This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know! Today’s interview is with Kristl Yuen, a fellow member of the Female Entrepreneur Association. Not only does Kristl run a successful acupuncture clinic, but she also works with other business owners to reduce debt and reach their financial goals.
At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?
Believe it or not, I've wanted to be an acupuncturist since I was 7, after I received treatment for the first time. I'd struggled with respiratory issues and frequent colds as a child and acupuncture and herbal medicine were the only things that helped. I wanted to help people feel better the way that it had helped me feel better.
What are the biggest struggles you've faced while trying to achieve your dreams?
Practically, the biggest struggle is that we didn't get great business training in school, so there's been a huge learning curve there. Emotionally, I've had to learn not to compare myself to others and not to worry about their opinion of me, of what I'm doing, or of how I'm running my business.
Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?
I am a huge proponent of self care! My partner and I cook all of our own meals and do our best to eat only whole, non-processed foods, and very little sugar. I also receive acupuncture, Chinese herbs, massage therapy, and chiropractic care on a monthly basis. As far as rituals, I make sure to meditate, read, and walk to the lake every day and my partner and I write down the things for which we are grateful every day before bed. I'm excited to go through our gratitude jar at the end of the year!
Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?
I see rejection and failure as educational opportunities, as well as signs that there's probably something better down the road that I may not be quite ready for. When you stop living in a place of victimhood and start to see the universe as acting in your favor, even rejections and failures can be positive, as you have the power to change things.
What do you do when you're having an off day- maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?
I usually retreat for a bit and take some time to myself. I'm also a huge fan of getting out and getting moving. I find that when I connect with nature and connect with my body that my mind gets a lot clearer. Often, this is just taking a walk around the block, but it could also be going to yoga, going for a bike ride, hugging a tree, etc.
What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?
That it's woo woo and requires very little education. To become a Chinese medicine practitioner you need to go to school for four years and get training in both eastern and western medical theory, nutrition, Chinese herbs, and acupuncture points, to name a few. It's incredibly intense.
What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
It's cliche, but you have to be true to yourself. Act in honor and integrity and don't do things just because other people are doing them. Do what feels best in your heart.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow a path similar to what you have?
Just start. You can research and try to find the "best" program for you, but really you just need to start. Pick something. Do something. When Gloria Steinem turned 80 she was asked if she had any regrets and she responded, "Actually, it's not so much what I would have done differently; it's that I would have done it much faster." This hits so close to home, as I've had countless times in my life in which I researched and waffled and asked advice and when I finally took action I felt a huge relief and wished I'd done it sooner. So, just start. Don't be afraid to ask for help. You'll figure it out.
When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?
When I'm taking care of myself and standing my power. I find that this is easiest when I'm really taking care of myself - meditating, walking, eating clean food, making time for me.
What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?
I love everything Tiffany Han does. I also recently read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks and really enjoyed it. Anything about the Law of Attraction and the power of a positive mindset, really. I do my best to foster positivity and intentionality as much as possible.
Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.
My favorite accomplishment was moving into my very own storefront clinic last summer. Up until that point I had rented from other acupuncturists and it felt like such a huge step forward to have my very own clinic. There are some days I look around and can hardly believe that it's mine!
What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?
Well, I recently decided to focus all my energy on paying off my student loans. Most people don't know that acupuncturists frequently graduate with over $100,000 of student loan debt. In February I decided I'd had enough and started a blog at www.debtfreeacupuncturist.com, documenting my journey with paying off my debt. It has struck a chord! I've gotten so much positive feedback, from non-acupuncturists and acupuncturists alike. People don't like to talk about their debt, so the fact that I've started the conversation and am being open, honest, and transparent has been really well-received. I am really excited to see where this leads!
Kristl Yuen, L.Ac., MSTOM, Dipl. O.M. owns a successful acupuncture clinic in Chicago, IL. In her practice, she focuses on partnering with her patients on their wellness paths using acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, Reiki, nutritional counseling and supplements, cupping, and other accessory techniques. She also has recently started to work with other acupuncturists on cultivating wealth consciousness and a positive money mindset. She enjoys cooking, singing, dancing, and spending evenings at home reading with her partner, Rachel, and their dog, Bradley, and cat, Delilah.