and if I wasn’t happy in my career, in my calling, in my purpose, that it was time to get off my butt and make the changes I was so desperate to make.
The Moment of Burnout
So it was kind of a perfect storm. I was professionally dissatisfied, emotionally at odds with my priorities, now that I had kids, and then also from a health perspective, I’d had this big wakeup call. And I really think I needed those three things together to shift me into action, out of the comfort of my very stable, respected career.
Trouble was, I had no idea what I was going to do, in terms of a career. I didn’t really have a plan or a direction. I just knew I needed it to be something OTHER than what I was doing.
So I started just with some exploration. I dove headlong into personal development, I really spent the next year tuning in to myself. Diving into wellness. I discovered the field of positive psychology — the study of happiness, essentially — and this was around the time of a major happiness movement, with books like The Happiness Project. And I really loved a lot of that stuff. That brought me further down the rabbit hole into more personal development. I did a lot more exploration and learning about wellness, learning from some gurus I admired, like Dr. Andrew Weil. I expanded my understanding of wellness and nutrition way beyond what we are taught in medical school. I deepened my own yoga practice. I got myself healthy again.
And then, after that year of turning inward…I began to make some outward changes. One of which was changing directions in my career.
And that’s because I discovered the world of coaching: health coaching, wellness coaching, life coaching….and I absolutely fell in love with it. It changed everything.
Discovering the world of coaching
A nurse in our clinic was building a career for herself as a health coach, and I worked together with her on various projects. It was my first introduction to the concept of wellness coaching, and the more I learned about it the more I fell in love with the model. I really felt like I could breathe for the first time.
It didn’t take me long before I realized this was exactly what I wanted to do myself. I just knew this was the direction I wanted to take my life in. So I began following my own path into coaching. I saw firsthand how beneficial a partnership between physician and health coach was for everyone involved — physician, health coach and especially the patients!
So I evolved more and more into coaching, and began building a whole new career–and life–for myself.
Now, people said I was crazy to change my career. At best, they were confused. Worst, they would say things like: “Why would you want to throw away all that education?”
And when I say people, I mean: relatives, colleagues, close friends, family. Pretty much everybody. Anybody who could see that I was trying to scale back on clinical work, trying to pivot into a new direction, and put more energy into my newfound passion, which was coaching.
In fact, to tell you the truth, I couldn’t shake the feeling that people were smirking behind my back.
But I did my best to ignore it all—the overt criticism, and the imaginary stuff that I now know was my OWN limiting beliefs…
…and I began building a new life for myself in wellness and specifically, as a wellness coach.
Truth be told, it wasn’t without a lot of bumps, false starts, obstacles, and–yes, at times–crippling self-doubt. What WAS I doing? Was this the right path? Was I insane to jump out of a PERFECTLY good airplane without a parachute?
It was definitely not a linear progression. At times I would stall, retreat back to what I knew: nice, safe–if soul-destroying–clinical medicine…until I couldn’t stand it anymore and I would try again.
I made a LOT of mistakes. I spent a lot of time dabbling, when I should have been all in.
But over the long haul, I kept trying.
And then I reached another moment of evolution.
Because what I eventually began to realize is that while I knew PLENTY about wellness…I knew very little about business and marketing.
See, the thing is, primary care doctors don’t need to promote themselves. It was never something I had to worry about. In most places I know about, there’s a shortage of physicians. We just hang a shingle, open a clinic, and we’re overrun with patients. I knew nothing about building a business, being a solopreneur, marketing myself, setting rates for my packages, having sales conversations–all of that.
I had no idea!
And I had been trying to figure it all out on my own and just kind of muddle through with some free downloads and watching some webinars and things.
I guess I figured—how hard can this be? I mean, I can deliver a baby—surely I can figure out online marketing and how to run a business. I HAD actually run a business several years prior, with my husband, when we moved to Vancouver in 2003 we opened and ran a bookstore. A brick-and-mortar business. So I figured I knew a few things about how to be an entrepreneur, a few things about the practical side of business, and the customer journey, and all those pieces.
But….some stuff had changed since those years of running the bookstore. PLUS an online service-based business is a very different thing than a brick-and-mortar product business.
So, I soon realized that I really knew very little, and if I wanted to make my coaching business a success, I was going to have to learn, and I was going to have to get some help.
And that’s what I did. In fact, I made it my mission.
And then everything shifted.
I was so committed to making this coaching thing a success. I invested a lot of time, energy, and quite frankly, money into learning as much as I could about the business side of coaching, marketing, and running an online business. In short, I stopped playing small.
I invested in myself and my business through high-end coaching and training programs like Marie Forleo’s B-School, Emily Williams I Heart Coaching program, and Gina Devee’s Divine Living Academy, and other marketing and business programs with Amy Porterfield, Melyssa Griffin, and many others.
I went to some high-end coaching events…conferences in LA and New York and Vancouver, to name a few places.
And with all of this, I really began to get a lock on what I was doing. When I began applying the things I was learning, things definitely began to gel.
I began making money–really good money–and even better: I was happier and more fulfilled than I’d ever been.
And over time, I evolved again.
Because what I was discovering is that the whole marketing and business piece of things was SO incredibly fun for me. AND it seemed like I was pretty good at it. I had a lot of people ask me who wrote my copy, and who designed my landing pages … and at that point, I was doing it all myself. So I continued to follow my nose down the path I was really loving, and I went even deeper with business and marketing, and took my training to an even more formal level, and became a certified business coach.
I began helping other coaches–my fellow health and wellness coaches–to build their businesses, too. One reason I began doing that is because over the years I had become such a fan and an advocate of the coaching model, and I could see how much it helps people–in a way that conventional medicine is not in a position to–and so I’ve found myself on a mission to help more wellness coaches succeed.
Because the truth is, as I experienced myself….it’s not all that easy to succeed as an entrepreneur.
There’s a growing community of health and wellness coaches: wonderful people with the skills and interest in coaching people through the complex journey of lifestyle change. And yet, so many are struggling to find enough clients to grow their businesses and stay afloat.
And that’s why I am obsessed with helping health coaches get out there. In fact, I’ve made it my mission.
I realized that I could have an even bigger impact if I help other health and wellness coaches get their message out, grow their businesses, and change more lives. If I can support a coach to grow her business and connect with the people who need her most, this is what happens: more people get the help they need to improve their own health, the burden on our healthcare system is lessened, and perhaps best of all: that coach builds a career and a life she loves.
And that reason WHY is really one of my key missions now. For me, it’s all about bridging the gap between conventional healthcare and the wellness industry.
So my question for you is: do you want to come on that journey with me?
If you’re excited to chart a meaningful career path in the wellness field, but you’re looking for more support and guidance on how to actually make that happen…then you are absolutely in the right place.
I am obsessed with helping health coaches and wellness entrepreneurs build their businesses, grow their client lists, and spark meaningful change in the lives of others.
In this podcast, I’m going to be teaching you everything I learned about building a coaching business so you can benefit from all my mistakes and false starts and dead ends…and instead, do it RIGHT, right out of the gate.
And I’m here to tell you that: You can design the life you want while improving the lives of others.
So that’s what we’re going to be talking about in much more detail in the episodes to come. I’m going to be sharing everything I’ve learned from my years in wellness, and everything I’ve learned from my own coaches, mentors, training programs…and share it with you here, one bite-sized piece at a time.
In future episodes, we’ll be talking about…
- success mindset
- online marketing strategy
- business foundations
- offline marketing strategy
- money mindset
- getting clients
- and how to have an awesome life as a coach!
So if that sounds like the kind of thing that you’d be interested in, I would love for you to come along on this journey. Hit the subscribe links below…so you get notified when a new episode releases, and then let’s get started building your business!
- 3 Ways To Get New Clients: drkimfoster.com/getnewclients
LET’S HOP ON A CONSULTATION CALL! LEARN MORE HERE: https://drkimfoster.com/consultation
I’m an MD too and I think it is awesome what you are doing. I recently became a Certified Integrative Health Coach at Duke. Very interested in learning some business tools. I get what you mean that we never learn these things in medical school.
Oh awesome! A kindred spirit! Duke is a great program. Yes, there’s lots to learn when it comes to building a business! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you’ve got questions or need a little direction 🙂