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December 29, 2011

18 Ways To Ensure 2012 Is Your Best Year Yet!

I get a kick out of it when fitness professionals or exercise enthusiasts groan and shake their heads at New Years’ time because come January 1st, the “gym is going to be packed.” For me, I love it! What more could we really want, as fitness pros? Does someone who hasn’t exercised in 6 months have less of a right to be there than us who are slaving away 365 days a year?  Of course not! It is like people who only go to church services on Christmas and Easter and the regulars always roll their eyes–isn’t the whole point simply that more people are at church? Am I somehow missing how this is a bad thing? :) Of course, it is more crowded and your favorite treadmill might be taken by some “unworthy” beginner walking at 1.0 mph on it, :) but honestly, they need it more than we do, right? (a lot easier to accept in theory!)

So, anyway, to get off my high horse now, all of this is to say that really, I just LOVE this time of year! And not because more people are getting into the exercising-spirit, but because it is a time to reflect on last year and set goals for the new year. And so what if you don’t keep them…the simple act of goal-setting is worth something–it takes insight, consideration, reflection and taking of an internal inventory–all good practices regardless of outcome.

So anyway, without further ado, here are my 18 ways (yes, that’s a lot but I will try to make them brief lol. sigh.) to ensure a great 2012–mind, body, relationships, career, self-esteem and all-around-good-feeling-ness:

1] Focus on being successful implementing new changes ONE at a time, not everything at once. Small successes keep us motivated, and turn into bigger successes. Start with switching to protein smoothies for breakfast instead of cereal, for example. Make it into a habit before tackling the next change.

2] Begin putting yourself first when it comes to your health. How can you possibly take care of others when you are not taking care of yourself?

3] Positivity trumps negativity every time–practice finding the lesson in even the crappiest situation even if the lesson is just not to that that again!

4] Think big. “Big thinkers are never satisfied with what they already know. They are always visiting new places, reading new books, meeting new people, learning new skills.” –John C. Maxwell. When you think big, you attract big opportunities, big people and big pay offs. Besides, why NOT you?

5] Begin practicing active acceptance. We tend to be scared of being “ok” with our physiques because we worry that if we don’t beat ourselves up enough, we might find ourselves overindulging too much. Begin to let go of the idea that in order to “stay in line” you must feel guilty or perpetuate the idea that you are not good enough. Active acceptance is giving yourself permission to accept yourself “as is” right now, but without resignation. In other words, you can feel fulfilled and happy in this moment while still striving for a leaner, fitter physique. Acceptance does not necessarily mean resignation.

6] Give yourself permission to feel emotions as they arise. Many people, including myself for many years, internalized negative emotions for fear of what they might mean. Allowing yourself to feel emotions fully, both positive AND negative ultimately enhances growth. Always hiding negative emotions because they are “bad” ultimately can lead to resentment, negativity and stifled growth. Simply experiencing a negative emotion–like anger–is benign. Acting out of anger is the action that can arise from the emotion, but doesn’t have to. You are always in control of your actions. Feeling angry, for example, is valid and healthy. But acting out of anger is not always advisable. Allowing yourself to be human is healthy and normal :)

7] Give up trying to get everyone on your team. You love fitness, health & nutrition, Your partner or family member or friend or sibling might not. Pushing them to fitness when they are not ready yet only makes them feel worse and you feel frustrated. All you can do is be a good example and support them in any effort they put forth, but don’t have any expectations. The only thing you can expect is that they will do exactly what they want, and if they are a loved one, isn’t that what you want–for them to do what makes them happy? You can’t really know what’s best for someone else. Hard to accept, especially with health, but ultimately true.

8] Put together an actual plan for what you want to accomplish, including detailed steps for how to get there. Hope is not a strategy :)

9] Own your power. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” –Eleanor Roosevelt. I believe this strategy can be applied to all of your goals and aspirations. Many times, we are the ones holding ourselves back for fear of what others will think or how we will be received. We doubt our abilities so we are reluctant to “put ourselves out there.” But understand that you will never be completely ready, so you might as well simply decide that you are. Don’t wait to have all the answers before jumping into the game. Like my stepfather (MBA biz professor) told me, most successful individuals/companies launch by going, “Ready, aim, fire, aim, aim, aim, aim….etc” You can launch without knowing exactly where you are going. The idea is that you implement, learn along the way, grow, implement new strategies and keep moving. Stop being the one holding you back. The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

10] Get focused. If you are everywhere, you are really nowhere. Getting in-depth and excellent at a few select things will guarantee success beyond simply having experience in many different areas or being versatile. If you want to be successful, start with one thing–stick with it, master it. Then move on to the next thing. It’s not that you can’t do everything, you just need to prioritize and actively focus on one thing at a time. If you aren’t sure where to start, choose the thing you are most passionate about. It is hard to be tenacious if you don’t love something. And tenacity is a must for success. And remember:

11] Learn to say no. “Focus is about saying no.” –Steve Jobs

12] Realize that physical strength begets mental-emotional strength, but also the opposite is true. A lot of women I work with who start weight training report how much it has helped improve their self-esteem and confidence. This has been shown extensively in exercise psychology research, especially in cases of anorexia and bulimia. Working on your “physical self” improves your “emotional self.” But, the opposite is also true. When you consciously work on your “emotional self” consistent implementation of the actions needed to improve your “physical self” becomes easier. For example, if I begin introspection work, reading books on self-esteem, understanding my mind, my insecurities and decoding my “stuff” I find that I have less challenges with the physical stuff, like working out or eating right. How much of your overindulging, cravings for sweets or inactivity has to do with stress? Probably 100%. What if you could work on stress management via introspection, self-realization, coming clean with your insecurities and simply handling your “mind game” better?  Your cravings would probably decrease. Your mental energy for exercise would probably increase, etc. It goes both ways: increase the physical—>increase the mental/emotional; increase the mental/emotional—>increase the physical. Good news!

13] Understand that there is risk in starting your journey. But the risk of not starting is greater. Let 2012 be the year that you finally do what you feel driven to do, don’t let fear stop you. The time will never be “just right.”

14] Learn the power of reading. Not novels, but books on topics you are interested in, whether it’s business, psychology, social media, spirituality, fitness, nutrition, etc. Simply getting new information empowers you. Gaining new insight empowers you. I usually read a book a week, and I always get at least 1 new, interesting idea out of each one that I can apply to my business, relationships or personal development. Open your mind to new ideas and increase your potential. Want to be more interesting? Develop more interests. And reading gets you there.

15] Fall in love with your mistakes! Ouch! :) Hard to do of course, but without challenges, obstacles, struggles and mistakes, there would never be anything to overcome and learn from. There is nothing inspired about perfection, and if you know someone who’s perfect, they are probably also not growing. You should instead cherish and feel grateful for your mistakes, they are GIFTS (not always fun ones!) given to you so that you can learn, grow and develop further in your journey. If I am clear, I can actually say that I look forward to my mess-ups because I know I get to grow. If I am not presented with opportunities for growth, then I am not moving forward.

16] Practice visualization. This is the most powerful thing. If you have read books like “The Secret” or “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, you understand the power of visualizing that which you want to manifest. Seeing yourself in that place, really experiencing what it feels like to have, be or do that which you desire is the key. This is not the same as hoping. This is a conscious practice of experiencing yourself in that place in your mind, consistently and vividly. It is amazing the kind of “luck” you can experience as a result if you have your eyes open :)

17] Stop looking for affirmation from outside yourself. It feels nice to get warm fuzzies and accolades for your work. I am just as guilty of wanting affirmation for my stuff as the next person (isn’t this a good blog?? :)), but ultimately, when we are always seeking praise outside ourselves, we can never really feel satisfied. The person who is always looking for others to tell them they are good, or “ok” can never truly feel satisfied and can never really even hear it. It can never be enough. So you have my permission to cut out the middle man this year, and just jump right to: “I am pretty friggin’ awesome” and begin owning it. You can stop looking for affirmation and start spending your energy on making yourself happy and fulfilled doing something you love, regardless of what others think. [Side note: It is normal to want affirmation, we all do it! In fact, there is nothing wrong with wanting positive feedback, and many times it propels us to do more and keep going. So ultimately, this is a practice–giving ourselves permission to just be, without needing positive affirmation constantly. When we get to that place, positive affirmation becomes something special for which we are grateful, and has more meaning, instead of a necessity.]

18] Successes AND failures are both largely the results of habit. That which you do, or don’t do regularly is reflected in your results. If you want different results, begin doing things differently. Use 2012 to take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Then take a critical and objective look at the changes that need to be made to get there. Consciously implement the new steps to get there. Write it down and go over it every day like a daily affirmation. You can’t drift and expect to end up in your dream. Remember, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” –Tony Robbins

2012 is going to be an amazing year. Keep your eyes open, your mind open, your heart open:

“Intellectual growth, a eureka experience, a paradigm shift is less likely to take place if we are dogmatic, if we are unwilling to open ourselves up to different ways of understanding
and seeing the world.”

–Tal Ben-Shahar, from his positive psychology book “Being Happy”

PS. Be sure to subscribe to the JillFit newsletter to get your 2012 Goal Setting Worksheet, which is going out tomorrow (Saturday Dec 31st) to all subscribers: Subscribe here!

Wishing you an amazing year! Love, Jill oxox

Related: 21 Ways to Keep Your New Years Resolution 

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