Heartfirst Real Talk from Jess.

Knowing When To Quit (A Personal Story)

This article is dedicated to anyone who’s ever had a dream, totally gone for it and failed. It may be true that there’s no such thing as failure, only lessons; but in the moment, when your dreams feel crushed, those words sting more than they are helpful. Especially when pursuing your passion often means that you’ve already taken a risk few will understand and/or support, including those closest to you. It takes courage, tenacity and fierce will to go beyond daydreaming and into the actual building process.  And the more time, effort and heart you pour in, the more you become emotionally and financially invested – so when it all comes crashing down, it can be devastating.

While on the plane to Los Angeles last night, I realized that even though sharing my story still feels a bit painfully raw, my experience might resonate with, inspire and hopefully empower some of you.  So here goes.  My inspiration to launch an indoor cycling studio (a la SoulCycle) came in 2012, when I moved to Paris and noticed there was nothing similar, and that this could positively change lives.  At the time, I was also hard at work on a few music projects and was focused on releasing a personal EP.  Music and fitness have always been connected for me; as a singer-songwriter, I’ve had an on/off “side hustle” as a running coach throughout my entire music career because: 1) sharing my passion with others makes me incredibly happy and 2) having an additional source of income in an unstable career has been important.

photo: Jia Wertz

Fast forward to early 2013, when some major disappointments prompted me to leave my music manager (based in New York), to consciously step back from music, and to be “all in” in bringing the indoor cycling studio to Paris.  I spent three months back in New York studying, became certified to teach in London, located and secured the best out-of-the-box coaching talent in Paris and searched for an ideal space. Over my next two and a half years in Paris, this project (full of highs and lows) consumed me until the mid-July afternoon when I decided to make a change.

Rather than bore you with the details, I’d like to focus on the moment when I decided – without a doubt – that this project was over.  Most of my journey I’d kept private, thankfully, aside from a few vague posts on social media about ‘something coming soon to Paris’. (When my initial co-founder, one of Paris’ most known fitness coaches and bloggers, literally stole my work and was working with another company preparing their launch simultaneously, I learned that being too open and trusting is not always a good thing!) So, sharing the news for me meant telling my investors, closest friends and family.  Some understood and most didn’t, but I didn’t doubt my decision. I knew I needed to step away to re-build myself and that I would ultimately launch something even more meaningful and powerful (even though at the time I wasn’t sure what it would be).

Like you, I’m no quitter. But there’s a tremendous difference between giving up and reaching a point of clarity. Not everyone needs to understand and surely they won’t, so don’t expect them to.  Walking away is so f*cking hard and doing it without support is even harder, but if this is what you feel deep in your gut – trust it. My hope in sharing this with you is to empower – or even just remind you – to give your instinct and self-awareness the credit they deserve.  Leaving something you love because it no longer fulfills you doesn’t mean your journey is over or that you’ve lost – in fact, it’s quite the opposite; freeing yourself from something that continually causes you more harm than good is incredibly liberating.  And when you’re ready to open yourself to new possibilities, new doors will open to you.  I guarantee it.

photo: Jia Wertz

For me, closing this door inspired the launch of NoBubblegum six weeks later and led me to create something even more connective and meaningfully awesome than I could have known a year ago (TBA). Most of us recognize gratitude is an essential key to happiness. Almost as important, I believe, is living in our truth and facing it head on (especially when it’s painfully difficult). You can live the life you dream of; it won’t be easy and it’s not supposed to be, but it’s always worth it.  And you are always worth it.  Trust your journey, trust yourself and never give up on going for what you want.  Even when it changes.


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