There’s a little wooden plaque hanging up in my home that reads: Where does your story begin? I guess the story of my second and present career as an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and business developer begins as a worn out and overweight post-graduate student. Life had just put me through the wringer. With my divorce, the death of my father, and the job hunting process all occurring simultaneously, I was left feeling exhausted, but not defeated. I was ready for a positive change. My fresh start in Dallas, I decided, would begin by getting rid of the weight I had put on during this stressful period and by simply taking care of myself. Thus, on the same day that I moved to Dallas to begin my life as an Assistant Professor of French Literature at Southern Methodist University, I began following a video-based fitness program called Slim in 6. Who knew that this six-week fitness program on dvd would open the door to a path that would eventually allow me to create a seven-figure income where my job is to help other people transform their lives physically and financially.
I am living the dream and loving every moment of it. Over the course of the next five days I will shed light on what it is that I do as a coach and business developer.
The decision to leave academia was not an easy one. In fact, it was a three-year struggle that included hiring a success coach to help me manage my time so that I could get through the tenure process and pursue my part-time “thing” as an Independent Beachbody Coach. Looking back I remember being furious with my success coach after she had one day remarked that I had a particular gift for coaching others and building my business. I can’t remember if she flat out suggested that I consider leaving academia, but that was what I had understood her to mean. Even though I could not have been more passionate about my involvement with Beachbody, I was not ready to let go of academia. I was afraid of being a quitter. More importantly, I was plagued by the thought of what others would think, including my mother, who would periodically call to ask if I had already finished my book. Oh and then there were my graduate school classmates, some of whom I was told were saying that I had run off to Los Angeles to become the next Jane Fonda.
I can now smile at those days and know that comments such as those are based on fear and insecurity. It can, however, be difficult to ignore unsupportive comments, even if they are well meaning, precisely because embarking in a new endeavor, following your dreams takes courage. For those who may be considering leaving academia, remember that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Dare to be courageous. Think about the possibilities that you can create instead of looking to fit into another cookie-cutter mold.
What was meant to be a hobby turned into a business because I simply could not contain myself from doing what I was passionate about. While I loved teaching at SMU, I loathed the research that went with the requirements for tenure. I had always viewed research as the necessary evil so to speak to doing what I loved: teaching. However, the joy and satisfaction that I felt from coaching others and building a business contrasted too starkly with the way I felt while working my way toward tenure: miserable and full of self-doubt. With Beachbody I had an opportunity to do something that I was passionate about and that had the potential of rewarding me handsomely and I took it! I embraced the opportunity and have never looked back. Now my life is dedicated, as I hope you will see, to helping others live out loud.
Thank you Barbie for sharing your story! I am having a bit of a tough time in the final months of my PhD now, I have applied for academic jobs but know that’s really not where my heart lies. I am very active person and have hated being cooped up inside the office all day long and dread not making it out in time to hit the gym or go for a run. A lack of female examples of people who have successfully made the transition into bigger and better professional careers has plagued me a bit .. so I am really happy I stumbled across your story! Thank you!
Barbie Decker Phd says
Bekki, you are so welcome! Today’s market demands that we create our own opportunities. The academic model is outdated. Yes, there is hope and there are so many opportunities out there. Feel free to contact me if you want to explore this avenue. The opportunity is real! And good luck with the final stage!
I am almost done with my PhD. I do want to do something I am passionate about; how exactly did you transition to fitness? I’m always told that I like helping others and love fitness too!
Katie Wedemeyer says
I feel the same way, and ma happy to see an example of someone who made this work and left academia without feeling guilty about it. I’m currently a graduate student, and a Beachbody coach and have wondered what I’ll do once I graduate – if I’ve built my team up by then I don’t know if I’d be able to walk away from it, I really enjoy it. I love my research too and have joked to friends, “If I could grow my business enough to spend free time doing outreach that would be awesome”. Seeing your story makes that more of a tangible option. Thank you for being an example for the rest of us and sharing your story!