Year 2018 started with an ambulance ride to Johns Hopkins hospital.
My mother witnessed my near-death experience as she saw me drown in my own vomit, unable to speak a sentence, go through three water bags in the ER, and still pee dark brown.
Severe dehydration from the norovirus kicked off my 2018. It sucked.
And being so close to death from lack of nourishment was the first time I felt out of control in my life.
It was a miserable experience to say the least, but I was grateful to come out alive and still be able to walk on this Earth as an empowered human being.
Life has its weird way of trolling us when we least expect it.
And what I thought would be a strong start to the year, as business was good, my purpose was found, and my hair finally looked luscious, ended up being a nightmare.
Alas, such is life. Just like a diamond undergoing stress to be made into something beautiful, humans too, must withstand resistance in order to blossom. Smooth sailing, to that end, is a fallacy.
While 2018 was a year of “oh f*ck!” moments, it was also a year of “oh f*ck yeah!” moments. Admittedly, I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned. I’m grateful for the lows. I’m grateful for the highs. And you know what? Despite the oscillations, the only direction I continue to move is forward.
Let’s dive into what I learned and how you can grow too:
1. Admit when you’re wrong.
As long as you’re living on this planet, you will never be right 100% of the time.
So if someone calls you out, whether this is your spouse, your best friend, or your colleague, graciously accept their criticism and be open-minded. The one thing that will stagnate your growth is when you always think you’re right.
2. Set clear boundaries.
Most humans don’t know how to draw a line in the sand, meaning, they don’t know how to set clear boundaries when it comes to how others treat them. Moreover, they don’t communicate them.
Do you like to be given alone time from your partner every once in a while? Tell them.
Do you want to be treated with respect at work? Tell your colleagues.
Do you want to have girls’ nights away from your boyfriend once a week? Tell him.
Be clear on what you value, but more importantly, let others know how to treat you.
3. Fuel and love your body.
Your body is the one thing you will live with the rest of your life, so treat it with great care.
Yesterday, I was at the nail salon and the manicurists were so impressed with how I kept my figure. I told them 1) heavy strength training 2) healthy food and 3) walk every day for 30 minutes.
Personally, these all have been positive game changers as far as my physique and brain.
Figure out what elevates your physical as well as mental health and commit to those daily.
4. Make time for loved ones.
Life isn’t about how many hours you’ve worked, how many clients you trained, or how many days your worked overtime.
Let me ask you this: how many times did you spend quality time with loved ones this year? How many times did you go out of your way to see your friends?
The above photo was taken after I had a 4-hour work morning on a Saturday. I drove to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania right after, and stayed there for all of 12 hours to see my college friends. Then, I drove home.
This is what life is about, folks. Make time for people you care about, even if it’s for a meager amount.
Work ain’t that serious.
5. You’re not that special.
Earlier this year, I wrote a viral article called You’re Not That Busy: No One Cares About Your Hustle.
If you want your mind to explode, read it.
Oh, and you’re not that special. Your work is significant, but it’s also not.
6. Make every decision out of self love.
Want to know a secret to making better life decisions? Make every decision out of self love.
Humans have a weird way of hating themselves and their stupid decisions justify this.
Ever wonder why your guy friend keeps going back to that manipulative little girl? He hates himself.
Ever wonder why people can’t overcome alcoholism? They hate themselves.
Ever wonder why your best girl friend stays in an abusive relationship? She hates herself.
If you think deeply about why you make the decisions you make, you can become aware whether or not they’re out of love or hate of your self worth.
So make decisions through love, I urge you. They always end well.
7. Pick up new hobbies.
It wasn’t until three years ago when I became a passionate snowboarder.
Picking up new hobbies is a great way to get out of your comfort zone as well as sidetrack from the monotonous routine of life.
I’d argue you also learn new mental skills when you try new things. Snowboarding, as an example, taught me how to be even more in the present moment because every move has to be a hyper-focused action on my heels and toes, where my weight was shifting, and where my eyes were tracking, otherwise I’d be face planting and wiping out hard.
Acquire new hobbies and explore corners of your brain you’ve never explored before.
8. Invest your money.
It wasn’t until 2017 I started my IRA for retirement. Investing your money, rather than spending it on a cart full of useless junk at Walmart, is your best bet. Bank accounts have their way of waning quickly in today’s world.
Invest your money. Now.
And enough of the $3 peppermint mochas at Starbucks Monday through Friday.
9. Give a sh*t about people.
One cold, lifeless day, you’ll retire.
You won’t have a career. You won’t have an identity. You won’t have a title. You won’t have a salary.
But what you will have (hopefully) are meaningful relationships.
Give a sh*t about people. Even if you’re jumpstarting your career, it’s easy to get lost in the “I’m-too-busy” bs and be on your grind so much you forget your best friend’s birthday.
No one is ever too busy to reach out or better yet, see loved ones.
10. Be humble.
No matter how big you get, always stay humble.
Oddly enough, the more years I tally onto my career as a strength coach, the less I claim to know.
Truthfully, I don’t know jack squat. But what I do know? Every coach, whether a veteran or a novice, can teach me a knowledge gem.
11. Don’t be set in your ways.
Expounding off of the last point, the further I’ve gotten into my career, the more I’ve realized to not be so set in my ways.
If you’re a strength coach who only programs back squats, or who does an ipsilateral Arnold Press instead of a Contralateral, maybe, just maybe, you should know there are a million ways to do exercises.
With that said, don’t be set in your ways and always keep your clients’ specific needs in mind.
12. Don’t try to change people.
If you’re guilty of trying to change others, you’re wasting your time.
Of course, we can lead by example, but at the end of the day, humans will do whatever the hell they want.
I wrote an extensive article called Humans Are Funny: How To Deal With People Who Suck that will help you come to grips with this truth.
13. Take action.
If you’re someone who talks about their hopes, goals, and dreams, yet fails to execute them, I don’t take you seriously.
The best way to accomplish your goals is to take action.
Many people ask me how I wrote a book this year. I tell them, “I took action daily until the final product came into fruition.”
What’s comical is, people see the end result and want to jump to it without doing any real, daily work. Weight loss. Speed development. Strength.
I’m calling bs.
In order to create and build something truly magical, it takes a relentless desire to chip away at the mundane crap every day.
So you want to increase your speed? Train at minimum 2-3x a week.
So you want to improve your conditioning? Train at near maximal effort instead of half-assed 65% of heart rate max.
So you want to release a book? Write every day.
This bears repeating: take freaking action.
14. The ego sucks.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: the more I’ve immersed myself in this male-dominated industry, the more feminist I’ve become.
Egos. Freaking. Suck.
Don’t get me wrong: women are capable of being ego-driven just as much as men (I was guilty once upon a time), but I’ve found I have a superpower in sniffing egos out.
Like Night-King-read-minds-and-stare-into-people’s-souls-with-my-piercing-blues-eyes sniff them out type power.
Any time I’m talking to another strength coach and they defend their qualifications, or talk about their extensive D1 college experience, or showcase
the alphabet behind their names all of their certifications, or don’t let me get a word in edgewise, or don’t even ask about me, or try to prove their methodology, I always ask myself, “hmm, why are they telling me this when I didn’t even ask?”
You guessed it: egos.
When talking to colleagues, or I mean, letting them talk to you, always ask “why?” and the answer is likely they’re living in their ego.
I highly recommend you all read Ego Is The Enemy and learn a thing or two about how to be a more enlightened, less self-centered human.
15. Wear professional clothes, drink coffee, and act like you know what you’re doing.
16. Welcome negative people.
People who come into your life won’t always ooze positive vibes. In fact, there will always be “bad eggs” and people who trigger you. Funny enough, these tend to be the folks who teach you the most about yourself.
So welcome all the trolls into your life. And learn from them.
17. Find a mentor.
It wasn’t until this year I sought out a business and spiritual mentor. Taking the conversation back to not knowing everything, it’s critical to find people who are ten steps ahead of you in certain areas. While I like to think I know how to write balance sheets in Excel, promote on social media, optimize SEO, and meditate in the mornings with a side of match tea, I still had a lot to learn in the realms of business and spirituality.
Sometimes, you need guidance not only to get to the next level, but to motivate you to embark on ventures you never deemed possible.
18. You never know where you’ll end up.
One of my favorite articles from the year was Do You Really Need A Life Plan?
What I loved most about this piece was the commentary on the beauty of uncertainty, spontaneity, and exploration.
Life, to that end, is a series of odd events that are unpredictable at best.
When I thought I would play for a D1 school, I ended up being a goal-scoring record breaker at a D3 school.
When I thought I would go to medical school and be an orthopedic surgeon, I ended up becoming a strength and conditioning coach with a Master’s Degree who wakes up with passion and fervor every day.
When I thought I would be a no-name blogger who just wrote for a few readers, I ended up becoming a big-name blogger who writes for 10,000+ readers a month and freelances for numerous fitness publications.
When I thought I would be a marketing manager for a corporation, I ended up being my own marketing manager for a product of my own.
Life is weird, ya’ll. And if you think you can predict its twists and turns, you’re wrong.
You’re also doing yourself a disservice by escaping the beauty of the present moment and accepting life for what it is: unfathomable.
Cheers to 2018 and its mysterious way of kicking things off with hell and capping things off with bliss.
I couldn’t be more excited for what is on the horizon in 2019.