For the Pro

3 Things That Helped Me Take the Leap to Follow My Passion

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By Mercedes Vargas, NLC

Life is a journey, and I have explored various career paths. Now, I’m so excited about starting a business in wellness. However, the decision to do so wasn’t easy.

In fact, from talking to my study group during my health coach training, it seems like one of the biggest fears people have is leaving their corporate job to start a business. I’m still in the process, but now that I’ve changed careers, I’m eager to share a few things that helped me get over that fear and take the leap.

First, some background: I studied psychology at Columbia University and completed all the pre-med requirements. After that, I started working for a psychiatric group and become disillusioned with medicine because I felt that patient care was not the priority. My year off led to a decision not to go to medical school.

RELATED: How Becoming Nutritious Life Certified Changed My Career

I left the practice and went on to work in ad sales for an internet company. A few years later, I  went to culinary school and then worked as a pastry chef at various restaurants and hotels in New York City.

Meanwhile, I finished my Nutritious Life Certification and left with a desire to continue expanding my knowledge. So, I signed up for the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Health Coach program. I decided I want to focus on teaching people to eat empowered—one of the nine pillars of Nutritious Life. I have done cooking classes for private clients and have always enjoyed teaching new techniques or how to use new ingredients. So, I want to start a business in which I can coach and teach people how to cook and eat empowered.

I finally left my job as a corporate pastry chef and am starting fall working as a health coach and creating a curriculum for my own project.

I think following your passion creates a happier world and can help others make a difference. You never know who you are inspiring. When I went to my 20-year college reunion this past summer, I ran into a classmate who had read a feature on me in our alumni magazine, and it inspired him to pursue photography.

In case you’re thinking of also following your heart towards a career that will allow you to be your best self and help others do the same, here are three things that helped me during my journey.

3 Things That Make a Career Change Easier

1. Find joy in your day (and your work)

Joy is an important part of life, and it’s different for all of us. Figure out what brings joy into your day! Getting up every day should feel like an opportunity to accomplish a new goal, and if you’re doing what you love, you’ll hopefully feel that. Getting up to hit a workout class in the early morning can also get you excited about the day. On the days that I get my workout in early, I feel more productive and energetic. I start thinking about recipes and get creative with making them. In the end, both your work and how you spend the rest of your day should contribute to the joy in your life.

RELATED: How to Add Joy to Your Healthy Lifestyle, a la Joy Bauer

2. Keep learning

I believe being a lifetime learner helps you stay sharp and allows you to create more opportunities for yourself. Take a class, read books, teach yourself a new skill, or listen to a podcast on something you’re interested in. Be open to learning and it can help you jump on a new opportunity or develop your business.

3. Find your tribe, ask for help, and take feedback

I have a group of friends and family that are amazing and always love to hear what I’m working on, but not everyone in your world will love what you are doing. I use the feedback from both sides to think about how I can improve.

I am also fortunate to have found communities like the Nutritious Life Studio and other wellness groups that help us be accountable to each other and ourselves. I have met amazing women IRL and online and developed great friendships and business partnerships.

You can also reach out to experts. It’s amazing how many people will help you if you ask the right question. Ask precise questions, and you’ll get clear answers. You might even get a different perspective that you didn’t expect.

In the end, we all have special skills and life experiences that make us special. Let’s share our gifts with others by being our best selves and sharing health and wellness with the world. Following your passion is the path towards making that happen.


career change easier

Mercedes Vargas is a New York City-based holistic chef. She is Nutritious Life Certified and is completing health coach training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is focused on teaching people to be empowered in their food choices and teaches culinary classes with a holistic approach, to feed the whole self. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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