Life is an interesting journey.
One day you think you’ve finally got it all figured out and the next moment something unexpected happens, which completely shatters your reality.
Every year should be a year of growth and goals, but 2012 has taught me that life doesn’t always go according to plan, which in itself is one of the most powerful lessons we can learn.
I don’t know where your struggles or triumphs were this year, but for me, every area of my life was challenged. Beginning with my personal and professional relationships and then moving into my health and business.
2012 was a relentless teacher, but like Friedrich Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”
Here are the top 10 things I learned in 2012.
1. Balance Your Emotions
Never allow your emotions to run your life. It’s ok to feel things, but don’t allow your feelings to take charge. This is a powerful lesson I had to re-learn this year as I allowed my emotions to take control of a few areas of my life. I like to remind myself how the best quarterbacks in the NFL play when they’re under pressure. It doesn’t matter how great or terrible the game is going – they remain focused and move confidently towards the goal.
2. Fuel Your Body with Amazing Nutrition
Make no mistake – your body is a machine. If you want to be a high-performing individual in sports, business and life, you need to feed your body the proper fuel. I strongly recommend the documentary Food Matters – it will change the way you approach food by understanding how it shapes your body and mind.
3. Charge Your Life With Physical Power
Challenging your body with a workout program that works for you will help in so many areas of your life. The same discipline and commitment it takes to finish a workout are the same skills needed to follow though with anything else you want in life. CrossFit played a huge role in getting me through my hardest moments of 2012. Check out this article by Dan Martell on why CrossFit is the workout choice for entrepreneurs.
Committing yourself to being physically challenged is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. But if you don’t think you can stay committed – get a coach. Coaching is one the best ways to keep yourself motivated and experience growth. I highly recommend reading and following anything by Bob Harper, Jamie Eason, John Romaniello or Adam Bornstein to help whip you into shape.
4. Your Brand Is Your Reputation – And Your Reputation Is Your Brand
An incredible website or catchy mission statement are no substitutes for an outstanding reputation. Choosing to build a reputation on honesty, service and being a man or woman of your word will build your brand faster and stronger than any social media tool or seminar.
No matter which direction your professional life goes, you’ll always take your reputation with you. So ask yourself – what do I want to be known for?
5. Give, Give, Give
The great Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” I’ve noticed the more I give unconditionally to others, I’m somehow supplied with everything I need. This doesn’t mean you should go around helping people with an expectation of getting something in return. Your spirit of giving should remain pure with “no strings attached.” But don’t be surprised if unexpected blessing show up in your life.
6. Focus on Self Growth
It can be a scary thing to look deep inside yourself and face who you really are. Most people look away or distract themselves by accumulating “toys,” chasing praise or pursuing pleasure. But in order to grow you must first accept who you are and where you need to change. 2012 was a year of deep change for me, but it was much needed work that only I could do. Everyone has fears, issues, and things that hold them back, but have the choice to face those fears or walk away. I suggest making 2013 the year of facing your fears.
7. Invest in Yourself
Investing in healthy foods and coaches for both fitness and business will have a massive ROI. We are products of what we consume, so pay close attention to the foods you eat, the books your read and people your hang around with. Your goal should be to become the best version of yourself, and it’s impossible to do that without investing in yourself.
8. Relationships Are Everything
Maintaining strong relationships is important, but you’ve got to be picky with the types of people you’re building a relationship with. Are they holding you back or are they supportive of your efforts and pursuing their own growth as well? The last thing you need in your life is someone who makes you feel like crap for trying to move your life forward. So be honest with yourself and with others and let people know exactly what you need and what you are willing to give in any type of relationship. Distance yourself from those that aren’t supporting you, and focus more on those that do.
9. Show Others You Care
Theodore Roosevelt said “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Here’s a secret – I’ve never been the smartest guy in the room. I didn’t have best grades in high school, and it took me almost seven years to graduate college. But I learned very quickly that people care more about who YOU are, once the feel you care about who they are and what they want.
I’m happy to share my success with others and I do my best to demonstrate I truly care about the hopes and dreams of my audience.
Every human being has hopes, fears and struggles. You might be surprised with some of the things I struggle with and I’m sure I’d be surprised with with some of your struggles too. So the way I see it – we’re in this together.
10. Be Grateful
There’s no such thing as too much gratitude. We should never underestimate the power of gratitude in our lives, nor should we stop finding things to be grateful for. Every luxury, comfort and freedom you enjoy today is a result of someone else’s courage and innovation in the past.
Continue to focus on being happy for the things you have and stop paying attention to the selfish voices in your head that point out the places you lack.
As I mentioned earlier, your goal should be to create the best version of yourself, so don’t go chasing anyone else’s dreams and don’t allow yourself to be controlled by your own fears and emotions.
We’re in this together. Let’s crush 2013.
What’s your big fear you want to overcome and the big goal you want to accomplish in 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and lets make in an amazing year!
A version of this post originally appeared on the author’s blog.
Lewis Howes is lifestyle entrepreneur and former pro athlete. He builds million dollar businesses, is an author and teaches people how to grow their online business from anywhere in the world at http://lewishowes.com.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.