If you haven’t already, take a quick look at Episode One where I give an overview of all of the big milestones that took me from where I was in 2017 to where I am today!
Alright friends, we are going to dive deep into this blog series – My Story – going back to 2017 when I made the realization that my life had gotten so off track from what I had envisioned for myself. I knew I had to make a change – a big one – that would allow me to get my life back on track in the ways I wanted.
But first, a little background:
In order to understand my situation, I’m just going to give you some brief history to fill in some gaps: I grew up doing dance from the age of 5 and spent most of my training at a very intense level within the competitive dance world. When I graduated high school, while I initially had no intention to continue doing anything dance related, a friend of mine was opening her own studio and asked if I’d like to teach for her. Of course, that sounded WAY better than getting a restaurant or retail job, so I accepted and began teaching, choreographing, and coaching the competitive team at her studio.
At this time, I also started going to college for Interior Design. I had been interested in the fine arts my whole life and this seemed like a career that would blend my artistic and creative side with my very analytical, organized and logical brain. I kept teaching dance throughout my time in school and stayed on a few days a week even when entering the working world full time as a designer for high end hotels, resorts, spas and restaurants.
In 2008, the economy crashed big-time and all of the designers and architects in my field slowly began being laid off as all commercial projects were put on hold or terminated. I eventually lost my position in 2009 and was faced with the terrifying thought of, “what do I do now?” Holding on to that dance job really saved my butt and allowed me to continue making some small income while trying to figure out what to pursue next.
Ultimately, a bunch of stars aligned and I decided I would take the leap into becoming a business owner by opening up my own dance studio. This is really probably tied with the most life-altering decision I’ve ever made. I’d already been doing most of the things for someone else and knew the competitive dance world like the back of my hand, so it seemed like the natural action to take – absolutely terrifying nonetheless! I opened my studio in 2010 and was off and running!
I was able to build a thriving and profitable business almost immediately and I loved the work I was doing and the challenges it brought. I grew so much from that experience and it has definitely shaped the person I am today…
Now, the big decision of 2017:
That being said, flash forward to the 6th year of my business and the beginning of 2017. I realized I was in a BAD place. I really wasn’t happy or satisfied anymore with most aspects of my life. Career, health, body, marriage, family + friend relationships, my lifestyle… none of it was working for me and I knew I had to make a huge shift to get back to the vision I had for myself and my life. “I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING! This is NOT the life I’d planned.“
I determined the critical decision would be to drop the really profitable, successful business + dance studio that I was no longer in love with and passionate about. It had been nearly 30 years consecutively involved with the dance community, almost 15 years as a teacher, choreographer, and coach, 6 of which was as a business owner.
I knew at the start of what became my final season, I didn’t feel the same excitement, passion, thrill, or commitment to my business like I had in the past. It didn’t light me up in the same way. I started to dread having to create something new all the time. The long hours and jam-packed weekends started to feel daunting and undesirable. I felt like my business had started overshadowing every other aspect of my life.
Traveling is something that both my husband and I love and have planned as being a significant part of our lives together. Yet, I couldn’t go on vacation when I wanted to. It was never a ‘good time’ to leave the studio. Even if I could work it out to leave physically, I couldn’t leave it mentally. Something was always coming up, I couldn’t always find good people to take over the work for me while I was away and I always was stressed about continuing to check for email if people were having problems.
We had made the decision to create the freedom of time and money in our marriage by choosing to not have children. But here we were being totally restricted by this business instead. I mean, I basically had 150 children to worry about and take care of through this studio, lol. Not the same as being a parent, I know, but ironic nonetheless. I had the sudden realization of this one day and it totally blew my mind. “What am I doing? This is not the life of freedom that we’d planned!”
Most of my weekends were taken up by actual dance competitions or the rehearsals to prepare for them. I would teach tons of private lessons and schedule extra time to work with the kids on their routines which prohibited me from spending time with my husband, friends and family. This was a sacrifice I gladly made in the beginning, but had begun to wear on me over time. “Is this really how I want to be spending my time? Am I really willing to miss out on all these other things for my business?”
My marriage to my husband was slowly growing apart. We didn’t get to spend a whole lot of time together, and the unhappiness I was beginning to feel in my business and everywhere else really carried over into our relationship as well. I was beginning to have a bad attitude about everyone and everything. I couldn’t sleep many nights because I was so stressed out and anxious. I had gained a lot of weight throughout the 6 years. I drank a lot of wine and ate a lot of food in attempts to cope with all my negative emotions. I was also starting to have some major health issues which is what I’ll be discussing in the next episode, but essentially nothing in my life was going the way I’d wanted anymore.
That’s when I knew I had to let go of the studio. I could no longer get excited over dance, choreographing, teaching, competing, or running this business, so it was time to let it go. This brought up a TON of stress and mind drama. This wasn’t just closing the doors to an ice cream shop or a clothing boutique. I had over 100 families that were a part of the studio, some at a level where their kids spent more time here than their own homes. This involved whole community of families and there weren’t a lot of other studios like mine in the area they could conveniently go to. “This is going to affect a LOT of people, will they all hate me? Are they going to be upset?”
I knew that closing the doors would also be closing the door on my involvement in the dance world altogether. “What will my life look like without dance and the people in this world? Who am I without dance in my daily life?”
I had NO plan as to what I would do next. I had no backup career other than to go back to something design related but it had been nearly 7 years of a gap in resume there, so I wasn’t even sure if that would be a possibility.
Regardless of all the fear, discomfort and judgement, I knew this was the key to turning my life around and getting back to being the person I desired to be. It had to be done. I ended up being able to sell my business to a friend of mine. That made me feel better in a lot of ways, but namely, there would still be a place for kids to continue dancing if they chose, I would have some financial flexibility to figure out my next steps and I could give a friend of mine an opportunity to be a business owner and create financial stability for herself and her family. I found a lot of relief in all that selling the business as opposed to just shutting it down created.
I spent several months working through the logistics of this and in June of 2017 I directed my final end-of-year recital and that was it! Looking back on it, it’s funny that the biggest life-changing decisions I’ve made so far have been to A) Open the studio and then B) Close the studio. Both of these decisions drastically altered the course of my life in so many ways and I’ll be forever grateful for making both of these big, difficult moves in my life. I only wish I’d had the mindset tools that I have now to navigate through this journey with a little more ease!
If you are struggling to make a decision that you know is going to change everything for you, I’ve been there. I’ve felt the uncertainty and the fear, I know how real it is, but I also know how sweet the result can truly be. I hope this has helped if you are in a similar position or can see it looming up ahead. I’d love to help you through this transition and ease you through all that I had to figure out on my own. I’d love for you to request a free consult call where we can chat about you and your journey!