What happens when you force yourself to do something totally new? For Anthony Yeung, something great.
About two years ago, I was dealing with depression and fed up with everything.
I was sick of my career path and my life direction. I was sick of my industry (fitness) and watching negligent personal trainers around me make more money and get better clients while I made $700 a paycheck.
At the time, I worked at a commercial gym that didn’t value its employees (or its clients). Yet I needed that paycheck. I also had dreams of writing for fitness magazines, but I could muster a few free guest posts that were sometimes attacked by douchebag commenters.
It was f*cking hard. I worked for peanuts, ran to a local coffee shop during any gaps in my training schedule to write, and ran back to train until 9pm. I was scared my situation wouldn’t improve because, the year prior, I mopped floors and cleaning toilets as an intern/janitor for a different gym.
Worse, neither of my parents had faith in me.
“Screw this,” I thought. “I’m going to follow my dream and become a strength coach.” I decide to cold-email over 50 strength coaches around the US, Asia, and Europe to learn. Eventually, I got three local offers to become a strength coach intern.
But I said “no” to each one because I realized the path to be a college or pro strength coach would be pitiful.
Years of unpaid work. Working from 5am to 8pm. Being extremely replaceable. In fact, my mentor was once the strength coach for a Division-I university — and was on welfare.
Then I tried being an online personal trainer. But when I offered free trials, several people stiffed me: They stopped responding to my emails and never even left me a testimonial.
Meanwhile, my job at the gym got worse — I knew I had the skills, but I just couldn’t get the clients. It was getting hopeless. I started thinking it was time to give up and go back to my old industry of finance.
Then, one October night, I listened to an interview with a girl who switched careers and made a multi-six-figure income. How did she decide to quit? “One year of your life is no joke,” she said. “Don’t waste two.”
Ugh. That’s exactly what I was doing. I was wasting my life. I wanted to quit my job, but I was compounding my mistake my holding on. And it hurt to hear that.
I wasn’t that adventurous 21-year-old kid who moved to South Korea and Taiwan anymore: I was 25, sitting in the same room I lived in as a kid, going nowhere, and struggling to save money. I paused the interview and wrote my resignation letter.
“Don’t quit, man,” my friends said. “Find something first and then quit.” But I couldn’t delay it anymore — I thought about quitting everyday for months. Every morning I woke up, I wanted to call sick. I started to loath personal training. I had no backup plan,
So I quit on November 4th.
My clients from the gym, however, didn’t join me. I had no idea what to do. Write more? Go back to finance? Find another training job?
I only one tiny glimmer of hope: People liked my writing. (I actually sucked at writing in high school and college.) And with all the hard work I did writing for free, one person recognized that and helped connect me with Muscle & Fitness. He trusted me. So I decided to take a huge risk: I used my savings to fly to New York City to meet fitness editors and connectors.
Then, on a cold and windy December morning, I emailed a major editor for advice and he responded within minutes. “Actually,” he wrote, “I can hop on the phone with you right now, if you have time.”
That led to a huge gig.
And it turned out that a lot of people I previously emailed years ago really weren’t as good as they claimed. They had made themselves seem bigger than they were, so once I surpassed them, they were shocked.
Then, I got an advanced copywriting gig as well as even more writing and marketing gigs.
Things were falling into place. All after I quit?!
Yep. I guess it allowed the swirl of activity happening in the background to finally come forward and shine.
Life is different now. I retired from personal training (but I still like learning about fitness). I write more and I take days off. I focus on my own projects and helping my clients. I don’t wake up with a groan. I take my time and enjoy my coffee. But when I work, I work. I smile a lot more, too.
But I’ll tell you one thing from the heart: If you ever think about quitting a job or trying something new, just do it. Don’t delay — that’s more wasted time and pain.
“What if I don’t have a backup plan?!”
Well, that’s an inappropriate question because you’re trying to solve a problem with the same mindset that got you that shitty job in the first place. Instead, enjoy the power of serendipity. Be confident in your resourcefulness.
And, if all else fails, just know that your true friends will love you, no matter what.
Now, I’m not “super successful” or anything: I don’t own a million-dollar company, I don’t have a yacht, and I don’t have millions of happy customers. But I have made mistakes and that counts, too.
It’s your life.
Want more tips on how to take that next step in your life? Visit my blog at www.anthonyjyeung.com and get 3 free exclusive interviews with Chris Guillebeau, AJ Jacobs, and Neil Patel.