Writing a New Chapter

This picture was taken July 27,2018. It was the last time I shut down my computer in the office of what had been my dream job for eighteen years.

Shutting Down this Chapter

Working at CLIF Bar as the lead nutritionist was living my dream. It opened my eyes to opportunities, growth, and community. I could nerd out on nutrition strategy AND run at work with an extended family of friends and adventurers. Those friendships will long outlast my butt in a seat at Clif Bar & Company’s office. After eighteen years, it was time for change.

It is no secret that running is a major priority in my life. When I can’t run I am thinking about when I can run or, what else I can do to get outside and play in the dirt. When I interviewed at CLIF in the year 2000 I was told three things that left me with no doubts that this was the place for me. They saw it too because I did beat out ninety other applicants.

Those three things were:

  1. You can take time out of your work day to run or do another workout
  2. The office is closed between Christmas and New Year as additional paid time off to reset before the New Year.
  3. Every seven years you earn a sabbatical.

Prior to working at CLIF my biggest worry was, ” When can I fit in time to run?” ( know this was before kids, mortgage, etc) That worry relieved freed me to do my best work for years.

I enjoyed not one but, two sabbaticals that gave me time to devote to family, running, and writing. I ran my first 50k, explored with my family, and spent more time outside. Called to write, I also signed on with the Sexy Grammarian, Kristy, who I am still working with four years later!

Returning to an office after the second sabbatical was a struggle. Two older kids and a marriage, accountabilities at home were mounting and time at work was maximized in meetings or at my desk. The stress about “when I would run” snuck back in. What really overwhelmed me now however, was “when would I get to run on dirt or in the mountains?”  CLIF has amazing office spaces and even more amazing culture. The “BUT” here was that time in the outdoors was more a priority than ever before for both me and my family.

I began asking the questions, “Could I work in a different way? Could I work in away that prioritized what I needed to produce my best work?” My then boss asked me a very important question. She said, “Tara, what do you want to do?” Her question was work related but, I chose to answer this more holistically.  What do I want and what impact do I want to have overall and, not just within the walls of an office? How I chose to answer these questions lead me down a path of self-reflection and deep personal work I hadn’t done before with some surprising or not so surprising answers revealed. I want:

  • More outdoor adventures
  • More emotional availability for my kids
  • Daily interaction with outdoorists
  • More impact on people with big outdoor goals
  • More writing
  • More running

Lot’s of “mores” on this list that didn’t correlate with how I was currently working or living.

Today, I am working under a new model that is about integrating work with life more holistically. It required setting priorities that aligned with the impact I want to have and how I need to spend my time. It is exciting, scary, and a lot of work based on values of adventure and well-being. Everything I do is done through this lens so I can show up.

My inspiration has been the numerous professional athletes I have worked with over the years. Their ability to do their sport depends on their well-being. Talk to any outdoor athlete and it is easy to see how they intentionally design a lifestyle to support their value of athleticism and outdoors. Guess what? It isn’t necessary to be a pro athlete to do this. It is necessary to be intentional with a lifestyle.

Three years later brought me to the point in this photo where I could close down this laptop and hand it over with both melancholy for memories and relief. Leaving a good job was difficult. It was a process inclusive of  grief, anger, recovery, resolve, and determination. Now I can begin writing a new chapter.

*The majority of this post was voice recorded from the trail. Please disregard typos.

Posted by TaraDell

Nutrition Strategist and Registered Dietitian with twenty years of experience creating nutrition strategies that influence and inspire people to accomplish big things.

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