From the Get Go: The New Wellness Brand That Starts With Happiness
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. After thinking what to call the site, it came to her the morning. 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 began with happiness. "
SELF spoke with Chang about the inspiration for 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.
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 we can learn from happiness. Once you 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 got 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 looks like, 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 your experiences in the industry for the whole of your 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.
SELF: You are writing about some very personal topics, such as finding your happy weight and your mom freezing your eggs as a birthday present. Do you find it hard to write these kinds of personal posts?
Chang: It's funny because before I became a journalist, in college, I was a creative writing major. When I graduated, I was going to go to J school [journalism school] or get my MFA.
For me, this is tapping into something I haven't done in a long time. I've always been able to do it. When you write that way, creative writing is part of who you are, and when you have done that kind of writing, it's more about exposing emotional truths rather than telling journalist truths. And it's a muscle you have or you don't. Or a personality, a talent, a gift you are able to do or not able to do. And I've always been able to do it.
If you read the post in a book or memoir, you wouldn't think anything of it, but reading it consistently on a site is something we are not used to. Generally digital isn't about thoughtful reflection and reveal. It's supposed to be fast, we want these quick bites. I do too. And some of the posts I write are much more service-oriented. They're a fast grab of happy. But I also think we have the capacity and desire to connect with something in a story in a more meaningful way.
I'm lucky to feel confident about what I have to say and I think it's of value. A lot of women say it's so brave that I'm putting myself out there, and it shouldn't be a brave thing to tell the truth, to say what happened to you, if you think it can help other people move the needle for themselves.
I understand why some people feel a reservation to write about personal things. Because of the internet, it is so out there, anyone can see it. But if someone got to know you, they would eventually know that too. Putting some of these things out there furthers a conversation and makes it OK that you are not sure too. We want to present our best selves. But presenting a more honest, well-rounded self is the more compelling self. People can relate and I think you are more worthy of trust if you don't pretend to have all the answers.
SELF: What is your goal for From the Go?
Chang: The goal is happiness. I created a sustainable, happy lifestyle for myself. In this culture, we talk about sustainability in every way, except how it applies to your own life. You diet until you fall off the wagon, you work hard and play hard. It's a cycle of intense feelings all the time. I want to reframe what success means to us and how we talk about it.
The goal of From the Get Go is to create something for me that makes me happy to do every day. And more broadly, to help people tune into that idea for themselves. We live in this moment of activism. We are all joining movements and that's great, but I'd like to be an advocate to remind yourself that you should be happy. You should find happiness every day, because you deserve it. Have more empathy for yourself and feel less pressure.
Sometimes we need the suggestion to think about things differently. It's not asking ourselves, “Am I happy?” every moment. That's not the point. Happiness isn't a minute-to-minute thing. But at some point in the day, ask yourself, “Do I feel good right now?”
From the Get Go, with one post a day, gives that prompt to take a minute—a pause—for you to tune into something happy. I wanted to give people a toolbox of things to call upon to think about to help you find more happiness and joy on a regular basis. I don't have all the answers—happiness is such a personal thing—but I do have ideas, I have things that worked for me. If I'm having a bad day, I try my own steps, and it works. It gets me through the fog or bad feeling, and by the end of the day, I feel better if I've done that thing.
SELF: What piece of advice do you have? you have to build a new business in your career? 92
Chang: Patience. If you start from the right place and go one step at a time, everything you want will come to you. I'm reminded of it every day because that's what the site is called—that was intentional.
A lot of advice is wrong. It's what we need to re-program out. They say, “Hustle is the secret.” Some people need to hustle, but I never needed anyone to tell me to work harder; I already was. Hustle suggests hurry. A lot of people need to tune in, not just lean in, and move with more purpose, not just get up and go. That's why the motivational genre doesn't work for me. It's why I feel another voice needs to be added to the mix.
I want to help people, especially women, do things differently. I hear that women want to do things differently but we live in a world where that's hard. Things go slow until they go fast. Be comfortable and find happiness and learning throughout the process. That's my own message to myself. I think we need this. I knew a lot, I had so much access, so many resources, but no one ever told me, “Hey, give yourself a break.” I kept trying to improve and do things differently, but not in a way that made me happier. It just gave me another task to do when I already had too many things to do.