On my birthday I could think of nothing more fun than to spend it outlining 29 lessons or random thoughts that I've accumulated over the last 365 days.
I'll spend my day doing what I get to do every day, my ideal day. It started off with an hour of reading over a hot cup of coffee, followed up by writing this post. I'll then go hang out with my dream team at the gym, get a workout in, and top it off with an evening spent with Megan and Kaden.
This last year has certainly been a test, in so many ways.
Like all years, it was filled with ups and downs.
As I reflect back, it's always more ups than downs, although it never seems it at the moment, the "roller coaster" feel of every day I think is what makes life so fun.
I hope you enjoy the random thoughts as they're in no particular order and I wrote them as they came into my head this morning :)
Also, as a side note, I write these lessons not only for those reading but also as a reminder to myself, I'm not perfect, I'm here right along with you.
1. Happiness: That seems to be what we're all after. We want happiness in our lives, in our families, in our careers, etc. Happiness doesn't just come to you after you make a certain amount of money or reach a certain title in your career. I believe true happiness is never-ending. It's being on a journey with a clear direction. It's being a part of something bigger than yourself, standing for something and having values. It's being excited about the process. It's leaving the world a better place than you found it.
2. Being a part of something bigger than yourself: That's a value that has been more rewarding than almost anything I've come across. I'll continue to always involve myself in things that are bigger than me. Whether that's my growing family, my team, or my business. It's so rewarding to see the impact you can make on someone or something bigger than just you.
3. Your network is a true reflection of your net worth: As I continue to grow this statement continues to drive home how important who you know is. There are so many opportunities that have come about both in business and in personal life that would have never happened if I didn't know that person. I aim to meet one new person a day. I surround myself with people that are where I strive to be. I surround myself with positive people. All of this has allowed me to grow personally, professionally, and financially. Life is too short for negative people. Life is too short for tired people.
4. You work for the people in your house: Why do you go to work every day? You hopefully are a part of a positive company that has a strong mission that you're motivated by. However, at the end of the day, you go to work every day to provide for your family. I'll be forever motivated to make my mother proud, a woman who left us to early, but in her short life did everything for the people in her house. Everything I do is working towards building a better future for my wife, my son, and their future. This one hit home this year especially, and I needed to remind myself of it constantly. I am a workaholic. It's something I've used as a badge of honor, and I do believe it's part of the reason I've been able to build what I've built, however, that could all come crashing down if I don't constantly remember why I'm doing what I'm doing every day. It's for the people in my house, and if I spend the entire time working, I never get to enjoy the people in the house.
5. Find a partner in crime: This journey we're on in life has it's up and it's down so why not have someone by your side to laugh and cry with you? Megan has been with me through the ups and downs of everything. When it's good she's there, and when I come home screaming to her about a frustration she's right there too. I can't imagine my life without her, and I could only wish the same for all of you. This year has been the toughest for us. We welcomed Kaden into our lives in August, which has been amazing, but it definitely challenged our relationship. She spent the first 4-6 months taking care of him, raising him, and I spent the first 4-6 months feeling like a useless piece of shit. I didn't know what to do with him, I didn't know what to do to help, so I just defaulted to what is easy for me...work. I worked to support our family, yes, but I believe I missed the point. It wasn't until Kaden turned about six months old that we had a turning point in our relationship. I knew if I kept going on the track that I was going (working so much and not being present at home) I was going to lose them. We're by no means perfect now, but I can't thank Megan enough for sticking through this journey with me, and I know it can only get better from here. And as for Kaden, he's now at an age that I really feel like a dad. I got to help him get in the pool for the first time, I play with him on the carpet as he learns to walk, I take him for walks on the beach, and I now, finally, feel like a dad.
6. Profit First: We've always been taught finances like this: income-expenses = profit/savings. Meaning, once you get paid, you pay your bills and then try to save what's left. Well how's that working for you? I'm challenging you to reverse that equation so it looks like income-profit = expenses. Automate a certain percentage of your income to come out automatically and go right into retirement/savings. You surely will miss it the first month, but after that, you learn to live on what's after. The government assures they get their chunk first (think of what happens with your paycheck) so why not run your personal finances the same way. Automate a certain percentage automatically to come off the top (pre-tax) and you will thank yourself in retirement. Following this for the last couple years has allowed my family to be financially free, have a long-term retirement plan in place, have a cash reserve for emergencies, and have the financial flexibility to do what we wish. I don't say that to boast, but to drive home the point that this works.
7. I don't give a damn about what others think: This is not meant in a harsh way, and I'm not saying I don't value people's opinions, but I just don't let what anyone thinks impact my mood. Way too many people are living someone else's dream. They are going to college because their parents told them to. They work in a job they hate because society tells them it's the right thing to do. They make buying decisions (houses, cars, etc) to please the people around them. I do what is best for me, my family, my team, and my clients, in that order, and don't let any negative nancies chime in with their opinion. It seems to have worked out ok :)
8. Dream Team: Everything you see is a result of my team. I may help lead it, but they are the ones that are in the trenches day in and day out delivering our mission of changing people's lives. They work relentlessly, and I would not be where I am, Spurling Fitness would not be where it is, without the devotion of my team. Surround yourself with good people and good things will happen.
9. Reverse any goal into what you need to do today: You want to have a million bucks in the bank? What do you need to do TODAY to make that happen? Do you want to lose 50lbs? What do you need to do TODAY to make that happen? Every goal, no matter how large, can be broken down into manageable chunks to determine what needs to be done today. Take any of your goals, and reverse engineer them into what action needs to be done today.
10. Experiences over materials: I always joke that I could fit everything I own in a Rubbermaid container. Outside of real estate, vehicles, and the equipment in the gym, I don't own much. I have a t-shirt for each day of the week (yes, I'm weird like that), two pairs of jeans, my laptop, and my journal. Now I know I'm missing stuff, of course, but the point I aim to make here is I don't spend money on materialistic things, but instead spend it on experience-based things. I challenge you not to chase the "dream life" of a big car payment, big house payment, and lots of debt (trust me, I've been there). Why? You end up choking yourself out, working every month just to pay your bills, and you never get to enjoy any experiences. You won't remember all the stuff you own, but you will remember the memories you create.
11. Make it automatic: Go back to my line about profit first. We don't have the discipline to manually write checks into our long-term investments. So instead, I can't recommend enough that you automate it. I automate everything. All bills are automatically deducted, but not until savings is automatically deducted. Every 10th and 25th in my business account and in my personal account a % goes into a long-term savings vehicle, automatically. If it's there you'll spend it. If it's not there, you'll forget about it. Make it automatic.
12. I wish. That's the biggest phrase I work to avoid. I wish I went on that trip. I wish I tried that adventure. I wish I made that career jump. When I'm 95 years old and sitting in a rocking chair I can only ask for one thing...no regrets. I did everything I could to make an impact and leave a legacy. I don't want to say "I wish."
13. Understanding Your Why: In his book "Start with Why" Simon Sinek makes the argument that most people know what they want to do, and how they have to do it, but they never take the time to think about why they want to do it. Without exaggeration, this book changed the way I think about life. If you look at the best businesses in the world they always have a very strong WHY. Similar, the most driven people in this world are motivated because they know their WHY. If you know your why, you'll have no problem getting out of bed every morning. You know you'll know your why when you can't wait to go to bed because you know the next thing is getting up and working towards it. For me, I aim to leave a legacy that my mom would be proud of, and a legacy that when I'm gone, my family can say "dad built this." My mom was never around for my "adult" years, she only remembers me as that quiet and awkward (I still am) kid. She'll never see what I've built, but I'm motivated, probably more than if she was still around, to build something she's so proud of. Now that I have my own family, I wake up every day with a very clear picture in my mind. Kaden is in his 60's, and he's showing his grandkids what his dad built, pictures of the family, the trips they went on, the community he impacted, the businesses he built, the transformations he curated, and the people that he inspired. For me, it will never be about counting the hours or punching the clock, it's about doing something every day to build that vision. That picture is so clear, and it motivates me on the hardest of days.
14. A Mentor: Who do you go to talk through a tough decision? Do you have someone that aims to not only be there for you but challenges you both personally and professionally? Having a strong mentor in life can be a game changer. For some it's a parent, for others it's a co-worker. It can take time to find a mentor, but if you find a good one they will take the roof off, and make you grow further than you ever thought possible. For me, my mentor, Pat, is my second dad. I've called him on a Sunday afternoon freaking out, and he talked me through it like it was nothing. He challenges me, in a professional way, but more so in a personal way, to make sure what I'm building constantly works me closer to my ideal life. On the flip side, earlier this year, I was called a mentor by my Director at Spurling Fitness, Josh, and it motivated me so much. Being able to be a mentor to someone is so rewarding.
15. Freedom is what we're all after: Freedom to do what we want when we want. Now, I'm not saying sitting on the beach all day with a cold drink in your hand. That sounds good, but I would bet after a couple weeks of doing that you'd get bored and have no satisfaction. We want financial freedom to be able to travel and provide for our family. We want freedom at work to be home on the weekends with our family. Each move we make every day is moving us towards more and more freedom.
16. Hire an Expert: If I told you that there is this slot machine where if you put $10 in it and once you do that you get $20 back, how many times would you do that? I'm not sure about you, but I'd do that all day long. That's what hiring an expert does. I pay a lot to have an expert business coach, but he's easily made me seven figures that I would have never made without his help. I hire an expert bookkeeper and accountant because together they've saved me thousands. In whatever area of life you're trying to get better at, hire an expert. It will save you time and money in the long-term.
17. Ask the right questions: If you're looking for the right answers you need to ask the right questions. I spend the bulk of my time thinking about what questions I'm going to ask someone. Whether that's a question for someone on my team, a question to another business owner, or a just a question to my wife. If you want quality answers, ask quality questions.
18. Listening: It's the largest skill I continue to aim to develop. Make no mistake about it, it's a skill that needs to be practiced. We think that listening is this passive thing where we can just sit back, but if you want to truly listen to someone it's an active exercise. That being said, truly listening, being in the moment, and making that person feel like they are the most important person right now is so much more valuable than anything you say. Most people are not listening, they are just waiting to respond.
19. You get paid for done: I got this line from my mentor mentioned above, Pat. He always drives that home. Ideas don't mean anything, we get paid for done. This is not only true in business but true in life. You get "paid" when you complete something. Pay does not have mean money, it means you get what you're after. Setting fitness goals is great, but if you never take any action they'll always remain goals. Setting income goals is great, but if you don't take action they'll always remain goals. Analysis paralysis can be our biggest weakness. Take action and execute. Ship it!
20. The more books I read the more I grow: According to Brian Tracy one hour of reading a day will put you at the top of your field in three years. Within five years you'll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do. Everything I've learned has come from the people I've met and the books I've read. I aim to read for an hour a day, it is a priority to me, and it's where I gain a large chunk of my development.
21. Play: I think the older we get, we forget to play. As kids, we do a nice job playing, but for some reason, the older we get, we forget to have fun, to play. Trust me, this is just as much of a reminder for me as it is for you. I take things very seriously. I will do anything to hit my goals, and when I'm into something, I want to be the best in the world at it. However, I always remind myself, that when we're at our best, we are making things a game, we're having fun, we're playing, I believe this so much that one of our core values at Spurling Fitness is play. Each session needs to have play in it, how I lead our team needs to have play in it. If you want to be successful in fitness you need to make it fun. In order to love your career, it needs to be fun.
22. We trade good problems for better problems: Life will always be full of problems. I have caught myself in traps where I try to do get rid of all problems. The reality is, life will always be full of problems, it's just a matter of exchanging good problems for better problems. Last year you didn't own your own house, now that you do, you traded that problem for the problem of making sure to pay your mortgage each month. Last month you had the problem of being unhealthy and not working out, now you have the problem of balancing going to the gym with work and family. We all have problems. The goal is not to get rid of the problems, that will drive you crazy, but instead, trade good problems for better problems.
23. If you write it down, it will happen: Every goal I've ever accomplished started with a scribble in my notebook. Whether you're after a physical goal or a fiscal goal, write it down. I'm sure there's a bunch of research that supports this, but I just simply know that If I write something down there's a very strong chance it will happen. If I keep it in my head, the chances of it happening pretty much disappear.
24. Have a clear and documented vision: Where does all my "stuff" go when I write it down. My personal vision. What is a vision? A vision is a "picture" in the future. For example, where do see yourself on May 10, 2021, three years from now? Take the time to document what you want your life to look like, document what you want to be doing for work, what kind of trips do you want to go on, what you want your finances to look like, what you want your average day to look like, everything. Everything gets writtend down in the vision. Read that vision every morning, and make sure what you're doing that day is moving you a little bit closer to that vision. Take that vision and break that down into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily action items. Take a day to map this out, and read it every day. This exercise has changed my life.
25. We don't deserve anything: I'm a firm believe in everything we want we must earn. The reason you can call my business a success is because my team and I have literally put blood, sweat, and tears into it. I'm pretty confident that I work harder on my business than 99.9% of people out there, and that's why it is where it is today. While some are enjoying television, I'm usually working on the business. While some are okay with punching a clock, I never stop, looking to always make things better, 24/7. While others blow money on coffees, I stash it away. In the world where everyone gets a trophy and we have kids graduating college thinking their poop doesn't stink, we need more people driving the message home that we don't deserve anything, we earn it.
26. Thank the people that got you to where you are: I'm all for hard work and building what you want, but nobody gets to where they are without a little help from others. This year I've tried to spend more time going back to the people that helped me and thanking them. The biggest was my dad. My dad and I have never been super close, and he shows about as much emotion as a white wall. He still has yet to buy even the smallest of gifts for Kaden, he may not remember to call me today on my birthday, but he's still my dad and I love him. When I first started the gym, I had no money. Six years ago, he let me max out his credit card to pay the first months rent of my first location and buy some equipment. Six weeks ago, I found out his apartment complex was up for sale and he had to be out by the end of the month. I remembered that day six years ago when I called him to tell him I was starting the gym and he let me max out his credit card. Six weeks ago Megan and I bought him a condo he'll get to live the rest of his life in. I had to return the favor and thank him. Now, that's the biggest example, but even a simple handwritten note or small gift to the people that have helped me the most is of the utmost importance to me this year. I lost friends years ago for not being thankful for what they did, and now, I try to always remind myself that they are always people that are helping me get to where I am, and it's the same for you.
27. Success is never a straight line: That picture that we've all seen of the two lines, one is straight, and the other is filled with a bunch of squiggles. That is the perfect image of what success looks like. There will be bumps, there will be setbacks, but those that work through those and continue to push forward will come out on top. Again, all of this is true whether we're talking fitness, business, or life.
28. Values are guardrails: Another golden lesson I got from my coach, Pat. Take time to develop your values and they'll act as your guardrails. When you look at a tough decision go back to your values. When you're wondering if something is right, go back to your values. Make decisions and live a life based on your values. This, again, became super important this year, as I needed to constantly remind myself of my values to make sure I wasn't performing in ways that are building
29. 1% Better: This is the motto I live by. Every day I try to be a better person, a better husband, a better father, a better son, a better business owner, and a better leader. 1% better every day. It's keeps me hungry yet humble. It's everything.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this.
If you're reading this you've impacted my life in one way or another and all I can say is...
I look forward to another great year. :)