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The other day, I hopped on a scheduled call with Joyce Chang, the former editor in chief of Self magazine and a well-known media figure, and by all conventional standards, I blew it. Never once did we talk about personal achievements, five-year plans, professional strengths. In fact, I did the one thing you’re not supposed to do when speaking to a potential mentor: I admitted I felt, at times, really burnt out. Chang, much to my surprise, agreed. “We’ve lost touch with our emotional compasses,” she says over the phone from her New York City apartment. “Everything is happening so fast, we don’t have the time to ask, ‘Are we happy?’ ”

Chang, one of the first Asian Americans to become editor in chief in the company’s history, a gig she took at age 37 following senior positions at publications including The New York Times, finally got that “precious pause” at the end of 2016. “I had an Eat Pray Love year,” she says of her travels that took her to the beach in Turks and Caicos, atop a glacier in Patagonia, a leopard safari in India, a yoga retreat in the Himalayas. “That experience gave me a different attitude about life—it let me figure it out.” So, what’s the secret answer to life? “You don’t have to lean out, you just have to tune in.”

It’s a thrilling thought—putting happiness back into the equation of success—and one that is fueling Chang’s latest venture: From the Get-Go, a happiness startup “for girl bosses who need a break,” as the homepage reads. In addition to being a consultancy for businesses who want to integrate a happiness message into their culture, it is also a website that features columns written by Chang about mindfulness, fitness, food, and wine—one recent article details the time her surgeon mother offered to pay for her to freeze her eggs as a “very cool” 36th birthday surprise (“this ‘gift’ made me feel old and like a failure . . . I have often wished she were more of a cookies-and-milk mom and less of a high-powered doctor,” she writes). The site resembles a remarkably honest conversation with a really thoughtful and wise best friend.

Joyce Chang with Los Angeles–based yogi Caley Joyner

Joyce Chang with Los Angeles–based yogi Caley Joyner

Photo: Sarah Kunst / Courtesy of The Get Go

Here, there is no perfect workout or single beauty product or crash diet for reaching your ideal weight, but there is a funny personal essay about coming to terms with your “happy weight,” an ever-changing number that is the result of “a good-bye NYC pizza at the airport,” and “a beer after jumping into a glacier lake” for Chang. “I wanted to simplify the whole world of wellness so I could get to happiness on a daily basis,” says Chang, who admits to stealing a page from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a step-by-step guide to decluttering your home. “What Marie Kondo has done for physical space, I’d like the Get-Go to do in terms of mental and emotional space. Less content. More truth.”

And with truth comes humility—something Chang has in spades. “I don’t have all the answers,” she says, before immediately recognizing the irony in her statement. “As an editor in chief, you are supposed to have this bulletproof persona, or at least, that was the school of thought I was raised in, but the truth is, I’m not perfect. And I’m not a motivational speaker. But I have experience, and I know that getting back to feeling good is the kicker.”


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