Ask Keri: What were some of the biggest mistakes you’ve encountered in your career?
Keri says: Oh my goodness, where do I even begin?! I’ve made so many different mistakes, I’m trying to think of which bucket to pick from.
I was on our weekly Nutritious Life Studio Zoom call last week and we were talking about this very topic actually—mistakes and failures. One person in the group mentioned feeling horrible about a client who hadn’t reached a health goal. This person on the Zoom felt like it was all her fault and had a sense of failure as a nutrition coach. I said to her, “First of all, you’re not alone. Many people feel that way when they’re working with clients.” I went on to share how easy it is to take on your clients’ thoughts, feelings, emotions and even their failures. I absolutely made that mistake probably dozens of times. I would take home all of those emotions and feel incredibly stressed if a client didn’t reach a goal.
I’d be up all night worrying about what I could have done and how that person felt. Then, the next day I’d get a call or text saying,”I’m feeling better, I’m great.” What?! I was up all night thinking and worried! I wasted a lot of time and energy over the years when I could have been staying more positive—focusing on continuing to help these clients, but not taking on all of their emotions. Setting emotional boundaries is important.
I think that’s something very common when people are first counseling clients. But, you’ll burn out if you keep it up. You have to realize your clients’ may not be reaching their health goals for a million different reasons—genetics, stress etc.—but that doesn’t mean they won’t get there with your help. And, it also doesn’t mean you can’t prioritize yourself and set boundaries.
You can always look to do better as a dietitian or a coach. You should always want to learn, especially with nutrition…science is always changing.You have to evolve, you have to grow, and you often have to look at things differently from time-to-time. Of course you have to look at your mistakes and learn from them, but you can’t take on every client hiccup as your own. You’re going to waste a lot of energy and deplete yourself.
This may seem like a simple “mistake,” but it’s a big one when you think of all the energy you could waste feeling stressed, worried, and insecure and emotionally exhausted. I wish I had learned this before I got started in private practice.
From a larger business perspective, I used to get so wrapped up if something didn’t work out. If it was a brand deal, or a TV show for example, I would be so emotionally attached to the outcome. And when it didn’t work out, it would devastate me. Ok, that’s a little dramatic but it would drain me big time.It would ruin my day. I’d come home cranky.
Then, I started to think, “Why am I bringing this stress into my life?” I had little kids, I didn’t want to bring that energy into my home. I got to a point in my career where when something didn’t go right, I thought, “Okay, this is not happening and that is ok! This may sound a little bit cliché, but I would say to myself this is happening for a reason. The longer you’re in business, the easier it is to have the attitude of“Whatever. So what? There’s something tomorrow.”
So the next time you get disappointed that something didn’t go your way, give yourself five minutes. Say, “Okay, I’m giving myself five minutes to be effing pissed off, angry, upset, whatever.” Be cranky, angry, and upset—but set a timer. Five minutes, that’s it. I call it my 5 minute rule.
Then, move on. Pick one thing to do that is productive…even the tiniest thing. Cross one little thing off your list—it will make you feel better—and then move forward.