Dive In to…the Water Cooler?

by Nicole Hodson, Executive Director, NANP

So, here we are in early January – no other time of year brings such an exciting promise for a bright future. It’s a time to hit the reset button, reinvigorate yourself, take on new challenges, and start anew.

Some of us use this time of year to commit ourselves to a bigger purpose or a new experience.

I’m an all-in kind of gal. When I get excited about a new experience or group, I’m generally the person who jumps in feet first and commits all the way. I get a deep sense of gratification from joining in and fully experiencing the new adventure before me.

But I recognize not everyone is like me. For some, standing on the sidelines is quite enough, thank you very much. And, that’s okay…except when it comes to your career.

Our industry is unique in that most of us work as solopreneurs.

Sure, we see clients and interact with them regularly. But our clients are not our peers. They can’t replace the “water cooler” experience one shares with co-workers. You know, those precious moments when you have a meaningful conversation about the work you do with someone who fully understands your joys and your pain points. Those moments remind us that we’re a part of something; that we belong to.

Turns out the sense of belonging is a human need.

In an article on the Psychology Today website, Marianna Pogosyan, Ph.D. explains that bonds with others can create happiness, reduce stress and depression, be a great motivator, and, “contribute to a meaningful life since being a part of a group connotes being a part of something larger, something that expands beyond the boundaries of our own self, thus promoting a sense of ‘lastingness’ and ‘continuity.’” (Lambert et al, 2013, p. 6)

Have you been wondering, “where can I get that?”

One of the questions we hear at the NANP (pretty much daily) is, “Why should I join?”

There are myriad reasons to join your industry’s association: visibility, credibility, legislative representation, unique learning opportunities, discounts, and networking.

Ah, networking – the most valuable gem of them all!

At an association, networking IS the new ‘water cooler.’

  • It’s the opportunity to ask for and offer each other support, insights, protocols, ideas, suggestions, recommendations.
  • It’s the chance to find someone amazing to share a room with at the annual conference.
  • It’s a way to find the perfect partner for your new nutrition podcast, whole foods cookbook, or poster for the conference.
  • It’s how to form a study group to share the burden of studying for the board exam.
  • It’s the place to meet up with others in your state to talk to legislators about the importance of your right to practice.
  • It’s where you reach out for a bit of support at the end of a rough day.

Belonging to the NANP is like having a family of people with the shared experience of an education and career in holistic nutrition.

We’re talking about more than a thousand others who see the world as you do – a world where food should be our medicine and where the whole person matters.

Over a thousand people who are either exactly where you are in your career or education right now, or who have been there, done that, and are brimming over with ideas on how to help and support you.

According to Naomi Hattaway, founder of a group called I Am A Triangle that helps its members find a sense of belonging after frequent intercultural relocations, “Belonging is like stepping up on a platform and feeling like you are fully supported.”

If you’re standing on the sidelines, what are you waiting for?!

Stop pressing your nose against the glass to look in – it’s time to join, to belong!

Your family is waiting for you.

Your partner in holistic nutrition,


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