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Making Lemonade: It's Never Too Late to Create a Life You Love

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Working in a demanding advertising agency, Michelle Pfennighaus was one among millions who was laid off in the economic downturn. She learned firsthand that when life hands you lemons, you really can make lemonade. Michelle is featured in the documentary film, Lemonade, where she talks candidly about how she reinvented her life post-pink slip. Using yoga as an outlet for stress led Michelle to pay more attention to the foods she was eating. As she started to look and feel better, she discovered a passion for nutrition and started studying at Integrative Nutrition. Now as a certified health coach and yoga instructor, Michelle feels better than ever doing work she loves and helping others to improve their health.

Similar to Michelle, many people have discovered their true passion after getting laid off and re-assessing their priorities. Just last month, another 36,000 Americans lost their jobs. Realizing they are overworked and unfulfilled, many people have seen this economy as an opportunity for change and a chance to pursue their passions. But you don't have to get a pink slip to start reinventing you life!

When you work at a job that is draining, stressful, or uninspiring, you end up looking for fulfillment in other ways. In a culture that values instant gratification, we look to the "quick fix" and spend little time evaluating the consequences. Perhaps you turn to excessive smoking, drinking or eating unhealthy food. Life quickly becomes unbalanced and difficult. Trying to manage stress in unhealthy ways keeps you stuck, spending years doing work that you may be completely opposed to. Finding work you love is essential to living a healthy, balanced life.

The average person spends many waking hours working, trying to pay the bills. We all feel the pressure to keep up, but rarely do we step back and look at how the pressures affects our lives; the compromises that we make to our relationships, health and well being. How many of you enjoy your work? Most people complain constantly and feel powerless to change it. If you are like the people I've met in my practice, you dread Monday morning, and work for the weekend -- over and over, week after week, year after year. You don't realize the extent your life would improve if you were doing work you loved.

Too many people don't understand their ability to walk away from a job and start a new one. The job market today is fast moving and flexible; people have 3 or 4 careers in a lifetime.
Everyone has the power to reinvent their career, work for different companies, or be their own boss, and find a job that is fulfilling. Some people make this choice themselves when they feel the negative effects on their health, and some people are forced to reexamine their career path when they personally feel the effects of an economic meltdown.

We've seen many people end up at Integrative Nutrition because they decided to follow their passion in health and wellness.

Ready to find your passion? You can start by trying these exercises:

Find Work you Love

Think about it. You spend 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week at work. That adds up! You probably spend more time with your coworkers than with anyone else in your life. Are you passionate about your job and do you love the people you work with? If not, chances are that takes a toll on your health.

Think about your current job and what would have to change to make you love it. Is it the salary, your boss or coworkers, the schedule, or is it what you actually do all day, that needs to change? Find what is not working at your current job and see if you can fix it. You may just need to ask to get the changes you need!

If Money Didn't Matter

If you decided right now that you had enough money and that you would always have enough, what would you do with your life? Write at least 5 imaginary lives.

Think about the following:

• What kind of work do you love?
• Who would be part of your life?
• Where would you live?

We often equate work with money; this is just part of it. Work can be a meaningful, rewarding experience every day. To have a fulfilling career that nourishes you, find work that you feel passionate about. Haven't found your passion yet? That's ok, it's fun figuring that part out too. Try joining a new club, volunteering and exploring new interests. Look at what you already do and enjoy. Are you an avid collector? Maybe an antique shop is in your future. Do you love working out and showing others how? Or do you have culinary talents that wow your dinner guests? The possibilities for a new future are endless.

Do you feel stuck in a job you aren't happy at? There is no right or wrong answer, you just need to explore options for yourself and find what works for you. Have you taken advantage of an opportunity to reinvent your life? Please tell us your "lemonade" story in the comments. You never know who you may inspire.

Joshua Rosenthal is the founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the largest nutrition school in the world. Visit the site for a free "14 Days to a Healthier You" coaching program.

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