The Little Book of Game Changers: 50 Healthy Habits For Managing Stress & Anxiety just turned a year old. And wow, what a year it has been. As I look back on the past year, I’m blown away by how much happened, but I’ve also found myself reflecting on my career path.
I had known since I was a kid that I wanted to write a book that helped people and that eventually the right idea would come at the right time, so I made the decision early on to make writing and communications a part of my work. I actually got a BFA in writing before I went back to school to become a dietitian (I thought I was so late to the game, at 23 years old—hah!) and even though it wasn’t easy, it’s been so rewarding to be able to combine both my passions: communications and nutrition.
No matter where you find yourself in life today, it’s never too late to start on a new career path. Whether you’re a recent grad or changing careers altogether, I know that making the leap can be scary, but also a real adventure.
I get asked for career advice a lot, and while I think there will always be new things to learn, something I wish I had been told when I was starting is that it’s okay to be you and to not let others talk you down. I actually talk about this too in the book—I spent so much energy feeling bad about my perceived shortcomings and the things that made me “weird” but those are the things that have made me who I am and that are some of my favorite things about myself.
Another big one: Trust the process. It’s also normal (and often a blessing in disguise) for things to take time. When I was in school I was always in such a rush and worried about why I wasn’t farther ahead. I can see now that there was still a lot I needed to learn and integrate, and there will always be things we’re not ready for yet—and that’s okay. I wish I had spent more time in grad school actually enjoying all that free time I didn’t appreciate.
For those of you considering a career in dietetics, I reached out to my dietitian colleagues for their health and wellness advice, and I am excited to share it with you:
“Remember to take time to unplug. I remember when I used to have ‘office hours’ but that no longer exists. Reporters contact me at all hours and my schedule is often frenetic — I’m sure those who work with media can attest to that. Especially with working from home — the weekdays and weekends have morphed together. Try to carve out ‘you’ time and time with those you care about. (BTW – I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, too!)” — Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RDN, CDN of Bonnie Taub-Dix
“It’s OK to say no to clients that you sense you either cannot help or will be psychological vampires. We all have our limits. Refer people out that are not a good fit for you or for them.” – Lisa Cicciarello Andrews, MEd, RD, LD of Sound Bites Nutrition
“Build and maintain friendships with other RDs. These are the people you can brainstorm with, vent with, problem solve, meet up at conferences. I think it makes your life richer with social connections within your profession.” — Judy Barbe, RD of LiveBest
“Do as much as you can before starting a family. Time goes by so fast and it’s comforting to know you have a foundation set up so you can focus on enjoying your family. Then, your perspective will change, but that’s ok!” — Theresa Battaglia Gentile, MS, RD of TheresaGentileRD
“If you are blogging make sure you get educated about SEO otherwise you can write the most amazing, helpful nutrition blogs but no one will be able to find them.” — Jean LaMantia, RD of Jean LaMantia
“Look up and know specialists in your field of interest, get a mentor as early as possible who can assist and provide you with correct guidance. Learn to rest and not stop when tired. Rest will be history.” — Tejal Pathak, MS, RD, LD, CDCES of TejRD
“Don’t let the job hunt get you down. Depending on where you live, the RD job market can be super saturated, making it really challenging to find a job. It’s really hard on the self confidence to constantly be getting the message that your best isn’t good enough to land a job. Know you’re not alone, find support where you can, ask for help, and definitely consider out of the box jobs in the nutrition world.” — Bri Bell, RD of Bri Bell
“Be authentic. If you’re playing imposter, your client base will be able to tell. You also will end up with clients that don’t fit what you have to give!” — Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD of Peace and Nutrition
“Seek advice from trusted leaders in the field who are willing to serve as mentors. I see learning from those who have been in your shoes as playing into self-care. Tips from those who have been successful will save you time and energy trying to navigate a new professional space all on your own, leaving you that space for self-care.” — Jinan Banna, PhD, RD of Jinan Banna
I hope you find their sage advice helpful!
Want to learn more? I regularly shine the spotlight on fellow healthcare workers and wellness professionals creating resources to support health and wellness professionals, so if you want to stay in the loop join my email list.