ClassPass Founder Payal Kadakia’s 3-Part Foundation for Achieving Your Dreams

ClassPass Founder Payal Kadakia’s 3-Part Foundation for Achieving Your Dreams

Most ambitious people have something they would love to do if they only had the money, time or connections to do it. Payal Kadakia pushed through those constraints to actually do it.

Kadakia is best known as the founder of ClassPass, a subscription service which allows users to sign up for ad hoc fitness and salon sessions. Kadakia sold the company to Mindbody in 2021. Now, she’s written a book, LifePass: Drop Your Limits, Rise to Your Potential. In it, Kadakia gives advice based on her experience of leaving her corporate job to build a business around dance classes, and helping others live their own passions.

“I knew I was taking this uncharted path in what I was doing… so I didn’t let anyone around me or the environments around me hinder me, or make me doubt myself in any way,” Kadakia says.

In this episode of SUCCESS Stories, Kadakia tells SUCCESS’ Madison Pieper about how she managed her finances so she could commit to her business full time, her goal-setting system and not letting the pressure of other people’s expectations weigh you down.

Make a financial plan that supports your dreams.

Instead of thinking about money exclusively as something you make to pay your bills, think about how you can use it to fuel your dreams.

“I have this mantra: Make money work for you, you don’t work for money,” Kadakia says. “We need to make sure that the dollars we are getting every single day are helping us either grow, or are being spent on the things that we truly care about.”

One you’ve identified your dream goal—starting your own business or traveling the world, for example—reframe the role money plays in your life. 

Create a budget so you know how much you’ll need to support yourself while you go after your goal. This will give you an idea of how much you have to save before you’ll be able to focus on it full time.

Knowing that she wanted to trade corporate life for dance and tech, Kadakia spent six years saving up money from her day job. She had a clear idea of what she wanted to spend money on, and it wasn’t fine dining and vacations: it was growing her business. 

Kadakia built enough of a cushion that she could live off her savings for three years while she developed ClassPass. “It was a huge relief to know that I had three years to go after what I wanted, without having to think about having this side job,” she says.

Sticking to your path in the face of other people’s expectations.

Following your ambitions often requires you to take routes that people in your life don’t fully understand or agree with. It’s easy to say “just ignore them,” but feeling like you don’t fit in with people you love and respect is hard.

Kadakia experienced this personally and professionally. Although her parents fully supported her entrepreneurial spirit, they also worried that she was working so hard that she would never find someone to marry. And on the career side, Kadakia thought that others would judge her artistic background as too soft for the tough tech world.

Two approaches helped Kadakia navigate these pressures:

  1. Set boundaries with others. Most of the time, people who love us push their expectations onto us because they think it will make us happy. Kadakia’s parents genuinely believed that being married would bring her joy. However, having them constantly asking about her love life—or lack thereof—only added to her own concerns about being single. Ultimately, she had to set boundaries to avoid feeling that she was constantly being distracted from her work by this pressure to find love.
  2. See your differences as strengths. With regards to her dance background, Kadakia realized that she didn’t want to hide her passion for the thing that had driven her to build ClassPass in the first place. “Dance is everything: Dance is what started this company,” she says. Instead of concealing her background, she learned how to celebrate it as part of her story, without letting it overshadow everything else that made her a great founder.

Goal-setting sessions that can change your life.

New Year’s Eve isn’t the only time of year for making life-changing resolutions. Kadakia recommends holding goal-setting sessions every three months: Not so long that you lose focus, but long enough that you can make real progress.

In her book, she identifies the LifePass Method for setting goals. Here’s a teaser:

  1. Reflect on your life. Identify the feelings, thoughts and themes that most accurately describe what your life has been like in the past three months to a year.
  2. Dream big. Ask yourself what you want to hear yourself saying about your life when you ask yourself the same question in three months’ time. Focus on how you want to feel, rather than things you want to accomplish.
  3. Prioritize. You can’t do everything at once, so rank your aspirations appropriately. Kadakia has her own system for doing this.
  4. Set your goals. Create 10 to 15 measurable, achievable goals for the next three months. 

We all have dreams, and through planning, prioritizing and holding onto our passions, we can push past the obstacles keeping us from making them come true.

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