An Interview With Joanna Hakimi -Marriage And Family Therapist And Founder Of LifeChangers.Info
Joanna Hakimi is a proud Mom of 2 teens, an entrepreneur, and a licensed marriage and family therapist. Starting her first successful business at the age of 17 and being president of the Young Entrepreneur’s Society at the University of Georgia, she never closed the door on opportunity. She then went on to Northwestern University and attained her Masters in Science, becoming an LMFT. After being a successful LMFT in the northern suburbs of Chicago for more than 10 years while simultaneously running a mindful goods boutique for 5 years and accomplishing a 200-hour yoga teaching certification, Joanna was itching for a new adventure. Seeing a need to connect independent professionals such as life coaches, wellness coaches, therapists, and career consultants searching for new clients, LifeChangers.info was born. Joanna’s goal is to empower and enlighten others to reach their full potential while being their most authentic selves.
You’re a licensed marriage and family therapist, you have completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training, the founder of LifeChangers.Info, and a mother of two. Can you tell us more about your work and how you ended up where you are today?
After finishing up college at The University of Georgia and working for a few years, I decided to go to graduate school to become a marriage and family therapist in 2003. After graduating in 2005, I spent a couple of years specializing in work with new moms and parents, working closely with families with children ages 0-3. I accumulated all of my hours to become licensed and then started my own practice. At the same time, to find a little balance, I started attending a couple of regular yoga classes and became increasingly interested in learning more about the spiritual side of my yoga practice. I was lucky enough to have an inspiring yoga teacher who encouraged me to deepen my practice by completing a 200-hour yoga teacher training. With my deeper connection to the spirituality and mindfulness of yoga, my world shifted. Even when buying gifts, I found myself looking for products that felt like they had a purpose or intention and struggling to find what I was seeking. Always having a love of retail and products, I decided to start my own mindful goods boutique in 2013. My store, Indigo, was an incredible place for the 5 years it existed. We built a wonderful community of like-minded people and offered a wide range of workshops in addition to the mindful goods we sold. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Indigo closed its doors and I was seeking a new project to inspire me and help me through the changes. The idea for LifeChangers.Info came out of a conversation with my best friend and I was invigorated and impassioned to get this new project off the ground.
How did you come up with the idea of LifeChangers.Info?
LifeChangers.Info was launched in February of 2021. It was created after talking with one of my best friends about her desire to grow her Life Coaching business. She felt overwhelmed with the idea of marketing her business and didn’t know what to do. I asked her if there was an online directory for coaches like her, similar to an online directory I am a part of for my therapy practice. She had not heard of anything. After a bit of researching, the vision I had in my head did not exist. There are millions of specialists who are independent professionals, in areas such as Life, Health and Business Coaching, Career and College Counseling, Tutors, etc. that have so much to offer but are not able to be found by the clients searching for them. Since our launch, we have already created a database of over 300 specialists from around the globe!
How will you know when LC is successful?
I will know that LifeChangers is successful when I receive daily testimonials of clients from around the globe that have found the LifeChanger they were seeking. The goal was always to connect specialists and clients, so to hear the testimonials of people’s lives that were positively impacted by their connection through LifeChangers will be the ultimate validation.
You always seem to have a lot of balls in the air, always a new project about to launch. How do you make everyday life work?
Self-care must be at the top of the list and not at the bottom. Remembering that the juggle and struggle are REAL and not always even. Sometimes we need to nurture and give more to other parts and know we will have to come back and pick up the pieces from different parts. Also, DoorDash….essentially, allow yourself to take some things off your plate and make life easier so you can place focus on other, more important things.
As a marriage and family therapist, you deal with people’s problems and try to help them every day. How do you separate Joanna the therapist and Joanna the mother when you come home from work?
For many of us through covid, our work is actually at home. So separating work and home life can be unusually challenging. Gratefully, we learned in graduate school how important it is to have healthy boundaries. Sometimes I have difficult cases and clients I’m working with, but having good boundaries has taught me how to empathize with their situation, but not take it on as my own. I love being a support for my clients, but in order to do that, I need to show them that I can handle their pain and struggles without it taking over my life as well. I try to model that for my clients as well as my kids. Of course, there are times we struggle or feel the pain or suffering, but then I lean on my awesome colleagues for counsel and support.
Joanna Hakimi meditating
Being a working mom today is hard, what has been the biggest challenge for you?
My biggest challenge as a working mom is fitting most of my work into the school day hours, and of course GUILT when I still have things to do when my kids are home. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day, but I try and prioritize so my parenting almost always comes first.
What makes you feel ‘out of your comfort zone?’ How do you handle these types of situations?
While building LifeChangers.Info I’ve really had to put myself out there on social media. That has definitely brought me out of my comfort zone. While I am confident in my decisions and process, it’s not always easy for me to share on social media, but I know that is a big part of today’s business-building process. Additionally, continuing to learn about the accounting and finance aspects of the business. I am not accounting-minded, by nature, I am a nurturer. Therefore, this is certainly not an area of expertise and continues to challenge me. I am learning as I go and just remember that all I have to do is learn from my mistakes as I grow.
What popular entrepreneurial advice do you agree/disagree with? Why?
I think the hardest part is that advice can be and has been all over the board. As an entrepreneur and a spiritual person, I continue to try and trust my gut and follow my intuition. Sometimes it feels counterintuitive because I don’t always have my ducks in a row. I’ve been reaching out to many successful entrepreneurs and I always need to remember that what worked for them doesn’t necessarily mean it’s what is best for me and LifeChangers.Info. I remind myself to take in what they have to say, process it by letting it sit for a bit, and then go with my gut. Anyone who is a successful entrepreneur will tell you, you have to try what feels right and then evaluate and pivot if necessary. That’s the process I am using with LifeChangers.Info
So, what’s the next big goal or project for Joanna Hakimi and how can someone get in contact with you?
The next big goal is to continue to grow the LifeChanger database and support people as they find their LifeChanger. I can’t wait to see the changes people make come to life and to hear the success stories of the connections made through our site. We are always looking for more specialists to join us, and once you are registered as a specialist we have so much to offer including guest blog opportunities, Instagram spotlights, and podcast guests to name a few!