I’m going to get a little personal here and share with you 25 lessons / values that have developed for me over time. I personally feel that if I stick to these and keep them in perspective regarding all goals, challenges and the day to day, I am doing alright.
Over the past 3.5 years, I feel I have really learned a lot about myself and life. It has been a dense couple of years for growth between experiences with death, relationships, career choices, figure competitions and the journey inward.
I thought I would share some of my personal findings with you – take what you want from them, after all, they are personal to me. Though I may be not “old” enough to be “wise,” I believe living through experiences and taking a deep look at them (and yourself) can really provide a lot of opportunities for growth. I’m sure there are a few I’m missing on this list, but it was getting long enough 🙂
1. I train to be strong. I eat to be lean. – With this simple rational, it’s easy for me to justify why I do what I do. It helps me make the choices I make on a daily basis. I have also found that no matter how hard I train, I will not have the body composition or the physique I want if my intake and diet do not match my efforts in the gym. To me, proper eating is equally important as the time I put into my activity – and to be honest, proper eating requires a hell of a lot more round the clock effort than my training.
2. Habits – After competing for 2.5 years, I’ve learned that good habits die hard too 🙂 It now feels unnatural for me to eat crap or skip training. Put in the time and consistency to develop good habits, they are just as hard to break as bad habits.
3. Believe In Yourself – If you don’t believe in yourself, why should anyone else?! If you want to achieve something, expect that you deserve it and believe that you will attain it until you do.
4. Follow Your Heart – This can be a scary thing, sometimes the road less traveled – but do it. Be true to you, you will feel so rewarded. There may be days of challenge and your strength and positive attitude could waiver, but dig deep to move through those moments. Don’t lose sight of your passion and continue to pursue / create what makes YOU happy. You only get one life, you ought to live it for you and for what drives you to fulfillment.
5. Consistency – Whatever you want to be or do, wherever you want to go, however strong you want to be or lean you want to look – I’ve found consistency will get you there. Just apply appropriate efforts and repeated daily.
6. Training Is A Gift – I heard this one from Martin Rooney years back and I tell it to myself and clients all the time – Training is a gift you give to yourself. It is your time, your money and your body. It is also a gift as not all people are capable to train. Appreciate your training.
7. Strength – is so important in every capacity. Strength in character and internal strength are equally important to cultivate just like physical strength.
8. Sacrifices – be prepared to make them. To have great things, you must do great things. It’s likely you will go against the grain at times and you will have to stand strong and or make choices and sacrifices that are not easy. Keep the bigger picture and goal in mind.
9. Eliminate the Negative – get rid of the negative people, places or things from your life as best you can. We can’t always avoid such people or circumstances, but have your antennae up and steer clear when you can. It’ll make the day to day much lighter.
10. Integrity – Be honest with yourself and others. Act according to the values, beliefs and principles you claim to hold.
11. Drive – the relentless pursuit of the goals and things you want to achieve. You must have this in order to achieve your visions.
12. Hard Work – Be prepared to put in the extra time and energy. To achieve above average, you have to do above average and most often, above average is not easy.
13. Death – I hope most of you reading this haven’t had to experience a death so close it leveled you. I did unfortunately, back in 2008. Today, I can finally reminisce about him with smiles and be grateful that I knew him for seven months rather than zero. I wouldn’t trade one minute of my time with this person to spare any of the pain and loss I felt as a result of his untimely death. What I did learn however, was that life is precious and short. That bad things happen to great people and most importantly, if we care about someone, we ought to value our time with them always and tell them often.
14. Injuries – We’ve all had them. Some we can work around, others we must learn to respect and let heal. It can be frustrating to sit out of activity, training or sport in order to let the healing process take place – but considering longevity and quality of lift / activity down the road – respect the injury. Just like the heart needs time to heal, so does the body.
15. Life Goes On – I’ve arrived at a pretty peaceful and happy place in my life. Despite challenges – whether loss of loved ones, loss of security or a hard practice in general – I’ve come through to the other side a few times and found with hindsight, that life does go on, all things pass and we will get through.
16. Stand Strong and You Will Grow – Stand up for yourself. Whether it be in a work environment, in a relationship or for something you believe in – it’s empowering to stand up for yourself and you will grow from it as it makes you stronger from the inside out.
17. Support Systems Are Great – sharing things with family, friends, colleagues and coaches, helps double the joy and lessen the difficult. Also, it often “takes a village” when aiming for a big goal, so work people into your support system that can help you towards your goals. Besides, if you don’t have loved ones to share life with, what good is it really?
18. Networking – can serve as gasoline to your fire. Not only does it help you grow, it can be uplifting and inspiring! Especially if you are on the road less traveled. Also, no need to reinvent the wheel – seek those who can help guide you.
19. Passion – passion, one of my favorite words – it fires our souls and lifts our spirits. It breeds enthusiasm and enthusiasm turns into a positive energy which attracts success. Passion is a great navigational tool if you will listen to it. I am driven by passion and to create the environment and day to day tasks / activity that make me happiest.
20. A Positive Attitude – We live our day and lives through the attitude and perception we have. You can focus on the difficulties and annoyances or focus on the good and be grateful. Having a positive attitude makes life so much more peaceful. You may not be in control of circumstances, but you are in control of your thoughts and actions. During tough times, aim to keep a positive perspective in order to keep your chin up and eyes on the things in life that are going your way (whether it’s the big picture that everyone you love is healthy or the small simple pleasures like a beautiful day or a good training session.)
21. Adversity – it’s going to come and will do so in all different shapes and sizes. Having the ability to stay the course and plow through — as Winston Churchill says “if you’re going through hell, keep going” – You will hopefully come out of the challenge stronger, more empowered and with more experience to handle the next difficulty. It can also make us more empathetic to others.
22. Failure – Failing can be an opportunity to learn, grow and gain perspective. Aim not to blame others and not to be too hard on yourself. Rather, recap your strategy, your efforts and move forward with additional experience and a positive perspective.
23. Let Go Of Expectations – When you have expectations of something – you put it in a predetermined box that has little to do with reality. You set up an idealized version of the thing (or person) and then try to fit the reality into this ideal, and are often disappointed. Instead, try to experience reality as it is, appreciate it for what it is, and be happy for what it is. (took this wording from Leo Babauta)
24. Always Aim To Be Fair, Honest and Kind – to yourself and to others.
25. You All Keep Me Inspired – I have realized in the pursuit of my goals and dreams, I am most inspired by all of you. To continue eating, training, studying, coaching, writing, creating and living through example. If it weren’t for the fellow passionate fitness friends and professionals, the process wouldn’t be half as enjoyable.