In a world where we often feel pressured to put our best self forward at all times, launching a new site that's not 100-percent polished is ballsy to many and unthinkable to others.
But the new wellness brand From the Get Go is intentionally a work in progress.
“I wanted people to be part of the process,” explains founder Joyce Chang, the former editor in chief of SELF. “People have a lot of questions and curiosity about starting things up. I want to show what a start-up actually looks like—the highs, the lows, the challenges, the setbacks, the good days, the bad days. Part of the message is, 'It doesn't have to be perfect in order for it to be out there and be of value.' From the Get Go is an imperfect exercise, but we all are an imperfect exercise. It's an ongoing process.”
For Chang, the process started while taking a year off to be happy. She then decided to launch a site to help other high-achieving women find their own happiness. After thinking what to call the site, it came to her one morning.
“I woke up, sat up straight in bed, and it came to me: From the Get Go,” she says. “The name spoke to the idea of a fresh start. If you start the day right, you end the day feeling good. I wanted the name to speak to the intention of what I was doing. From the get go, this was about something purposeful to me that started with happiness.”
SELF spoke with Chang about the inspiration for From the Get Go, the need for more voices in the wellness space, and how to find sustainable happiness. The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
SELF: You write about taking a year off to find what makes you happy. What about that experience led you to start From the Get Go and what learnings from that time are you hoping to share with other women?
Chang: I didn't take a year off to find what makes me happy. I took time off to be happy. You don't need to go somewhere seeking happiness. Sometimes we seek so hard, it becomes very goal-oriented. That's not the point of happiness. Happiness is around us all the time. The time I took was to be open to what was around me. Being happy begets more happiness. We underestimate what can learn from happiness. Once know what it feels like to be happy and free, it's really hard to go back to not living that way.
When I traveled, I came back and my friends all said, “I want what you have but I don't want to leave my job.” You don't have to do a radical thing to access sustainable, continued happiness. I was able to take time off so I could think about happiness differently. With From the Get Go, I am the guinea pig and I share why it worked.
We live in this chaotic world and happiness feels more elusive than we want it to be. We think if we see this guru, take this supplement, do this workout, we will be transformed. But only when that's combined with pragmatic, fact-based stuff. I try to give surprise things to do that wouldn't have thought of before because novelty can create joy, and stuff your mom told you or your grandmother told you that reminds you it's not all novelty. The tried and true things that are common sense.
I was brought up in a very traditional Chinese household. The things my grandma taught me and mom said, they have stood the test of time. They are the foundation of who I am. Being your authentic self is key to happiness. We have so much going on in our lives and so many goals and messages of what success looks like, we have lost touch with who we are.
SELF: Why did you feel it was important to create this brand for women?
Chang: We are not very nice to ourselves. We are our own worst critics, we are so judgmental of ourselves. We see things no one else sees. We compare ourselves endlessly. We are totally in our heads. I get it too. I've done it all my life. I wanted to be intentional about living differently and show that if I can do it, anyone can do it.
I've been a perfectionist and overachiever all my life. I think a lot of women relate to this idea of being a perfectionist and overachiever. And they derive satisfaction from it, but actually it doesn't make us happy. And it's a process. There is no magic wand to make you not care what others think anymore. I want to show women thorough my own experience that if you do it, it gets easier, and there are things that work. I want to give a road map and tools and suggestions to incorporate into their own lives.
SELF: What have you learned about wellness from your experiences working in the industry for your entire career?
Chang: The most important thing I've learned is that a healthy mind is a healthy body. And movement is so important, for the physical self but also in terms of creativity. We are so stressed, so tight, we can become tight in our mindset as well. I get some of my best ideas after yoga, without fail. Something opens up and something comes to me. When I'm not in a great headspace and I move, I do a workout, I take a walk, it helps me move past some of the negative energy.
When we don't move, we hold on to all sorts of junk. It gives us aches, pains, fatigue! We should move more and overthink less. When I go to yoga, I think about stuff, but I think about it differently than if I'm trying to bear down in front of the laptop. Or if I run, I think about stuff but how it takes shape is different. As you move your body, your give your mind a bit of rest, and our minds are always working overtimes these days. Our minds need a break. During that time of movement, the brain gets a break.
SELF: How do you feel From the Get Go is different from other wellness brands?
Chang: It's really personal. I don't think there's anything as personal as what I'm doing. I've had a big career, I worked my way up from assistant to the editor in chief to being editor in chief. I've seen and done a lot. I'm a first generation of Asian American immigrants—I get what it's like to feel other.
I'm confident my voice is my own. There is so much in wellness that is trends. My goal isn't to surface every trend. I'm about telling what's true to me. Everything I talk about is identifiably direct first experience. I have done this, this is what happened, and this is my interpretation. You know me and what I've done because I have this career you can Google. There is no question about, “Where does this come from, who is saying this?” This is me. My purpose is unique to what I think is a helpful experience. It's something I wish I'd had but couldn't find.