From Physicist to Life Coach: My Unlikely Transition

One year ago I had to make a decision. It was not easy. I was on a stable career path to sustain a family. High school, undergraduate degree, PhD program in hard science research leading to a post-doc or two, followed by either a professorship or research position at a company. It was a simple, pretty guaranteed path that allowed my biggest goal in life to come to fruition at some point in the future.

Not only was I in a stable career, but physics is fun! Penetrating the depths of logic to discover insights into the unknowable universe is a rush. Getting paid to think about the truths of the world is easy. I’m not saying physics and astronomy is easy. Physics is hard, stressful, nerve-racking and at times soul-crushing, but boy is it a rush when the laws of the universe all come together and you bring something new to the academic world.

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Despite a straightforward path with financial security, I was not entirely happy. Upon months of reflection and inner conflict, my dad asked me, “What do you do to help people?”

The response was always so simple. “I come up with new ways to think about the world! I allow people to understand things that they didn’t know about before. I test ideas and see if they are right. I study intellectuals and use their knowledge to make the world a better place.”

He asked again, “No. How do you help people?”

“I … don’t.”

I’ve been studying and working with people my whole life in various capacities and one of my core values is to provide more value to others than I do myself. When I realized that I did not think that I actually provided value to others, my model of the world shattered. Suddenly life as I knew it had very little meaning and purpose. My research interests were General Relativity and Quantum Electrodynamics. This doesn’t actually do anything productive in the world. If nobody studies these abstract ideas, then the world does not practically change.

Einstein-formal_portrait-35Albert Einstein was a great thinker that revolutionized humanity’s understanding of the laws of nature. He changed the standard model of the universe by using one principle:

Everything should be as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Using this as a guiding core principle, he took Newton’s laws of motion and gravitation, Maxwell’s laws of electrodynamics, and Special Relativity and thought that they could be simpler. The discovery he made as a result is incredibly profound. All of these equations can be described in one set of sixteen coupled equations equal to zero. He derived this relationship in 1916. It is the longest surviving physical theory in existence. The more amazing thing is that every year since its discovery, it has been proven more and more right!

In my opinion, the most terrifying thing about this theory is that if it were not discovered, the world would practically be unchanged. This theory breaches the outer bounds of human intellect to describe the behavior of things that humans will never be able to directly observe. Under direct observations, the laws all reduce to Newton’s laws of motion. This theory does nothing to change the lives of people living day to day.

Neither did I.

It is a well known principle in business that people pay for value. People pay money for perceived value. This is ultimately capitalism at its finest: trading pieces of paper that have a perceived value in society for something of equal (or more) value. Value is determined by the perceived importance of a particular product or service. People support themselves by providing value to others.

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Herein laid my inner conflict: The belief that my financially stable career path did not provide any value to society on a practical level. 

This led to my true research obsession: “How are the laws of General Relativity and Quantum Electrodynamics unified in a way that benefits everyday people like you and me?” When obsessions take over, anything is possible.

I studied both neuroscience and psychology for months. I found articles and papers by the world’s leading intellectuals and came up with a thought that allowed me to break through my inner conflict and finally make a difference to the world.

Physicists get paid to find solutions to problems that you didn’t know you had in ways that you won’t understand.

I would rather be paid to help you find solutions to problems that you do know you have in ways that you will understand and from which you can thrive. 

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I immediately sought for ways to help make people’s lives better. I’ve spent years looking for and finding solutions to arguably unsolvable problems. Now I search for solutions that will help you succeed in life. I learned hundreds of techniques through an intensive coaching certification program to streamline ideas and find ways to help you get results.

When people ask me what I do now, I reply, “I’m an astrophysicist turned life coach.” Their replies are usually the same. A look of confusion with some doubt and a puzzled, “Those don’t really go together.”

But they do. After years of understanding the laws of nature and leading people to accomplish incredible things, I have taken all of my experiences and focused them into providing real value that you can apply in your life today. Life coaching was the clearest and most straightforward decision I have ever made. Not a day goes by that I regret it.

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