Whitney Wilson didn’t waste much time in planning her escape. After graduating from college in 2007, she worked as a legal assistant for 2 years with the intention of applying to graduate school for art history. As planned, during her second year as a legal assistant, she diligently applied to doctoral programs in art history and then enrolled in one thinking that she was off to a great new career start that would suit her free spirit. That lasted one year instead of eight. Now, she is working as a yoga instructor in New York City (http://www.YogawithWhitney.com) and loving every minute of her new life. “I am able to set my own schedule. Get paid to do what I love. And, I have time to volunteer.”
She has been practicing yoga for 10 years and had entertained the idea of becoming a yoga teacher on more than one occasion. “I always shied away from that path because I feared that I was (a) not good enough at yoga and (b) would not have steady work”. So, she kept practicing with the intention of bringing her physical practice to a level she was comfortable with taking to a teacher training. In her second semester of graduate school, – frustrated, lonely, and fearing that the worst had yet to come – she applied to a teacher training program and was accepted. “I hadn’t been this excited for anything to do with my academic work in a long time! After the third day of teacher training, I came home to my boyfriend and announced my desire to quit school and devote myself full-time to yoga. He thought I was kidding”. Within two months after the end of her training, she had withdrawn from her doctoral program and began teaching a weekly class and private sessions at a local gym.
One of the important considerations of escaping the 9 to 5 is giving yourself permission to take a risk. Also, “it is important to be realistic with your risk-taking and only take the opportunity to leave a 9-5 world, if (a) you see that there is a means of making a living out of what you want to do in the future and (b) you are not financially responsible for anyone but yourself and/or you have a good support system to help you when times get tough, because they will.”
One of Whitney’s challenges is being shy about promoting herself. All to often people end up doing things for free to try and build a client base, but this rarely actually converts into paying clients. It’s important to remember that you have a skill people need, and that you deserve to be paid for it.
Four months into her new life, she is teaching more every week. “While I am still working to build a steadier workload and am not yet financially independent, I feel confident in my decision and know that in time the remuneration will come”. She has had great feedback from her students and has had the time to volunteer to teach children in New York City public schools and start a blog (http://yogawithwhitney.wordpress.com/). “Now, I feel that I am living my life and am not shaping my ambitions to fit any mold. I feel healthier, happier and, most importantly, that I am able to make an immediate and lasting difference in people’s lives”.