A Recent Career Milestone

2010 October 30
by Alan Aragon

One of the most defining moments in my career just happened.

And no, it’s not the fact that I stumbled into a brief torrent of T-shirt design. Some of you might relate to the experience I’m about to describe. The reason I wanna share this is not to show off how cool I am, but to show you how I still run into inner struggles with a journey that I’ve intended to create for myself. I also think there’s a lesson or two to be learned, and I’d like to pass those on.

Last week I was given the opportunity to test my chops as the full-time nutritionist of the Los Angeles Kings. During a lengthy discussion with Jeff Solomon, the team’s director of operations, we came to an agreement that my distance-based model of working with clients didn’t line up with his vision of having a full-time staffer who traveled with the team. I could have decided to fulfill this more traditional position, but instead I chose to stick with my current trajectory. 

Could I have been open to actually driving to work? Yes – I do it every Monday for my in-person counseling practice. Could I have been open to allowing myself to become part of a team of coaches building better professional athletes? Yes – I do it right now, although on a distance basis. Could I have decided to, if even temporarily, set my career path in another direction with different challenges & benefits? Yes - any sane person would, says my wife. The fact that Jeff was such a personable & straight-shooting guy didn’t make letting this chance to join his team slip by any easier.

I essentially was chosen for the opportunity to do what most nutrition students & professionals would give their left kidney for. But I chose to stick with what I’m doing now…and this was an awakening moment for me. I discovered a few things that I haven’t yet taken completely to heart: 1) I love what do, apparently to an insane degree. 2) I’m very persistent about disallowing the most attractive offers to distract me from following through with the personal vision I’ve set out to accomplish – and am currently accomplishing. 3) If point #2 wasn’t in place, then point #1 might not be the case.

Now, I have to qualify & somewhat disclaim what I just said by emphasizing that most people should be open to various paths within a given career – especially when you’re just starting out, or if you’re not completely stoked about your current position. It’s not like I was offered a position in a completely unrelated field. It’s just that in a large sense, I’ve been there & done that. Now I place a super-high premium on working from my home computer and being geographically close  to my wife & kids year-round. This is what makes me happy, and this is what I’ve worked endlessly to achieve over the last 18 years.

I believe that the best of my career is yet to come, and every day is its own adventure as I graduate to each new level of self-actualization. I want to encourage any of you who’s been in a similar position to not harbor any regrets about walking away from incredible opportunities that don’t fit your original vision.

Oh yeah, happy Halloween weekend, everyone. Just remember that sugar is baaaad, mmmmkay?

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44 Responses leave one →
  1. Redlefty permalink
    October 30, 2010

    Dude, sugar’s not bad in the super-anabolic PWO window! I just did two sets of military press; time for some candy corn.

    Oh and I feel you on the career thing. Have already left one fast-track job with stock options, and will probably do it again someday. Rock on with your oddly-jibbed self.

  2. October 30, 2010

    You made the right choice, Alan. Nothing beats sleeping in every day, working in your underwear & taking occasional breaks to troll forums.

    Then again…there’s a few drawbacks:

    http://theoatmeal.com/comics/working_home

  3. October 31, 2010

    Martin — That was fugging hilarious.

    Red — I figured you might have run into a similar type of juncture. But then again, I’m just figuring you & your wife are cut from the same cloth…perhaps I’m being too assumptive? :)

  4. October 31, 2010

    Nice one Alan.

    The thing to take away from this also is the pure fact that such an incredible opportunity popped up for you is a verification of how good you are at what you do and also should give you the confidence that similiar opportunities (that fit better with your vision) will also come along in the future.

    I’ll say this though. Turning down a very good offer to continue down a particular path is admirable, but at the same time people should not be afraid to get out of their comfort zone and do different things which might feel uncomfortable or be a pain in the ass in the short turn, but will ultimately be great for the long term. I know you made your decision taking into account where you want to take your career which sounds as if it is the best decision for you, but just wanted to mention that in case some people took your advice as an excuse not to push through their comfort zone and take a different path :)

    Good to know things are going well for you though mate, keep up the good work :)

    Daniel

  5. Karla permalink
    October 31, 2010

    So glad to hear you are sticking around and hanging with us nobodys here on the interwebz. :) It is a major part of my life betting on the day that you actually release AARR. I won the pot 2 months ago.

    Seriously Alan. You already know you did the right thing but it does feel awesome to know that there are other paths available.

  6. Jeanne permalink
    October 31, 2010

    I agree with what Daniel said above about how getting out of your comfort zone is not a bad thing. I also want to add that taking a job doesn’t mean you have to do it forever. I think you could have accepted the Kings job for one season, just to have that experience. If we stop experiencing new things, then we stop growing. Just my 2 cents.

  7. October 31, 2010

    I couldn’t agree more! I’ve recently (and finally) taken hold of my own dreams and am beginning to mold and shape my life according to what fits. Part of that is getting off the road and working from home — ’cause it matters.

    And, I didn’t see anything thing in your post that suggests we stay still and opt out of challenge, experience, and confronting our fears. In fact, I think your decision to stay where you are was not only brave, but mature and selfless as well. I know your family will be stronger and happier as a result.

    Yes, creating the authentic version of your life is brilliant. But it’s not always about us. I believe that every decision must be built into the whole. Sometimes accepting fabulous opportunities is more about weakness that strength. Well done. You’re my hero!

    Cheers!

  8. Mike permalink
    October 31, 2010

    “I want to encourage any of you who’s been in a similar position to not harbor any regrets about walking away from incredible opportunities that don’t fit your original vision.”

    ^ Best line in the whole thing. Glad you’re sticking around man.

  9. October 31, 2010

    Been there, Alan. I know what courage it took to walk away from that position, since you do have a wife and children depending on you. I’ve been in a similar spot.

    I still have moments (usually when I am tired and, consequently, in a more negative mindset) where I think, “Was I stupid?!”

    I go to bed, wake up and feel lots better about my choices and my future.

    Best of luck to you. Your children are lucky to have you home!

  10. October 31, 2010

    Kathleen — That’s great how you can look back on certain big decisions and know you did the right thing for yourself & your family. What have you turned down that has given you some doubts?

    Janet — Thanks for the kind words. I did feel pretty brave as I made the decision. And interestingly, it wasn’t one I had to think over much.

    Jeanne & Daniel — While it’s true being the dedicated/exclusive/in-house nutritionist for a professional team would have been an interesting experience (& something any fledgling professional in the field should have jumped at), I’ve already had plenty of experience with professional athletes without the travel. I just can’t say that this instance was something that compelled me to step outside of my flow, regardless of the pay. Even if I was offered oodles of money to be the traveling masseur of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for a single season, I’d probably turn it down. I believe that stepping out of your comfort zone has to be for the right reasons, and this will vary across individual situations. My current situation is having a growing subscribership for my research review, a solid position at Men’s Health, and a dedicated stable of clients. Oh yes, and an aging book that still has enough mojo for people benefit from.

    Mike & Karla — Can I get a “yeah buddy”

  11. Karla permalink
    October 31, 2010

    Alan said, “Even if i was offered oodles of montey to be the traveling masseuse of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders for a single season, I’d probably turn it down.”

    I call Bullshit to this statement. LOL!!

    Yeah buddy!

  12. October 31, 2010

    I just edited masseuse to say masseur, so… :)

  13. October 31, 2010

    Sounds awesome.

    I hope I’m my own boss in 10 years (or less!).

  14. October 31, 2010

    Hey Alan,
    I was an editor at PDR and got laid off in early 2009. A couple months later, I was VERY close to getting a job at a pharmaceutical ad agency. But a lot of things didn’t “feel right” and I had some doubts. So I asked for more money than they were willing to pay. And they got annoyed or offended and shut the door.

    These days I have a new mission. I also don’t trust corporations. (I thought I was safe. So did a LOT of people who got laid off.) I have some tight times and when I’m stressing about bills/rent and taking care of my daughter, I wrestle with misgivings. But then I go to sleep and feel better.

    Warm wishes to you and your family!

  15. October 31, 2010

    Here’s to not living your parents’ life, Alan. Way to cut your own jib!

  16. Donald Lee permalink
    October 31, 2010

    Alan,

    It’s ‘massage therapist’, not ‘masseur’ or ‘masseuse’.

    And, you’ve got it good. I’ve got potentially 11+ years of schooling to go because I’m changing career paths and am eyeing becoming an MD/PhD. Every so often when things get tough, I keep on wondering whether it’s worth it and whether I should just go full-time into the fitness industry, nutrition, or massage therapy.

    The ‘easy’ way out is very tempting…but I’ve gone the route of being ‘that guy’ who racks up degrees and certificates.

    On a more positive note, I’ve found that as a new personal trainer with few clients, I have a lot of idle (but still paid) time at work where I can read AARR.

  17. Jean Paulo permalink
    October 31, 2010

    Very inspiring Alan! I wish I can be like you when I grow up ;)

    IMO, you made the right choice. Just like what you said, it’s not all about money but the self-fulfillment you can achieve by picking the choice that your bro heart truly desires. Just like what Martin said, nothing beats a job where you can wear your underwear all day long lmao! I’m happy for you Alan! Keep up the good work!

  18. PolyisTCOandbanned permalink
    November 1, 2010

    slim ShawneyJ down…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZwcqsa8AXs&feature=player_embedded

  19. Yi-Ming Law permalink
    November 1, 2010

    As a nutrition student interested in pursuing a career in sports nutrition, I am one of those who is willing to give a kidney (or 2) for an opportunity like that. A lot of respect to you for you making that decision- do you think when your kids are grown up you’ll consider something full-time like the offer that was at hand?

    I want to work as a sports dietitian for the Eagles. I got a long way to go!

  20. November 1, 2010

    Yi-Ming Law — By the time my kids are all grown up, I’ll probably hit Richard Simmons status where I host party cruises for the patrons of my products. So, traveling with a team & actually doing work might be out of the question at that point.

    Poly — Send her over, but let her know there’s a wait.

    Jean Paulo — That’s so true that it’s not all about the money. There’s only so much thrill you can get out of material things once your basic & recreational expenses are covered. And the gratification is so short-lived.

    Donald — I agree that the traditional way (advanced degrees, employment by a large firm, etc) is, at least from my perspective, the ‘easy’ way out. What’s trickier but more rewarding for me has been to custom-build an entrepreneurial path.

  21. Peter permalink
    November 1, 2010

    Today was my first day at a new job, having recently ended my first “real” job out of school, which consisted of roughly two years of agony. I’m glad I read your blog post today, it was inspiring after a long day. I certainly envy you – both your spot in life and BF%. Perhaps with time (and rereads of Girth Control), I will be able to match both…

  22. Redlefty permalink
    November 2, 2010

    Alan, your assumptions about my wife and I are correct. We totally love furry parties.

    Wait, nevermind, you were talking about the “life goals” thing. Yeah, we agree with that too!

    The last couple of years have been borderline for me, getting almost to the point where I have to say no and do something else. But I’ve been okay with sticking to it, and the money has given us some more flexibility on what work I choose to take on for the next few years.

    Besides, I want to be awesome, and you can’t be awesome at something you hate. No matter how much it pays. Just ask Albert Haynesworth.

  23. Emily permalink
    November 2, 2010

    I LOVE the fact that you prioritize family… :) I think that’s really rare these days. If you don’t have your life at home “right,” I don’t think anything else really matters.

  24. November 2, 2010

    Emily — It’s very easy for me to prioritize my family because I enjoy being with them so much. My 2 boys are 4 & 6, and they are like cute, rowdy puppies who can crack jokes. My wife is awesome in all aspects.

    Red — Zing @ the furry response :)… And yes, Haynesworth has been granted some major bucks to compliment his major issues (SMH).

    Peter — What job you doin’? Glad this post gave you some food for thought.

  25. Alex Starks permalink
    November 4, 2010

    I’m happy to hear that you made a good decision for you and your family! I’m even happier due to purely selfish reasons because you won’t be taken away from AARR, this blog and kicking ass on the forums.

    This gave me a lot of food for thought as I’m getting deep into my degrees (nutrition science and biochem) and it helps to keep things in perspective!!

  26. November 4, 2010

    Great post, Alan.

    And Martin: That was funny! :D

  27. November 4, 2010

    Alan,

    Great post. I’m in the same boat as you but not as far along…trying to build my own custom entreprenurial path and to be able to work from home and for myself rather than corporate America. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting closer.

    My wife likes the stability/benefits of working for a large firm but I personally like the freedom to follow my own path rather than a path that someone else lays out for me. It is much more fulfilling

  28. November 4, 2010

    James — Wives and their financial stability fetish, I tell ya. When the big bucks are waved in front of you, the fetish comes out! I totally am with you on the entrepreneurial route. The intrinsic rewards are in a different realm entirely from the rewards I got working for a big firm. But then again, individual preferences will vary. All said, I’m confident that you’ll be eventually co-hosting the party cruises with me.

    Fredrik — Thanks for reading my stuff. And Martin is a riot, yes he is.

    Alex — It’s undoubtedly a different perspective than what you’ll typically run into in this industry filled with guys who grab at any chance they can of working with the pros, and hammering that point as often as they can to the buying public. But once you’ve done it enough, you realize that it’s great, but far from the final frontier. My whole paradigm of career success has gone progressively further from prestige and closer to what gets me personal satisfaction.

  29. November 8, 2010

    Just spill it Alan: they wanted you to push low-fructose paleo, filled with “good” and “bad” foods for their athletes, closely aligned with their blood type, zodiac, Personality type, and wardrobe colors.

    They wanted you to be a Los Angeles-area Loliquin, amirite?

  30. November 8, 2010

    Skyler — Haha, me & my stubbornness. Imagine the heights I could reach if I’d only get in touch with my inner wackjob.

  31. November 9, 2010

    James; I’m sure you will succeed, you really know your stuff and I love your writing.
    I have to say though, that going to a subscription model already might be a little early, I think you might be bether off building up your visitor base first..

  32. November 9, 2010

    Hey, Fredrik,

    I’ve actually got a pretty good feed subscriber base so I’m not too worried about being a bit too early. I just can’t justify continuing to write so much for free, particularly when I actually have a full time job outside of my website. It takes a fair amount of time to write each one of those articles.

  33. November 11, 2010

    Okey, that’s understandable.
    I will definitely be subscribing :-)

  34. Jason permalink
    November 12, 2010

    I apologize that this question is not related to the blog post, Alan.

    From my observation you work a lot, so I’m wondering if you have any free time to socialize and relax? All the work you do seems very taxing, are you maintaining your sanity? ;)

    I love your work, Alan. Keep going strong.

    Regards,
    Jason

  35. Eric permalink
    November 12, 2010

    Nice, Congrats. Truth is you’re just an awesome cat. A true professional and I know first hand how helpful you are without being all “look at me I’m helping”.

    I do envy you on being able to see your kids grow up all while wearing that sexy new line if clothes.

    I just gotta figure out how to be a good elementary teacher from afar…

  36. November 16, 2010

    Eric — Thanks for the kind words, man. I really appreciate that.

    Jason — It kinda goes in waves, usually as I push to finish the AARR, that part of the month is insane. One day I’ll get better at paciong myself. A big step in the right direction for me was bringing my in-person work down to 1 day a week, this gives me more flexibility to write & be with the family. Glad you like the material!

  37. Joe permalink
    November 30, 2010

    What’s so great about Tom Venuto? Sure, his book is probably much better than other mainstream books out there, but it isn’t spectacular. I don’t like the way the book promises to reveal some major secrets to you that will change your life forever. Like the part on calorie/carb cycling.

    I just can’t respect him when his sales page is an infomercial which looks exactly the same as the sales page of any other fitness book which is actually a scam. And as I said above, it portrays his book as if it will reveal “secrets”.

    Unlike Lyle’s sales page for example which just tells you what’s in the book and perhaps has one testimonial (for the UD 2.0 book).

  38. Joe permalink
    November 30, 2010

    Oh looks like I commented on the wrong blog post :S sorry!

  39. November 30, 2010

    Joe — Have you read The Bodyfat Solution? Tom caters to the mainstream, and he does it effectively. THAT’s the point. If you’re not impressed by Tom’s stuff, then that’s fine, but that wasn’t the point I was making. Lyle & Tom have different target audiences – particularly when speaking of Tom’s mainstream book.

  40. Markus permalink
    January 2, 2011

    Alan,

    Love your blog, man. It’s the broom I use to sweep out the broscience of the internetz.

    Can you please do an analysis of the Biotest MAG-10 Pulse Fast?

    Allegedly, you can lose fat/gain muscle (duh!) if you slam 400 mL of casein hydrolysate 5x a day (over 24 to 36 hours) and throw in some alpha-GPC and L-Tyrosine.

    I bet it’s just a slight water loss effect resulting in looking tighter (if it happens at all). But this broscience needs to be shepherded. Please consider it!

    Thanks and happy new year!

  41. January 2, 2011

    Hey Markus — Glad you like the blog. I won’t be putting in another entry until after the next AARR issue, so I might do a quick pop-in update just to let people know I’m alive. As for the Mag-10 Pulse fast, it simply looks to me like a “Buy Biotest supps instead of food’ ploy. My hope is that people can see the hustle for what it is (typical supplement company hype), and take it with a grain of salt. I feel like I’ve leveled enough criticism toward T-mag for the time being. I don’t want to appear that I have a personal vendetta against them, because I don’t. All broscience deserves equal opportunity criticism. There’s plenty out there, I’ll probably touch upon some other stuff before hitting up T-mag, unless they really go out of their way to provoke it. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the feedback, and feel free to drop in with topic suggestions whenever they occur to you.

  42. February 5, 2011

    James , I guess admitting the fact that the “caloric bank account model ” of obesity is not valid , and there are vast unknowns and uncertainties in obesity research , is bad for your business, huh?

  43. Don permalink
    May 15, 2011

    Hi Alan,

    I stumbled onto your site from BB.com. You have a new fan/follower. I must say I love the articles that I have read thus far but this one…..really spoke to me a my current perspective. I have been working to eventually leave corporate america and discover my entrepreneurial side. I have been back and forth deciding on whether I should take this path for a couple of years now. Your article helped me in validating what I think is most important in making this decision. I recently received an exceptional offer from the Feds that I took to get out of the corporate rat race. I am not sure that this is the final career path for me….but one thing I do know from articles like this is that I can use this experience as a stepping stone to get to where I want to be…which is on a custom entrepreneurial path. I did not turn dwn a opportunity like you did as to no two lives are the same.

    I am convinced that the decision I made is right for now…but as one of your readers commented best… “taking a job doesn’t mean you have to do it forever.” As long as I am focused on my main goal….all things will fall in place in due time. My path is to remain focus on the end goal while accepting this job opportunity and be patient for when my entrepreneur call arise.

    It seems a lot of folk did not not agree with your decision. I personally think you made the right decision that is best for you and your family at this time…and that is most important criteria to base your decision on. Nothing like following your gut and know you living life according to your own rules.

    Keep up the great work and keep the articles coming!

    -Don

  44. Kris permalink
    May 26, 2013

    Just stumbled across this while poking around re-reading HFCS stuff and I am one of those who would give a kidney for that chance. What an awesome statement about the quality of your work and the level of respect you have within fitness circles. (I know this is an older blog post, but it’s still awesome!) (Although – does the team nutritionist also get a Stanley Cup Ring? ;) )

    On the off chance that you actually see this, since it is quite old – I was also reading your post about paper credentials versus experience and am wondering what you might suggest in the way of a credentials/experience balance for someone who does want a job like the one with the Kings?

    My gut says that since professional sports teams are primarily business ventures, having the paperwork to back up your knowledge might be more important than elsewhere in the industry, since the business people who sign the checks tend to like that kind of thing. But I could be mistaken since it probably also depends a lot on who has most say in hiring decisions – if the coach or S&C person has a lot of freedom to hire whomever they think best, then they may be less interested in the paperwork.

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