The end of a year is a time for reflection, a time to remember both high and low points — and to learn from both those moments. These are lessons I’ve learned in 2015 that I’m going to carry with me to make the most of 2016 and beyond.
People will doubt you. Brush off their negativity.
We all want to be accepted, whether it be by our parents, friends, or even a random follower on Instagram, it feels good to know that people approve of us and what we’re doing. However, not everyone is going to agree with all our decisions and actions, and that’s totally fine. When I left an amazing job a year and a half ago to start an online business, doubters were coming at me left and right. Man, it was easy to let people get inside of my head. Their concerns were certainly valid and I shared many of them: “How does a personal trainer take her business online?”, “How will you pay the bills?”, “Do you even know how to design a website?” And then there’s my favorite: “But you’re doing so well where you are, why on earth would you leave for something unknown?” These were all sensible points, and there were times (and sometimes still are) when I would have freak-out moments in response to them. But it turns out that the less I let these thoughts take over my mind, the less they mattered. After all, not everyone is going to approve of things we do and it can be really exciting and invigorating to be the one swimming against the current. It’s important to ask for advice and listen wholeheartedly, but at the end of the day you’ve gotta do you. Don’t let someone else’s fear get in the way of your dreams. A lot of us stand still in a world that’s constantly spinning. Don’t let that stagnant person be you.
Learn to say No.
I know, you’ve got things to do. Your mother-in-law wants to have lunch; you need to help your brother’s girlfriend move into her new apartment; your neighbor just had a baby so you’ve got to cook her enough meals to last for two weeks. Yes, doing all of these can make you a good person when it comes to helping others. But what’s the point of being a good person if you can’t be good to yourself? We all have a lot on our plate, which makes it so easy to think we don’t have time for the gym, or to make a healthy lunch to bring into work the next day. Each of us needs to find what is important to us and to make time for it. The more you say “No” to things that don’t matter so much, the easier it is to say “Yes” to the things that do.
You will never get anywhere if you don’t believe you can. Lack of trust in one’s self is one of the biggest limitations when it comes to being successful. If you go out on the edge and give something all you’ve got, you’ll make it a lot further than if you don’t try at all. The beauty in self-trust is that we may not accomplish everything, but we can always learn and improve along the way, getting stronger as we go.
You “can’t”? Or you “won’t”?
Get the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary. If we think we can’t do something, it usually means we won’t. Let’s try it like this: “I can’t go to the gym today; I don’t have time” would translate into “I won’t go to the gym today”. Then we admit that we have made an active choice not to go. In fact, I could probably wake up 45 minutes earlier than usual and make time for the gym, but it is my decision not to, and therefore, I won’t go to the gym. Try this one on for size:
“I can’t eat healthy foods today because I’ll be at a party with lots of junk food.” In a world without the word “can’t,” this would become: “I won’t eat healthy foods today because I’ll be at a party with lots of junk food”. You could eat something before you go to eliminate the amount of crap you have at the party, but it is your decision not to. Usually we “can,” but we “won’t.” There is a difference; own it.
Life is messy. Let it be.
Anyone who has all of their shit figured out doesn’t have enough shit going on. I used to think that my house had to be spotless before I could sit down on the couch to watch a tv show. Then I got two dogs and a job and realized life went on even if there were some fingerprints on the coffee table. Things can and will get a little messy and crazy at times. Learn to deal with this part of life when you can and embrace the messiness when you can’t.
Twenty minutes is all you need.
I’m a personal trainer who doesn’t like spending a lot of time for my own workouts in the gym. So I plan workouts that last for about 20 minutes. This makes my workout very realistic and easy to fit into my schedule. Every single one of us can find 20 minutes for exercise in our day. If the workout is intense enough, 20 minutes is all you really need.
You’re not perfect and that’s ok.
We all have our own version of what being perfect is. But no matter which definition you apply, I can tell you that no one is constantly perfect. You may admire someone who seems to have it all together in every aspect of life, but that person has probably dealt with imperfections and foibles of his or her own. Social media is one reason many of us feel “less than” in this day and age. Sure, it is a great way to let others into our lives, but think about it — we mostly only show the perfect stuff: The selfie when I just got my hair blown out, my living room after I’ve finished cleaning it. How about that photo with the perfect family in which everyone is wearing the cutest outfits and biggest smiles? Well, perhaps their youngest had a temper tantrum three minutes before the photo was snapped. We aim to get to this perfect point in our lives and in doing so forget that where we currently are is real and fabulous. Leave perfect behind; you’re good enough right now.
Being comfortably uncomfortable is where the magic happens.
Stepping outside of your comfort zone is unbelievably invigorating. This took me a while to get used to. We like to feel safe, to follow a routine, to be surrounded by familiar faces. Doing something unknown is scary. Not too long ago I signed up for a seminar where I was going to travel alone and spend a weekend with a bunch of people I did not know. I was terrified; I even cried a bit and thought about cancelling. But I put on my big girl panties, flew into the unknown, and had the best time. I believe that self growth, independence, and success all happen tenfold outside of our comfort zones. We are certainly our own worst enemies when it comes to setting ourselves free.
Be kind — most of the time.
Of course we should treat others as we’d like to be treated; it’s a lovely concept. However, I don’t think it’s realistic 100% of the time. There will be things other people say and do that piss us off. How we respond and deal with these unpleasant moments is what makes us who we are. I think very highly of those who say “Always be kind.” But for me, I know life contains arguments and comments tossed around that aren’t nice. So I will focus on three things: being mindful of kindness; thinking before I speak; and apologizing for the moments when I’m human and say something hurtful. It’s a start in the right direction.
Forget goals. Find your tune and sing it!
Some people love setting goals; others think they’re bullshit. In order to do your best you’ve got to find what works for you. Maybe instead of saying you’re going to cut out processed foods for 2016, you decide that you’re going to eat foods that nourish you the majority of the time. A new year means we get to start off on a fresh, clean slate. I want you to find one thing that’s going to make you better over the next 365 days. This is your tune. Compose your personal aria on that blank slate, belt it out from the mountain tops. The possibilities are endless. Your possibility is endless. Never forget that.
Happy New Year.