“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch you words; they become actions. Watch you actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” -Frank Outlaw
Three months ago I was in a static place. I lived a life of passivity and comfort. I lost sight of my goals and stopped pushing myself to be the best I could be. I felt directionless, motionless, lethargic, and down.
Questions of identity plagued my thoughts. Am I able to succeed in the business of personal training? Is this the life I want to live? What type of person do I want to be? Where do I want my life to take me?
After three lazy days off from work and 25 TV episodes, I decided to take action and search for answers to these questions within myself.I opened up an old, empty journal laying dormant in my office for years and began my first entry of self-reflection.
“DAY 1: I want to be like Collin Powell. I want to take control and live the healthiest life. I want to transform myself so I can inspire others to change their lives in positive ways. What I search for is deeper than happiness, it’s less temporary. It is joy, a constant warmth of positive thoughts, feelings and actions that will forever give me fulfillment, pride and self-worth. Over the next 365 days, I will start my quest to find joy in my life by setting new goals and changing my bad habits. Each day I will journal and reflect. I will give myself time for introspection and I will value this time first and foremost.”
Since this first entry, I have grown as a person and professional in my field of health and wellness. I wake up and dedicate 20 minutes to a hot cup of coffee and deep self-reflection. Each entry is as valuable as the last in documenting my dreams, goals, accomplishments, and failures. It gives me a creative outlet, a blank slate to write and draw whatever I please. It eases my anxieties and organizes my thoughts.
But what I love most of all about my journal is that it allows me to look back on past successes, feelings, and failures so that I can learn and grow as a person.
“Goal 1: I will complete Sean T’s Insanity program in the next 60 days. I will follow the program to a “T” I will use the nutrition guide and proritize my workouts and eating above all else. I will plan for potential events that may cause me to relapse. I will record my weight and nutrition into Weight Watchers online to hold myself accountable. I will take responsibility for my weight.”
This was my first goal setting entry that succeed and failed in many ways. First, it succeeded in following a SMART goal formula: Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Realistic, and Time-bound. It was the first entry that got my body in motion. It also gave me a mantra to live by: I will take responsibility for my weight. I still repeat the mantra daily.
Unfortunately, these goals were set to other people’s programs, and not my own. The most important thing I have learned looking back on my journal is that you need to establish your own path to success. You, yourself, need to establish your own diet program that fits with your lifestyle, taste preferences, and capabilities.
My journal is a place where I can dream big and live large. I can define myself as the person I want to be, the job I want to create, the life I want to live. I imagine myself at my best and let my writing take over. My journal has given me my identity and lead me to my path of success.
“I would like to become a life strategy coach to help other build successful, happy, joyful lives. I want to be positive, self disciplined, understanding, joyful, inspiring, healthy, attractive, successful, social, and balanced. I want to learn how to be a life coach, weight loss coach, in home personal chef, online coach, set up online marketing techniques, FMS certified, and achieve my masters in counseling and clinical psychology. I need to makes skills of interviewing and motivation, web design, social media, organizational and time management skills, weight loss, and marathon training. My ideal job is to work at a health and wellness company to teach people how to workout, stay on nutritional plans and balance everyday life stressors. It would be a 9-5 salary paid job. I would like to earn $90,000 a year. I have to be dedicated and provide quality of care, education and support beyond what my competitors provide. I would be willing to give up my easy, free lifestyle and free time spent reading and doing useless tasks to make this amount. Success would bring Jon and I more security. It would give me independence from my poor mother who pays for everything in our family. It would allow my to stop renting and buy a home. It would also give me the possibility of getting married and have a more active social life filled with more luxuries. Success would make me a better person because I would be more responsible and independent. I would have less stress about money and more opportunity to do the things I love. I will feel fulfilled by the progress I see in my clients and happy I can make positive changes in other peoples lives. I will also be motivated to make more positive changes in my own life.”
“I set my goals too high yesterday. My body was exhausted and everything hurt. Today I feel better and I am determined to push through any pain. My nutrition yesterday was okay. I am very proud of the decision I made when I went out to eat pizza with Jon. I really wanted to order pizza, but I knew it wouldn’t be worth the calories. I had a delicious antipasto salad and actually enjoyed it more than the bite of pizza I tried. Another feeling that made me proud was waking up to a flat stomach. It looked so good, it felt so good. I actually feel good wearing a tight tank top.”
“Yayyyy!!! I can finally feel and see results of my hard work and it’s encouraging me to keep it up! I am wearing clothes that didn’t used to fit. Jon is smacking my ass and calling me ‘cute’ a lot again. Hmmm… I even feel so confident that maybe we will have us some sexy time. It is getting easier to stick to the plan. I am getting used to referring to my list and checking one item off at a time. I am giving myself enough time to sleep and finding ways to productively fill my time. Go me! :)”
“Still being awesome. Eating healthily. Feeling confident and productive. Reduced my carb intake and started following a great and easy diet plan. Had fun fishing with Jon yesterday.”
“The key to staying focused is to remember everything I do will effect my larger goals. Each step matters just as much as the last. One checked off, another step to start.”
On accomplished tasks and left-overs:
I like to write a list of what I have accomplished each day, and what is left over that I need to do tomorrow. This allows me to feel positive about the actions I took during the day and capable of completing the rest that I have to do.
On behavior patterns:
By documenting my behavior I can learn from the bad and seek out the good. Often times our patterns go on without being recognized. The first step to creating good habits is to learn from your bad habits. Make sure you keep a record of any behavior patterns that may be positively or negatively effecting your life.
“I have to be aware that as my week goes on, I will feel more tired and less inclined to do things, and that is okay. I know I have enough time in my day to complete my most important tasks.”
“It always happens right around my period. I have a night when I can’t sleep. I need to be careful to stay active and not nap during these times so I can have productive days and restful nights.”
“Okay, time to speed up progress a bit. I am being productive, but at a snails pace. I keep getting distracted thinking about what I have to do, but not doing it. I also enjoy sitting on the porch and reading self-help books. BAD GIRL! It’s time to put the plan into action. Get my little booty rocking and a rolling. Time to blast some rap and get my clean on. Then, workout. Finally sit down and do all of the sit still type work. It’s been two hours and I wrote 10 vocab slides, 10 root word slides, and answered 13 math questions. 2 hours and that’s all?!”
“I need to build endurance to my self-control. It only seems to last a few days until I feel bored, tired, and unmotivated to continue doing the same things. I get frustrated when I want to do what I used to do, and can’t. It is okay to have temporary feelings of lackluster, however, it is vitally important to regain motivation and a sense of purpose… I want to help myself so I can, in turn, help others. I want to live a better, fulfilling life. I want to be joyful and bring joy to others. In order to do this, I must follow my plan. Each and everyday should be filled with productive, not self-destructive thoughts and actions. I need to learn from this week’s failure so I can improve myself next week…
1. Don’t put too many goals on your plate. Don’t try to change more than one habit at a time. 2. Get 8 hours of sleep a night. 3. Wake up early enough to complete runs. Don’t press snooze. Ignore any tire feelings, they will pass. 4. Schedule time in the day to relax. 5. Keep a to-do list visible at all times. Have a back up plan in everything is not accomplished. 6. Schedule a time to log food everyday. 7. If you say your are going to do something, then just do it!”
On important events:
“I met a girl today who reaffirmed why I love my job. She REALLY needs my help. She has had issues with her weight, body image, negative self-talk, and stress levels. I can’t wait to continue helping myself, so I can help her in return.”
Small events in your daily life can be important ones that shape your future. I always make sure to reflect on moments that inspire me to move forward towards my goal. Whether it is a new person you meet, a compliment you receive, or an event you attend, the smallest moments can lead to great success. Take the time to record and reflect on these events to keep you moving in a positive direction.
HIGHS, LOWS, and RESILIENCY
Similar to daily reflections, my journal entries on my highs and lows document my actions and accompanied feelings when I am at my best and worst. This allows me to improve my resiliency, or my ability to get back up when I am down.
Low: “Wow, I sucked at life today and wasted 6 hours and 16 minutes playing solitaire in the sun. I even canceled my workout session, and I am not sure why. I needed to workout! Woah, what happened?! I almost feel like crying, but I am not sure why…”
High: Same day. “OMG. I just did a complete 360. I got back on top of my life so quickly. I finished all I had to do. I signed up for my marathon. I exercised. Got back onto my diet and I feel amazing. I am so proud of myself for bouncing back so quickly. 2 hours. That’s all it took for me to remember how badly I want to achieve my goals and how important they are to me. This means that it is set in writing. It is official. I am completing in Run Disney 1/13/13. There is no going back now.”
“Starting up again after my neck injury. I had a spasm in my right upper trap and couldn’t move my head. I got behind on my chores, to-do list and running program. Today I feel much better and need to play catch up to get back in the game.”
“If I don’t finish everything today, then I will finish it tomorrow. I have the ability to do everything I want to do. I have the ability to be productive. I may feel tired but that feeling will pass. I need to rise up to the occasion and remember each short term goal will lead to my long term success.”
“Getting ready for my 7 mile run today. The preparation is just as mental as it is physical. I have to get myself pumped up with positive feelings. This run will change my life’s direction, refocus my mind, ease my anxiety. After this run, my schedule gets back on track. My eating habits will go back to no carbs. I will feel my body radiate with health and accomplishment. I will strive to maintain this positivity throughout the week.”
“I had to take a week off from training! I got a sinus infection and Ecoli! I spent all last week resting and I still feel so tired and still sick. Today will be a day to get evrything back in order. I first and foremost need to run 2 miles. This is what matters and that is what will come first.”
“12 miles today. It will be my first long run since I was sick. I feel nervous and afraid I wont make it, but I know I will. The key to today’s run is to listen to my body and go slow. I am taking Caleb [my dog] with me to help me feel better. I am trying a new , prettier route today, which will be exciting. The leaves and weather is so beutiful. It will be perfect. Don’t be nervous. Get Excited! RISE UP AND RUN!”
PLANNING AND ORGANIZATION
“If I want to be successful in all of my goals then I need to establish a strategic game plan. This will allow me to see exactly what I have to get accomplished each day to achieve my end result. In order to do this, I will meditate for 7 minutes, go out and buy a monthly calendar and write checkpoints for each goal I have in mind. The goal will be specific but the time it is achieve will remain flexible. Each day, I will employ if-then thinking to designate what time the task will be achieve. If it is 10:30 a.m., then I will go out to buy my calendar. I need to value this planning time to make sure I am successful. This is the most important step.”
“After taking the time to strategically plan out my goals, I feel much more in control. I know exactly what I have to accomplish each day to get to my goal.”
“I will prioritize and check on thing off at a time. I won’t get lost in any one task. I won’t waste time debating what I want to do first. I will just pick one and go. It’s about working smart, not hard and being efficient with my time.”
I always keep a log of planning tips I employ and successful things I have done to get myself organized. I write lists of foods I prepare in advanced, calendars I use to track my progress and steps I take toward action. How you organize and what you organize are the most important steps towards productivity.
EASE ANXIETY and RELEASE NEGATIVE FEELINGS
“I got a little behind on my goals yesterday. But, I won’t worry because I know I can make up for lost time.”
“I didn’t get much accomplished yesterday because I slept poorly. Today I have a lot to catch up on an feel anxious and tired. I know I can get everything done if I do one task at a time after I take time to rest. I will use if-then planning to get through my day and take on action step at a time.”
“Ahhhhh!!! My job makes me so mad! I am pissed off, broke, and frustrated. I can’t take it personally. It is business.”
“Feeling so bummed out. Jon is too. Don’t feel like doing anything. We aren’t good together when we are busy. I am really not excited about anything.”
“Feeling down about work and frustrated. I need more money.”
“OMG. I have let myself become a fat, average slob. I was looking at old pictures on facebook and I used to be skinny, tan and beautiful in everyone of them. No matter my clothes, I looked amazing. Now, all I see is fat. It’s like I forgot I had the potential to be beautiful. It’s like I just completely stopped caring, which is not true. I care more now than ever! I need to shape up and become more comfortable in my own skin. This is really quite ridiculous. Stop making excuses! Start making results!”
“None of my clothes fit and I am freaking out. We are going out in SoNo tonight and I literally have nothing to choose from!”
“I am broke. I am anxious. I am nervous and drunk. Just a well of tightened emotions. I am broke and discouraged and unclear where to go next. I lost self-control in exercise and eating. I am living in a limbo between success and failure. Never going too far in either direction. Never really moving at all. I always look for a formula, somthing I can follow- a, b, c. But as soon as “d” is thrown in the middle, out of place- a, d, b, c, my whole life slowly steers out of control. I need to learn ways to handle the “d’s,” the surprives and moment unplanned that make life worth living. My number one focus is business. I am my business. My look is my product.k I need to make money, so I need to make myself the best I can be. Come one you drunkard, live life aggressively!”
Rather than complain to others, I co-ruminate with my journal on any negative feelings or anxieties I may have. This outlet allows me to get my thoughts out of my head without negatively effecting others. It allows me to spend positive time with people rather than dwell on my worries and fears. Most of all, my journal gives me a place where I can be completely honest to myself about how I feel.
STARTING NEW HABITS:
New habits are hard to start. Most research has found that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Keep a record of your progress in creating new habits to help you stay on track.
“I need to start establishing the new habit of waking up, putting on workout gear and heading out the door.” … “So, I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and went running at 5 a.m. It was hard to get out of bed, but I really enjoyed it and felt energized during the day.”
“What an awesome run. Great music. Great weather. Great pace. Great times! I feel ready to be productive and less anxious in making decisions. I am more focused on what needs to be done. I also feel so accomplished, like I have finished a thousand tasks all rolled into one.”
“Right now I am having a little set back with nutrition– eating a lot of carbs and binging at night. I need to refer to my no-carb diet checklist and make sure if I do eat carbs it’s is only for “fuel” purposes. Food is fuel, nothing more and nothing less.”
“Nothing better than an early mornin run! I am extremely exhausted, like beyond tired from not sleeping but I am keeping a positive and upbeat attitude.I will crash later, and hard. I had some extreme carb cravings this morning. First, an egg wrap from Executive Corner Deli. Then Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, the Bagel Shop. I even contemplated stopping at a hyspanic deli for some chips! Not sleeping makes self-control much, much harder. But I just kept reminding myself that not amount or type of food is work it. I need to set an example for my clients. I have a plan and I need to stay strong. I know I can be thin and beautiful as long as I put my mind to it.”
“I need to make sure I don’t get so lost in my business that I forget about friends, family and spending quality time with [my boyfriend] Jon.”
“Still running. Still staying focused. Sometimes I feel bad that I am not spending enough time with Jon. He is not working and we are both home a lot. He watches a lot of TV and I no longer feel interested in sitting on the couch all day. I need to make sure to take time away from the plan and do quality fun activities with him. It is our 5 year anniversary on Thursday and I want to make sure he knows how blessed I feel to have him in my life. I want him to know how much I love our life together and how much I appreciate all of the support he gives me. I am the luckiest girl in the world to have found the love of my life so young. Here is to 5 years and many more to come.”
Reflecting on relationships can be the healthiest thing you can do to improve your behavior with a loved one. We forget to express our love and appreciation to one another daily, and your journal can be a great place to get started expressing how you truly feel.
FAVORITE QUOTES AND BOOK EXCERPTS:
“Who you are, what you are, and where your life is going are all choices. The sooner you learn to take responsibility for the choices you make, the thoughts you have, and the attitudes you embrace, the sooner you can have the life you want.”
I write and highlight my favorite quotes from motivational books like Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, What Would Napolean Hill Do?, and Running for Mortals. These quotes inspire me to keep pushing towards success and having them in my journal gives them a place where they are visible and accessible in times of need.
MY LOVE FOR MY JOURNAL
“I really do love journaling. I think more people should write about their hopes, drams, goals and setbacks.”
“This journal is probably the coolest self-development tool I have ever used. It is so motivating and insightful to see my mindset at my highs and lows. I can look back on strategies that worked, and ones that didn’t. I love reading about my successes and temporary pitfalls.”
“I want to make journaling a life-long habit. It helps me control bad behaviors and praise myself for good ones.
MY LAST ENTRY OF JOURNAL # 1
“Yay! I am living my goal. I have lost 13 pounds and I am inspiring others. Yesterday, my friend Michelle told me I inspire her to run long distances. She wants to be able to do what I can now do! My client wants to know the diet plan I am on because she says she can “really see the results.” I have turned myself into the person I want to be, and in turn, I am inspiring others. I am having all of the girls over tomorrow to hang out. I feel so blessed to have friends and feel included in a social circle. Jon and I have been talking openly about keeping our relationship fresh. I am so excited to go hiking with him Saturday! He seemed to really listen to me and has already taken steps to change the way he acts towards me.
I am so proud of myself. I have taken such positive steps. I feel joyful, a never ending state of content and happiness. I am putting myself first without losing sight of my altruistic nature. What an amazing way to conclude my first journal. I can’t wait to continue my journey in Journal # 2.”