I’m not really sure where the time has gone, but somehow I turned 28 yesterday.
Sometimes I wake up and think I’m still 15, and there are many times I step back in wonder at my life and where I am today.
After growing up in the tiny, boring mill town of Camas, Washington, I’ve lived all over the world, including amazing places like Amsterdam, New York City, and most recently, San Francisco.
After being 100% convinced for most of my life that I was not athletic and there was absolutely no hope for me in any sport, I got certified as a personal trainer, have done triathlons, learned to box, took up Krav Maga, have been recruited for the CrossFit games, and am currently (happily) struggling in gymnastics.
After thinking that the only way to be fit was to eat broccoli and boiled chicken and working out for hours every day of the week, I now work out for no more than 15 minutes a day (anything else is just fun or skill work).
After struggling from one career to the next, including journalism, nonprofit work, politics, and copywriting, I now own my own business (in fitness, nonetheless!), and wake up every day ecstatic to get to work and help people all around the world.
Thinking of it that way, it’s been a pretty good life so far.
I can’t say that I’ve done everything I dreamed I’d do by this age as a kid—after all, I’ve always been quite the high achiever and believed that I would have turned the world upside down (in a good way) by now. But I can’t get too down on myself.
Since last year around this time I did a roundup of things you might not know about me, I thought that this year I’d share some of my reflections from the year and a few of the things I’ve learned (and want to continue to work on) in my 28 years on earth (warning: many of these are not fitness-related):
Take the time to celebrate and reflect
It’s become more and more clear to me recently that there’s a fine line between being driven to succeed and being just too damn hard on yourself.
I have a lot of trouble with this one. Whether it’s with my endless list of fitness goals, my restlessness and desire to travel, or my incredibly ambitious hopes and dreams for my business, I don’t always do a very good job of finding balance, despite it being a lifelong goal of mine.
I push myself really hard, yet never give myself a second to rest or look back on what I’ve actually achieved, so no matter how hard I work or how far I go, it never feels like enough.
I’ve realized I need to make a big effort to get better at this and be kinder to myself, because I’ve accomplished some big things these past few years—yet still I can’t help but feel like I’m working so hard and getting nowhere all of the time. If I continue like this, I’m going to go crazy.
Lesson learned: Take time to celebrate your achievements and reflect on how far you’ve come. It’s important.
Some progress is still progress
One of the things that’s been true for most of my life is that the moment I decide I want to do something, whether it’s to learn a new exercise, start a new career, or travel (or move) somewhere new, I am convinced that I should spend all of about five minutes on that new thing before I’m a total and complete expert at it or make it happen (yep, I guess this is the opposite thinking of the 10,000 hour rule).
Up until recently, in fact, if I was not immediately good and successful at something I would give it up totally, moving on to something new and more interesting, even if I I was making progress (yet just not excelling as fast as I would have liked).
Yet what I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is that if I stick with something and really, really work at it, I can accomplish anything I put my mind to.
This is a definite shift from my previous way of living, and something I hope that I instill in my writing so you guys can start believing it too (and living your lives accordingly).
Lesson learned: Some progress is still progress, and hard work and consistency will beat out talent any day.
Seek out (and prioritize) personal connections
As a lifelong introvert and an extremely driven person, I often live in my own little bubble away from people, and do my best to avoid them most of the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I love people—but usually from afar. That’s why the internet culture works so well for me most if the time, because I can still keep my distance and be a little bit anonymous, yet still interact with people I respect and admire.
Because of this, I’ve often chosen working towards my own fitness/business/educational goals rather than creating deeper connections with people, a path that has led me to learn a lot about a lot of different things over the years. Yet I can’t help but feel I missed out on creating meaningful connections and relationships throughout the years, something that could have helped me to learn and grow even more.
I’d like to make it a big priority to get better at this in the future—and think that if you’re not doing this already, you should probably consider doing the same.
Lesson learned: Make connections and relationships a priority in life, no matter what else you have going on.
Never give up
The biggest thing I’ve learned over the years?
To keep on fighting, no matter what.
Fight for what you want to accomplish. Jump over the roadblocks (or shove your way through through) that will inevitably come your way. Fight for your dreams, and never give up, no matter what.
As one of my favorite books ever suggests:
“You’re never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.”
― Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah