How to Create a Success Mindset in Work, Life and Fitness

“Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life it’s about what you inspire others to do.”
– Anonymous

I think about success quite a bit and how to create a success mindset and tools. As far back as I can remember, I have wanted to make something of myself, I just didn’t truly know what that something was until I found Muay Thai in 2002. The idea that I could be anything I wanted as long as I set my mind to it was something my mother gave me at an early age and I am grateful for her optimism. Unfortunately, limitless possibilities and big dreams where some of the only tangible tools she gave me in regards to success and I had to figure out the others on my own; it’s a good thing she also taught me the importance of independence at an early age. In my youth I encountered quite a few road blocks to success. After spending most of my teens and early twenties pulling a crashing world around me due to my love of all things pleasurable and my inability to delay gratification I was saved by finding Muay Thai. I attribute much of my success in sport, work, love and life to my passion for Muay Thai, but underneath that love, for a long time I still had a ton of fear. That fear is still with me, there is just much less of it now. Each training session, each fight, each victory, each lesson I would squeeze out a little bit more of the fear every day as I worked on my self development both as an athlete and a person.

My journey is not nearly finished. I want to keep growing until the day I die. There is always more I want to learn and accomplish, but the tools that have helped me succeed this far, I’d like to share with you now…


aquarium_fresh1. Create the space in your life to grow bigger

I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately. I compare this thought to a fish tank. A few years ago my boyfriend wanted a big fish tank. The kind you see in movies, artistic placed in the middle of a room in a big, baller mansion. I was hesitant at first and thought they would be a pain in the ass to keep up with and clean the tank (I was right), but they are also pretty to look at (he was right) and they have taught me an important lesson.

When fish are in a small tank, they won’t grow to their full potential, instead they remain small to fit the tank and it’s limited resources. Many types of fish if you put them in a bigger tank, will grow and flourish to the size of the tank provided. However, some fish, even different ones of the same breed just never grow. When I asked our pothead fish cleaning guy (yes we had to hire a cleaner because I was tired of arguing over who would clean the damn tank) why one Angel fish got really big and another stayed small he just replied, “Oh, well some are just like that… maybe they don’t wanna get bigger.”

My gym Function 5 Fitness is getting close to a time when we’ll need to move and expand. This is scary stuff. I think back to before I owned a business and the thought of filling a 2,800 square foot gym was insane, given that I only had 500 square feet of studio to call my own. I was just renting a tiny space inside of a larger gym, but I took out the loan with my partner and the leap of faith and here I am. I made the space and now it’s filled and as we near our fifth year in business I am thinking, “How big of a tank do I want next?” I am a fish that grows. I just have to decide how big I want to grow.

I’ve also heard this phrase about relationships. Don’t go looking for a relationship, create the space in your life for one and the right man will come. I also know this to be true. Only when I had worked hard to become someone, I liked, and at a time when I was most invested in creating the life I wanted for me, the right man just appeared.

I’ve also been thinking about this phrase in terms of being an entrepreneur. This year I decided to invest in replacing myself in the office at the gym. Full front desk staff, full office manager staff, training other people to do new client consults. It’s not that I don’t want to be a part of my business, I am simply moving myself into a space that is less bogged down in post-its, paper clips and contact logs, so I can sit back with a cup of coffee, take a deep breath and look at the BIGGER picture.

Where do I want to go? How will I lead the way? What path do I take? These are just a few of the big things that I’m wrestling with. But there are also thrilling; beautiful questions like; How can I help more people? How can inspire others more? How can I lift up my team and help them inspire more people? It’s these questions that I love to ponder, but it’s hard to ponder such things while being weighed down by a stack of papers in your inbox and your Gmail reminder alerts going off every hour.

By training others to do the work I am currently doing in the office, by delegating more and worrying less I am creating space for a new vision, new dreams and the creativity to create right actions to get there.


2. Write things down

I have been keeping a journal since I was eleven. I attribute much of my personal growth to this. It helps me immensely to write down my thoughts. I also make a list of my goals yearly, monthly and prioritize my to-do lists daily. I write down every idea I have, even if it may seem small. I have a “Someday Maybe List” for stuff I might want to do, but I’m not sure yet. This includes everything from staring a new morning strength class to the water filter I might want to buy when I buy a house in the next couple years, the weight rack that I want to buy for the gym when we move and a jeans recommendation that my friend Chel gave me for boyfriend style jeans that feel like sweat pants – Maybe in the fall, when I’m in the jeans buying mood, I thought as I cut and pasted the link into my list.

Once a week I sit down for about twenty minutes to review all my action lists, reordering things, adding new things. I can’t take full credit for this system.  I read Getting Things Done, and it changed my life and my office in profound ways.

Writing things down has given me the organization to succeed and the freedom of a clear mind because the toothpaste that we are almost out of at home needs to be purchased in the next 2-3 days, and if I don’t write it down I will keep thinking about it every 2-3 hours when I walk into the bathroom. This thinking will subconsciously get in the way of many many more important thoughts.  For this reason, I can also attribute some of my success to the Amazon Prime app on my phone.

You can call me A-type or OCD, but writing things down has excelled my success. If nothing else, have a goals list and update it every month. Make sure to write down action steps you are taking toward those goals (more on this later).


3.  Set aside time each day to learn…

Invest in an even bigger chunk every 3-6 months to really immerse yourself in new knowledge!

I read every day. Most days I get through a chapter or so of a book, other days it’s just an article or two on a topic of interest, on good days it’s half a book. The important part is to never stop learning new things. I cannot be a teacher if I don’t know how to learn. I cannot build a growing business if I remain stagnant.

I invest in my education. Last year I went to an SFG level 1 cert in Philly to re-certify, assisted a level 1 cert a month later in San Diego, took a body weight course with Master SFG Karen Smith, attended the Perform Better Summit, a Results Fitness University seminar and watched countless hours of Muay Thai Fights. That’s a lot of money spent on education. This year is not even over, and I’ve already spent a few grand on my professional development category for both me and my team. Sure it’s a tax right off, but more importantly it’s an investment. I have received so much more knowledge to help my success by making sure I am always learning. It’s worth every penny.


4. Put on Your Oxygen Mask on First, Then Help Others in Need

I find that as a coach sometimes you struggle with how much to give others and how much to give to yourself and the balance between the two. This is also true if you are a parent, a business owner, a husband, a wife, etc…

I have found that If you don’t take care of yourself first, you will have nothing to give at all.

I am pretty much useless to others if I don’t feed myself healthy food daily, train my body, train my mind, respect my need for alone time and keep my stress in check. That being said, taken too far these action can see-saw into being too selfish with my time and I know that my ultimate goal is to help others make their lives healthier and lead my team to help even more people create healthier lives – so a balance is needed.

It helps me to think of the oxygen mask rule for kids on flights. Make sure I have oxygen, then help someone else who needs to get this vital element too, but may not be able to do it on their own. I can’t help other people if I can’t breathe. I also shouldn’t try to help people that don’t need it or don’t want my help… (That’s a whole other blog right there).



5. Reverse Algebra – Start From the Bottom Up

Remember those long formulas in high school algebra. I was one of those geeks that loved them. I remember liking how you could take something complex and through a series of rules get one concrete answer. It felt so neat and tidy. I wished life was like the end result of math, always.

I was partly correct. However, life is not really like x=1, life is really more about all the steps it takes to get to x=1.

When I think of a goal I work backwards and think of all the steps it will take to get there. The middle of a formula will sometimes feel confusing and messy and chaotic, but if you just write down the steps and follow the rules (or don’t follow them, I don’t care) you will come up with your own x=? Even if it’s not the answer someone else got, It’s your answer and as long as you are happy with the result, fuck ’em!

The trick is to LOVE the the messy middle part, it takes to create your own steps to get to “x”. These may change along the way if you change, there is more than one right way to get to x=?,  (in life, maybe not in math – I have forgotten ALL algebra after the age of 19, so you math nerds tell me)! but you can never, ever forget about all those messy steps in the middle. There is no shortcut or cheat sheet to success, sorry.

…And finally what would success be without a cat meme?