“Do things that excite you.” With Beau Henderson & Kaitlin Vogel

Find a job that fulfills you on every level, one that excites you and challenges you to grow. It’s not a coincidence that when you’re doing what you love everything else falls into place. As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the […]

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Find a job that fulfills you on every level, one that excites you and challenges you to grow. It’s not a coincidence that when you’re doing what you love everything else falls into place.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Kaitlin Vogel.

Beyond Kaitlin’s professional background in journalism and psychology, it is her strong commitment to creating empowering content and keen interest in personal development that has driven every one of her career decisions thus far. She is currently a content strategist and ghostwriter for therapists and wellness experts around the world.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

It was actually my third grade teacher, Mrs. Boudart who told me I should pursue writing. I’ve been journaling since I was a kid, and what started out as a hobby, later became a way of life. It was a natural passion of mine that led to a fulfilling career.

How did I know writing was my passion? Well, at the risk of sounding super nerdy, I simply lit up when reading a good book and then spent hours creating my own stories, visualizing the characters and settings in my head. The psychology component came in later on, when I developed a fascination for human behavior and learning more about why people think, feel and act the way they do. When I went to college I majored in both journalism and psychology knowing I wanted to be a writer or a therapist.

I decided to be a writer because I wanted to inspire others to live their best lives and reach a large audience. I’m committed to creating content that matters. My goal is for readers to walk away feeling empowered and motivated in all areas: health, career, relationships, and whatever area in which they are seeking self-improvement.

My current full-time job is ghostwriting for therapists and health experts. Everyone asks me, “don’t you care that you aren’t getting credit?” but I don’t see it that way. I didn’t go into this field expecting fame, I just want to help — even if that means I’m behind the scenes.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

This is the story that actually led me down the ghostwriting path. Early in my writing career, I wrote an article, “How to Let Go of Someone You Love,” which ended up reaching 1 million page views and ranked first in Google search. Reader comments started pouring in and part of my job became responding to questions every morning. And it turned out to be my favorite part of the job. It was like having my own advice column. I loved it.

My boss saw that readers responded to my voice and asked if I would write articles for her. And so, my career as a ghostwriter officially began. In the years that followed, I was referred to different therapists and health experts.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

It would have to be when I interviewed Donna Karan about her company the Urban Zen Foundation. Needless to say, I was so nervous before the interview since it’s not every day you get to sit down and chat with a celebrity.

When I entered the room I felt like I walked on to a movie set. There were cameramen, publicists, event coordinators and it was one of those movie moments where I felt like everything was moving in slow motion and I could hear my heart beating out of my chest. Thankfully, Donna put me at ease immediately when she complimented my outfit — which, of course, I put a lot of thought into.

The interview went smoothly until my microphone stopped working halfway through. There was a room full of people watching as a videographer came over to fix my wires that were all tangled. To make matters worse, we were on a tight schedule so for the rest of the interview, I had to totally wing it. But, in the end, it actually worked out better since the incident made us both laugh. It turned into a very natural conversation, rather than a traditional Q&A.

This experience taught me it’s okay if you don’t always have it all together. Everyone makes mistakes, and you’re actually more likeable when you do. Plus, it’s those types of moments that make for the best stories.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My mentor Jeremy Goldman has been instrumental in my career success. He was my first boss, when I was an intern straight out of college. Jeremy believed in my talent and helped me develop my voice as a writer. He has always been there for me — from when I was 22 and published my first article to today when I go to him for business development advice about my new company, Maybe It’s Just Me.

Along with being my first boss, he was actually the one who recommended me for what turned out to be my dream job at Rewire Me. At the time, it was a startup health and wellness company and I ended up working there for five years going from Editorial Assistant to Senior Editor. It was an incredible experience to be able to grow with the company.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Find a job that fulfills you on every level, one that excites you and challenges you to grow. It’s not a coincidence that when you’re doing what you love everything else falls into place.

Also, write what you love and write what you know. Your passion will always shine through. I don’t just write articles that will help increase your self-awareness, but I truly live and breathe everything I advise readers to do.

In my free time, I’m reading Eckhart Tolle books and listening to Brene Brown podcasts. Even though researching and writing is my full-time job, I seriously can’t get enough of mental wellness and psychology. I’m that person who is always sharing random “did you know…” facts at the dinner table.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Be transparent. As a leader, transparency is key to building trust, and to build trust you need to let yourself be seen. It’s simply a matter of finding the right way to engage with people.

Communicate openly and communicate often. This gives others the permission to do the same. To bring out the best in your team, create a safe space where they feel comfortable collaborating and sharing ideas.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.

First, develop self-care habits. When life gets busy and we neglect self-care, we have less energy, less confidence, more stress, and the list goes on. Before I get out of bed in the morning, I meditate for 20 minutes. This helps get my mind centered and sets a positive tone for the day ahead. After meditation, I go for a run to get energized. In fact, studies show you make better decisions throughout the day after morning workouts.

Second, take care of your body. The mind and body are inherently linked, and one of the fastest ways to improve your mental state is to improve your physical state. Get enough sleep, exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet. The food-mood connection is real! Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains — all of which are scientifically proven to promote mental wellness.

Third, do a digital detox. Many people hide behind technology because they’re uncomfortable with down time. Time alone with their thoughts. Time to face things they don’t want to face. The sad truth is our society is addicted to busyness, and this pandemic has been a huge wake up call for people. It’s forced all of us to slow down, take a step back and self-reflect. And the only way to truly self-reflect is to unplug for a while. It may feel uncomfortable at first, especially if you’re the type of person who is glued to your devices — but trust me, over time, you will feel calmer and more at peace. You can start small by waiting until work starts to check emails, or schedule time each day to check social media.

The fourth step is to practice gratitude. As you get older, you learn that life can go from 100 to 0 in an instant. One moment you’re on the top of the world, and the next you’re on a downward spiral. In those downward spiral moments, you wonder why happiness is always fleeting. Here’s what’s actually happening: when we feel disappointed or frustrated it’s because we feel like we’ve lost control. We feel powerless, as if life is happening to us, and we are the victims of our circumstances. When we feel like we’ve lost control, being grateful feels impossible. But the good news is gratitude comes naturally through enduring life’s hardships and overcoming obstacles — so all you have to do is think about how far you’ve come and all the battles you’ve already won. This will transform your perspective and help you appreciate where you are today.

The last and most important step is to live in the present. Don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future. Accept where you are. Even if you’re anxious or stressed, know it will pass. But don’t ignore negative feelings or try to suppress them. Give yourself permission to feel what you need to feel, and then let it go. This builds resilience, which is the key to optimize your mental wellness.

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

After retirement, it’s crucial for people to maintain a sense of purpose. Having a sense of purpose is what will keep you mentally and physically strong. Make sure you continue to stay in command of your life by participating in the community and family. Purpose has been proven in multiple studies as the key to staying vibrant and relevant to the greater world.

Also, continue to do the things you enjoy, and don’t let age stop you from following your passions and achieving your goals.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

For teens and pre-teens, make sure you are getting enough sleep. Many teens don’t prioritize a good night’s rest, but quality of sleep directly impacts mood. Also, find positive outlets to express your feelings. The majority of stress for teens is learning how to deal with hormones and navigate complex emotions. Journaling before bed is a great way to bring clarity to your thoughts and feelings. Another effective technique is to try limiting your social media exposure. Even though most teens are connected to their phones 24/7, it’s a common trigger for anxiety and mood swings.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle changed my life. I’ve read it five times, and each time I learn something new. I love the way he weaves psychology and spirituality together, taking complex concepts and breaking them down into easy-to-understand takeaway tips.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

It would be “Disconnect to Reconnect.” Disconnect from your devices, disconnect from your hectic schedule and disconnect from anyone who drains your energy. Reconnect with yourself, figure out who you are and what you want on a deep level. Slow down and take time for self-reflection. Reflect on how you can contribute to the world in a more meaningful way.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“The soul should always stand ajar; ready to welcome the next ecstatic experience” — Emily Dickinson

This is a beautiful way of saying let go of expectations and embrace the unknown. Work with what life offers rather than trying to control it.

Looking back on my life experiences, I realize all the challenges turned out to be blessings in disguise. At the time I just didn’t realize it. The bottom line is everything worked out better than I planned. So, trust the timing of your life and believe that you are exactly where you are meant to be. Start getting excited about what’s coming next. Plus, if you knew how everything was going to turn out, where’s the fun in that?

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow me on Instagram @maybeitsjustme.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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