I once had a blog called Choose Your Wellness a few years back where I talked a lot about how nutrition, exercise, and mental health were the pillars of a great life. A belief and passion I still hold today.

What many people don’t know was that I was also going through an existential crisis of who I was and what I want(ed) to be when I grow up. Which was part of the reason why I started the blog. I daydreamed often about making passion become my “one thing“.

I know, I thought, I’m incredibly passionate about fitness and nutrition so I should be doing that! Look at how much some of these people make (first mistake)!

I started thinking about the possibilities of pursuing this path. I read articles, pitched some articles to fitness and nutrition blogs, bought a personal trainer manual and books, and started looking into the many ways I could make this work. Turns out, dreaming about the end result was much more enjoyable to me than actually putting in the work.

I struggled at the time with whether or not I should follow my passion or if I should stick with the Urban Planning field I was currently in. I had an all or nothing mindset and I had convinced myself that there was no ooching into this or testing the waters (second mistake).

Forget about starting small. I had reasoned that this new venture was going to be my one thing and should replace my full-time job. Instead of pouring my heart into the one “client” I had at the time to test the waters, I got intimidated staring up a huge mountain.

I lacked confidence at the time and thought I needed credibility before taking any steps. Yes, education is required to practice and the knowledge gained from this education is valuable in its own right. However, I was really just seeking permission from some “authoritative” entity in order to move forward.

I had come across a well-respected company called Precision Nutrition that offered a nutrition coaching certification. It was a steep price for me at the time at $800 but I knew it was a high-quality certification and would provide valuable insight on both coaching and nutritional research.

This was my chance to take the leap. Should I buy it, I asked myself for days? How serious am I about this?

In a bout of courage, I bought it. Partially because I gave myself an out if it didn’t work out. I had 90 days to return it for a full money-back guarantee (third mistake). Although I never really defined what it “working out” meant.

I knew this certification alone wasn’t going to make me legit or transform me into the best coach ever overnight. I did know that I needed to grow my skillset and become more confident with what I was seeking to do.

It was going good for a while but I lost steam. Although I was interested and excelling in this field (due to all of the previous work I put in over the years), I started questioning the process and the vision.

Our minds go through different phases when we think we are onto something big. The first being pure excitement and seeing all of the epic ways it could go right. The other is the realization of how much work it will take, the hustle, the sacrifice, the BS and how slow it might be to get somewhere your imagination is already at. For me, it was no different except I lacked a powerful why and struggled with commitment.

After all, my current day job was my first one out of college. Should I really give it up this quick? Maybe I should just change jobs.

Truthfully, I was scared and I didn’t want to put in the work. I was in love with the result and not the process.

Instead of completing this certification course, I stopped halfway through. I stopped something that I was interested in because of the uncertainty of how it would earn me money. I reasoned at the time that money and safety were more important to me than following a passion so I used the refund money to pay down our debt.

My greed, poor relationship with money and lack of financial security skewed my judgment. All for what? Padding my bank account with a number I felt “good” about? Lowering my debt by $800 more despite how hard we were working on reducing this anyway?

I had planned the purchase and made it smartly so it wasn’t a huge hit to our finances. 

I think about this from time to time and what could have been. That certification would have provided me with so much more over time than I realized. It could have been something I used to stay helpful to people who should have been the motivating driver in the first place.

Que the lessons: If you give yourself an out or half-ass something, you’re likely to find reasons to back out. And if you don’t have a deeper legitimate reason for doing something, you should probably wait until it becomes unavoidable. Money should never be the reason for you not investing in yourself. Personal growth should always be a top priority and something we make sacrifices for.

Another thing I realized from this experience is that following my passion with the intention of it becoming my primary income was a terrible idea. Since I began to gaze through the money lens, I lost the passion of helping others and was forced into survival mode. I found that what was once a creative release, now caused anxiety because I believed that my passion should support me financially.

I didn’t have to force my passions to consume my life or the be what I do for money. Passion and creative ventures can be just that. 

And it turns out, extremely influential people before me have committed to “not pursuing their creative outlet for money” this in their own lives which has ironically led them to massive [financial] success. 

I learned this too late.

Financial security is what we make it. But personal growth, whether it be through schooling, courses, certifications, books, for the right reasons, is more meaningful. If we are constantly growing as people, we may never know our true ceilings.

So don’t be like 2014 Kyle. Don’t let the number in your bank account or your debt total keep you from making meaningful investments in yourself. Think again about your passions and their relationship to your work life. Don’t forget how important intention is with something like this and remember that growing as a person is one of the most meaningful things in life. Opportunities always seem to show up in weird ways in life and they become easier to see if you’re doing the inner work.