I am a big dreamer, in case you haven’t noticed! I always have been. I can remember laying awake at night imagining the things I’d achieve, the stages I’d perform on, the traveling I’d do, and the people I’d meet.
Do you remember the first time you felt that gut-wrenching I-gotta-have-that sensation? Where you wanted something so badly you could feel it in your bones?
I know, I know… I describe that feeling in every other post. I could write a whole other post about how I feel everything in extremes, but we’ll try to stay on topic here.
My first gut-punch-dream (GPD?) formed at one of my first concerts (thank you, Simple Plan!). I had so much fun, I decided I was going to be a rockstar. I came home elated that night, called my five best friends and convinced them to be in a band with me, begged my parents to let me take bass guitar lessons, and began turning my teenage thoughts into whiney, angry, rhyme-y songs. “Red Fence” lasted a year, even though we only played together once in my living room. But, I did become a pretty decent bass player and I like to think that this is where my passion for writing sparked, so it wasn’t all a waste.
I believed with every fiber of my being that I was going to be a rockstar. I dressed like one, I was moody like one, I practiced my bass hard, I joined every side-gig band I could be in, and I went to as many concerts as possible to keep that fire alive.
Obviously, that dream didn’t come true.
As I grew up and started to better understand the desires I had for my life, I uncovered the second and dare I say, more significant GPD: inspire and teach others how to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
Three months prior to graduating college, I attended a “What’s Your Calling?” seminar. (PSA: seminars of such significance should be taken before your senior year.) The teacher leading the seminar asked us a series of questions, asking us to let our minds be free and be as honest as possible. “What’s your favorite hobby?” “What do you do with your free time?” “You feel the most joy when you are ___?” You get the gist.
Every answer was “running.” I spent all my free time running, I looked forward to long runs, I felt the most myself while I was running, I spent most of my time thinking about running, how could I have missed this? All of a sudden a world of possibilities opened up to me. Could I have a career that allowed me to feel all the joy that running brought me? What could that look like?
I wasn’t sure yet. But, I did know running was a type of fitness, and I only had 3 months to figure my shit out. I left that seminar and called every gym within a 10 mile radius. “My name is Maggie, I am a marketing major who will be graduating in a few months, and I am very passionate about health and fitness. I think you should hire me. Please call me back.” 8 “no’s” later, and I was starting to think I’d have to shove this dream to the side and drag my feet to a sales job.
But then, my phone rang and a woman who had sad “no” to me only days earlier was on the other end. She had taken some time to think things through, and couldn’t get my bold proposal out of her head.
It was at that point I found myself as the manager of a Curves gym for women. (Side-bar because I know she’s reading… thank you for taking a chance on me!) I spent the next year learning all about personal training, nutrition, how to connect with and coach clients, as well as all the ins and outs of running a business.
Working there wasn’t my favorite thing in the world, no. A 4:30am wake-up call, doing the same workout day after day, and the pressure to up-sell everyone was not my style. But, I learned so much there, things that still serve me today. I met so many amazing people, some of whom I still connect with today. It gave me the opportunity to test the waters of this health and wellness passion, to explore life outside of college in a fun and supportive atmosphere, and to determine the things that I liked and didn’t like as I thought about what was next for me…. and for all of that, I am forever grateful.
Yet, I needed more. Enter GPD number 2!
The problem I saw with the area I was living was that not a lot of people had access to the information or the resources to live a healthy lifestyle. Beyond that, the coaching and the materials they did have access to, cost them more than they were willing to or able to pay.
I wanted to bring the education and resources to everyone, in whatever way they could make it work for them. I wanted to connect with individuals, find what motivates them, and help them cultivate a lifestyle that would allow them to live more freely. I truly believed that nutrition and fitness were the foundation: clear mind, energy, self-love, etc. When we feel our best, we are better able to share ourselves with and serve others. And to me, that’s what life is all about.
As I cultivated this dream, the Universe started swinging doors open. The church I belonged to at the time was considering a fitness component to help bring the community together and to potentially fund other community-driven events. I was in the exact right place at the right time to say, “hey let’s combine our ideas and make something happen… now!” Thus, I had an investor in my business and they had someone to follow-through with theirs, it was a seemingly good partnership.
A few months of planning later I decided to just leap, and go all in. Another great universe-high-five was a husband that was supportive and brought in the finances to let me take a risk. I quit my job, started advertising, found equipment (some donated, some bought), and set a date for business to be open.
It started out great. I constructed group classes, I designed personal training programs, and I instigated a wave of word-of-mouth marketing in our small town. My creativity juices were firing on all cylinders, and every day was focused on making my dream a reality.
The best part was the freedom to structure the cost of all of this to fit the needs of the community. I provided per-class and unlimited classes monthly options, and per-minute options for personal training. There were also freely available daily recipes, workout advice, and the occasional series of educational in-person classes.
I was really proud of everything I had created. I could tangibly see people’s lives changing and not a moment of it felt like work. It was pure joy, pure freedom, and I believed I could go on like that forever.
But, dreams don’t come true.
After only a few months of bliss, problems began to surface. The shared warehouse space we were in was not conducive to long-term fitness studio success, and the promise of our own space within the year fell through. The person I had hired to help me teach some of the classes was starting to make controlling demands that I didn’t believe were right for the business. The church was pressuring me to make more of a profit, but wasn’t willing to help me work through my ideas (I was still a novice entrepreneur).
It seemed like overnight I went from health pioneer to overwhelmed failure. Long days of educating others, helping others, and inspiring others became endless stressful hours of trying to please everyone just to stay in business. And the more I lost sight of my vision, the harder it became to get up in the morning.
After a year had passed, I decided to re-evaluate the business plan. I took inventory of what was working, what wasn’t working, and the costs associated with each. Ultimately, I decided to focus on the one-on-one training. Not only was that where the passion ultimately lay, but it allowed the business to operate in a smaller space, on a per-client basis, and with no one else to rely on but myself.
I was able to sell-off a lot of the class equipment, pay off the original investment, let go of my employee, and essentially eliminate a majority of the expenses. Back to the basics: just me and a dream to help others.
The church continued to be involved as they were the providers of my physical space as well as the investors in any advertising or events I provided. So, even though the dream was back in motion, the overwhelming pressure continued. All the inspiration I wanted to rock n’ roll with had to be passed through a series of advisors, and ultimately, I was left feeling like I was wasting their time and money; my thoughts were often brushed off, and the only conversations they were interested in were about money.
Another 6 months passed. And while I found joy and success in working one-on-one with my clients, the vision that had once drove me was fading. I couldn’t handle the pressure and loneliness of “me against the world,” as I was constantly questioned about what was next for Battlefield Fitness.
One more time I thought, “what can I do to make this work?” I considered the fact that my main source of pain was feeling alone in the process, and started questioning whether it would make sense to bring in another person to drive this dream along with me. Being in the zone again, the universe provided another open door. A girl I had recently become friends with and admired very much was struggling to find joy in her job and was looking for something different. She was already trusted and respected by my investors and I believed she had strengths in areas that I was weak. Perfect, right?
Round 1: 1 year
Round 2: 6 months
Round 3: 3 months
Three months was all if took for me to realize this partnership was anything but good. She was easily frustrated by the way I analyzed, processed, and executed things. I was easily offended by her inability to communicate and her steam-roller personality. What originally looked like a breath of fresh air, and an opportunity to balance strength with innovation to make something great, turned into a broken friendship and a stolen business.
So I gave up. I ran out of energy. I ran out of ideas. I ran out of spirit.
Dreams don’t come true.
What I believed about myself: failure, irresponsible, unworthy
What I believed about other people: they have high expectations, they only care about success, they take what they want
In an effort to start creating a life in which I thrive, I’ve created a “New Reality.” The purpose of this tool (as described in my previous post) is to reverse-engineer a better, but still true, reality. And I’m going to stare at it, re-read it, and flood my conscious mind with it until I fully believe it, solidifying it in my subconscious.
I don’t actually believe dreams don’t come true. I hope you found the sarcasm in that. It’s just my overly-dramatic way of expressing the fact that my dreams failed. And it has been easier to blame other people; blame the universe.
But, as I consider the opportunity to follow through on my current dreams, I realize that the blaming of other people/places/things/circumstances is what’s getting in my way.
The truth is that I feel like a failure. The truth is that I didn’t execute the things I needed to in order to succeed. The truth is that I didn’t stick up for my dreams because I was scared and insecure. The truth is that I gave up when things got too hard.
You know what’s funny though? Upon reflection, I’m seeing that I am living my dreams. They just don’t look the way I had imagined:
I’m not famous, I’m not touring, I’m not even writing music. But do I travel a lot, inspire people with my content, have friends all over the world, and thrive when I’m “performing” (leading, speaking, entertaining, etc.). Oddly enough, a lot of the teams I’ve helped train have thanked me by saying, “you’re a rockstar!” and I smile every time. I even got featured multiple times in the company’s marketing material. So I mean… publicity? fans? national travel? Maybe I am a rockstar… minus the rock-ing.
I don’t own a fitness studio and I’m not a personal trainer. But, everywhere I go I attract people into my life who want to learn more about nutrition and fitness. I often find a lot of the conversations I engage in end up in a place of me offering to help someone discover their wellness goals and motivation. I also find “home” in the fitness atmosphere. Despite moving cross-country as a single adult, I find belonging and friendships in CrossFit boxes and running groups. So I mean… maybe I just have to keep going.
You cute, universe. I see you. The dreams aren’t dead. My story isn’t over.
As always, thank you Mavpack! As I near the end of this series, I’m really beginning to understand the power that we hold in our own lives. What we think, what we believe, how we feel… everything shapes our reality. So really, we can make it look however we want it to, can’t we?
Keep on, FLI-ing on!