How to be a Goal Crusher: Part I

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I categorize myself as a “goal crusher.” I first heard the term during my 1.5 month stint working at a lululemon, when my then-store manager encouraged us to use the hashtag #goalcrushrepeat. I loved it then, but I didn’t really fully understand what goal crushing looked like until the past seven months happened.

In the last seven months, I have crushed some major life goals. I lost a bunch of weight, got the fittest I’ve ever been, ran my fourth marathon (in under five hours, finally!), competed in Miss Maryland USA, moved in with my boyfriend and added a furry family member, aced my first semester of teaching classes, was published on Thought Catalog, landed my very first full time teaching position, and began taking on goal coaching clients.

In seven months.

For comparison’s sake, this time last year, I was overweight, in a job that didn’t fulfill me, had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and was absolutely, without a doubt, miserable.

Some of you read that last sentence and found yourself nodding your head. You’re there right now, and you don’t know how to get out of it. You know, the funk.

Believe it or not, the funk is not forever. You can beat the slump – even if it is the worst slump of your entire life – by setting goals¬†and working every day towards accomplishing them. It doesn’t happen overnight, and some days will feel like your dream life is forever away, but I promise that with values-driven, dynamic, and ON PURPOSE goal setting, you can create a life that makes you freakin’ pumped to get up in the morning.

Okay? I promise. We’re going to get you there.

Interested? Here’s what we’re going to do. Today is the first of a three part series on how to be a Goal Crusher. Over the next three Wednesdays, find yourself right back here for a free download and a little bit of guidance.

Today’s free download has two parts: the first requires you to visualize exactly what you want your life to look like, and the second involves you quickly writing down what you see as your top three goals RIGHT. THIS. SECOND.

So, visualization. On the Goals! sheet, you’ll do this in the teal box. You might need more space — that’s a-ok! Just flip over the paper or use a notebook. If you’ve never done visualization before, it’s going to feel weird, but go with it! Trust me on this one.

Taking five to ten minutes (or more!), write or draw what your life would look like if you could snap your fingers and it was exactly what you wanted it to be. How much money would you make? What job would you have? Are you married or not? What do you do in your free time? The more descriptive, the better. If you’re writing, use first person and present tense. The goal here is to get your dream life written down.

Once you’ve finished, take 30 seconds to jot down the first three goals that enter your mind. No extra time! Write them down right away.

Okay, that’s all for this time. If you loved this exercise and it got you excited, please share! Just make sure to include where you got the goodies ūüôā

Want individualized help? I offer that too, and it’s totally affordable. Shoot me an email and we’ll get started.

 

The only thing that sucks about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show

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I’m already mentally preparing myself for tomorrow night. In case you’re out of the loop, tomorrow, Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding, The Weeknd, and nearly 50 of the most beautiful women in the world will be broadcast into our living rooms for the 2015 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (CBS, 10pmEST).

And my social media feeds will be filled with body hate, skinny shaming, and vows to quit eating carbs forever.

For whatever reason, seeing other women looking confident in lingerie triggers our evolutionary jealousy reaction, and it makes us all say bad things. About the models. About skinny women. About ourselves.

The only thing that sucks about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is the way women react to it.

It may not even be intentional. Subconsciously, we may genuinely feel inferior or self-conscious. But perhaps that is less an indication that the Fashion Show needs to go and more indicative of women, as a whole, needing a little help in the self-love department.

The solution isn’t to get rid of anything that might make us feel inferior, but instead to question why other women succeeding makes us feel¬†inferior in the first place. Lily Aldridge looking totally gorgeous in a $2 million dollar bra doesn’t make the rest of us any less hot in our off-the-rack counterpart. The two are not mutually exclusive.

And so, today, I’d like to challenge women (and men!) to try their hardest to follow the advice of Thumper from Bambi: “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say anything at all.” At least with regards to the women modeling, and, of course, with regards to yourself. Here’s a few of the worst offenders:

“Today is the day where every girl’s self esteem goes down the drain.” Why? Because there are fifty women in the world with the proportions perfect for modeling bras and panties? Why not instead use¬†the VSFS as an opportunity to celebrate our¬†bodies, as the unique and awesome things that they are?¬†Here, I’ll start: I’m 5’6″ with a booty and some thighs. They’re awesome because they help me run marathons and deadlift 230+ pounds.

“I wish the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show would show *Real* Women.” What do you think these women are? Holograms? I hate to break it to you: some women are genetically engineered as six-foot-tall glamazons with both boobs and a booty. And you know what? These women work really hard to maintain their figures. They work out, they eat healthy food, and many have been working for most of their young adult lives to find their way onto that stage. It’s not nice to skinny shame, just like it’s not nice to fat shame.

“Today is the day I stop eating.” “Tomorrow, I need to get on the treadmill for hours.” “BRB throwing up my dinner.”¬†If you are not eating, throwing up your meals, or exercising as punishment, you need to hear that your feelings¬†about food are not normal or healthy, and there are people who can help. It is possible to have a healthy relationship with food. Here are several places you can start. If, however, you are posting about these things for likes and click bait, you are being irresponsible, and¬†you need to stop.

This year, let’s try to be better. Let’s recognize that negative commentary – whether it’s about the models or ourselves – does nothing but make us feel (and look!)¬†bad. That the sexiest thing about the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show isn’t the lingerie or the sky high heels or the women’s bodies… The sexiest thing about the show is their confidence. It’s that each woman is on that stage, owning her moment, and loving herself.

This year, let’s try to suck a little less in our reactions to the show. And if you really, truly hate it? Don’t watch it at all.

 

 

 

Don’t wait for the New Year.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about goals recently. After competing in Miss Maryland USA, finishing the Marine Corps Marathon, and somehow finding myself in my CrossFit gym’s competition class, I’ve been¬†experiencing what I’ve come to know as “goal hangover.”

Goal hangover is when you’ve crushed one (or a few) of your major goals, and then, after you take time to celebrate it, you’re left with this “okay… and now what?” feeling. It’s goal hangover because, like an actual hangover, you kind of feel… blah.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about goals. What now? What do I really, really want? What direction do I go in, how do I get myself there, and where do I even start?

Most people in this goal hangover situation would wait until the New Year — after all, it’s only a month away. But waiting until the New Year means¬†that you’ve lost an entire month that you could have used to get closer to your dreams.

So here we go — I’m about to blow your mind. You don’t need a new year, a new month, or even a Monday¬†to set goals. You only need an hour or two of time to yourself, a few pieces of paper, and a pen that won’t give out on you.

Write them down. One of my favorite writers, Brian Tracy, has taught me that the action of writing out your goals increases the likelihood that you will achieve them by a thousand percent. Why? Because when you write down what you want, you commit it to your subconscious mind. The action of writing is powerful; it subconsciously affirms what we really want and our commitment to get after it.

Start with your vision. In order to know what your goals are, you have to know where you are going and why you want to get there. The first step is writing out your vision for your life, whether it be one, five, or ten years down the road. If you’ve never done this before, it’s going to feel funny. That’s okay — discomfort helps us to grow. Write your vision in first person present tense, and get specific! What is it like when you wake up in the morning? What do you smell or hear? Are you married? With children or without? How do you use your time? What does your job look like? What is your dog’s name? Don’t restrict yourself or convince yourself it’s stupid– this is your dream life. If you can imagine it,¬†it’s important to you. Write it down!

Next, identify exactly what you want. Again, don’t restrict yourself! How are you ever going to get the life you’ve always imagined if you don’t even give yourself the permission to dream about it? Take time to read through your vision and identify what you want in each key area of your life: personal, career, family, and health. What do you want to accomplish in the next year? The next five years? The next ten? Write down a goal for each area and for each span of time. Again, specificity is key!

Give yourself deadlines and deliverables. What will signify that you’ve accomplished your goal? How long do you think you’ll need to accomplish it? Be realistic but also challenging with your deliverables and deadlines. If a goal isn’t lofty enough, you’ll be less enticed to get started today.

Take action! Do something — anything! — to get yourself moving towards your dreams as soon as possible. Like, as soon as you’ve finished getting them in ink. Decide what steps you can take to get going, and get. it. done. ¬†If you want to lose ten pounds, go for a run or sign up for an exercise class. Want to get out of debt? Make a small payment towards your credit card.¬†It doesn’t have to be big action, it just has to be forward progress.

Revisit your goals daily. I like to write mine down often, because the act of writing is so powerful and helps to clarify exactly what I want. Doing this in the morning helps you to start your day focused on working towards you biggest and baddest dreams. Doing this is going to make you feel like a rockstar, trust me.

Consider this: you have $1,000 that you intend to place in a savings account. The banker gives you two options. You can begin earning 5% interest today or you can wait, and begin earning 5% interest on January 1st. Which would you choose?

The obvious choice is to start making more money today.

So don’t wait for the New Year. ¬†Or Monday. You don’t need a special day to chase your dreams. You can get after them today. Right now, even. Grab a pen and get started.

If you’re interested in more one-on-one help with clarifying and crushing your goals, I’d love to help! For more information and rates, drop me a line at jengilbert11@gmail.com.

Sportsmanship: lessons from pre-teens

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I have a confession: I am a reality TV junkie. I’m in recovery, and currently, I’m only really following two shows: America’s Next Top Model (no shame) and, what is easily the best show on TV, MasterChef Junior.

Now, if you haven’t seen MasterChef Junior, you’re probably rolling your eyes. A cooking show? Really? The best show on television? I mean, have you seen Scandal?

Yes, I have, and yes, really, MasterChef Junior comes out on top.

The premise of the show is this: 24 uber-talented pre-teen chefs compete each week to prove they are America’s best at-home kid cook and win $100,000. Through a series of challenges, they are eliminated one by one until only one chef remains.

In a line up flooded with drama-fueled housewives, shouting presidential candidates, and yet-another-doctor show,¬†MasterChef Junior is a bright spot in TV land today. Besides being absolutely adorable, it’s an hour long schooling¬†in sportsmanship each week. Here’s the top five lessons from this season so far:

Feedback from experts is valuable, and you should follow it. On the show, the home cooks are mentored by three professional chefs, including Gordon Ramsay. Throughout each challenge, the mentors give feedback to the contestants. Unlike similar shows with grown up contestants, the kids actually listen to the expert. They don’t make excuses, they don’t roll their eyes when Gordon leaves. They listen, they make changes, and they say thank you.

By helping each other, everyone rises. In this past episode, the contestants had to cook scallops. One contestant completely torched all of the scallops she had grabbed, which would have easily eliminated her from the competition. Instead of crying, she asked her fellow competitors if they had extra scallops she could have. In a mind-blowing twist, multiple contestants just gave her their extras. Not a single cook tried to make her fail or blamed her for her error: they had extras and they shared.

It’s okay to celebrate another person’s victory. For each challenge, just like the adult show, there is only one winner. Unlike the adult show, however, every other contestant celebrates the winner. Once they announce the winner of a challenge, the winner is enveloped in hugs from their fellow competitors, and undoubtedly, there is an interview clip of another contestant congratulating the winner and complimenting their dish.

Losing is tough, but it’s possible to do it with grace. While there’s a winner each week, there’s also a loser. When the loser is announced, they typically cry and then are surrounded by their friends. The other contestants exchange hugs, pat the eliminated cook’s back, and console them. Then, when they show the exit interview, the child usually talks about how proud they are of themselves and of their fellow contestants.

The real purpose isn’t to win. The real purpose is to have fun and make friends.¬†Not only do these kids genuinely love, care for, and celebrate each other, they also totally love their craft. Even when they are frustrated, not a single one wants to quit. They care less about the grand prize and are more focused on living in the moment, seizing their opportunity, learning as much as they can, and getting to do what they love.

You can catch MasterChef Junior Fridays at 8/7C on Fox. Or, if you’re like me, you can catch up on Hulu.

I am a professional loser.

When I was in high school, all I ever wanted was to be an officer in student government. I wanted to make a difference, and I had this idea in my head that the only way I could make a difference, truly, was to be elected into a position.

Okay, fine. I was a power hungry 16-year-old. I wanted that line on my resume.

But seriously – I wanted to be an elected officer so badly that I ran for some sort of office a grand total of eight times during my high school tenure, from class president to student government treasurer and even student representative to the school board (twice!).

And I lost. Eight times.

This past weekend, I lost again. I prepared for four months, lost thirty pounds, performed my very best on stage and in interview, felt amazing, and still failed to make the top 16 at Miss Maryland USA. I’ve already written about how pageantry is subjective, so all I’ll add is: my omission from the top 16 was in no way reflective of my worth¬†or of the judges’ competence. That top 16 was full of smart, talented, and beautiful women who ALSO would have been outstanding Miss Maryland USAs. There is room for everyone to be fully qualified and deserving — on this particular weekend, I was not this particular panel’s choice, and that is okay.

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I am a professional loser. I am tenacious and it takes a lot to knock me down. I take risks, I sign up, I show up, and, about 80% of the time, it just doesn’t pan out for me. And while that 20% success rate is always worth it,¬†I’ve found a few ways to make being a perpetual loser way more fun as you propel yourself towards your greatest successes:

Realize that “winning” isn’t the only way to be a winner.¬†For most things that are worthwhile, you invest a significant amount¬†of your time, energy, and passion. If your only goal is winning – which, in many cases, is not 100% in your control – you’re automatically setting yourself up for failure. You have to understand¬†the value of investing so much of yourself into a goal regardless of the outcome. For that reason, I always set a goal outside of winning, one that is entirely within my control. This time, it was simply to get up on that stage as the healthiest and happiest version of myself. Mission accomplished. Long before the “winner” was crowned, I had already won.

Learn to love the process. Competing in Miss Maryland USA required me to fully commit myself. I had to push through tough workouts, be grumpy, do things that I didn’t necessarily want to do in the moment, and get a little bit uncomfortable. If I hadn’t found a way to love the process, I would have been absolutely miserable for a significant chunk of life. Luckily, I found CrossFit, which gave me PRs weekly, and signed myself up for races. I bought myself new sports bras and found joy in seeing myself shrink. There are many ways to love your process, and you’ve got to find what works for you.

Be present and in the moment. This past weekend, thanks to the advice of my pretty amazing life coach, Kali, I made it my weekend goal to be present and in the moment. I focused less on what was coming, and more on enjoying every moment of rehearsal, hair and make-up, and, of course, meeting some incredible women. My way of being present was to try and make every interaction I had over the weekend positive. Whether it be cracking jokes with another contestant, making silly faces at teens when I was on stage, or telling staff members thank you, my goal was to leave every person I had contact with a little bit happier.

Be grateful. One of the best pieces of advice I received over the weekend was “It is impossible to be grateful and nervous at the same time.” And so, all weekend, I reminded myself how grateful I was not only for the opportunity to compete, but also for exactly where I was in my life right now. I am strong, happy, and loved. I have so many people in my life who support me win, lose, or draw. There is always so much to be grateful for.

Be happy for the winner, genuinely. I think that one of our biggest downfalls as people is that we don’t realize that the success of others is not always at our expense.¬†Every single woman on that stage had prepared in her own way for the¬†opportunity to be Miss Maryland USA. Her preparation may have been different than mine, but she worked hard, too. In recognition of her commitment and hard work, and in appreciation of my own hard work, I would have been genuinely happy for any woman crowned because she¬†freakin’ earned it.

Reflect, adapt, grow. Losing can often be far more beneficial than winning because it gives you an opportunity to honestly and humbly reflect on your performance and analyze areas where you could improve. And then, you get to do it. You get to make necessary adjustments and come back better than ever.

It took me eight losses in high school elections to win my very first elected position, one that changed my life completely: vice president of membership of my sorority in college.¬†Ultimately, you can’t win if you don’t enter. Not putting yourself out there doesn’t just guarantee you won’t win, it also guarantees you won’t grow. I may have lost the crown this past weekend, but I still think I came out on top¬†(including an award for top score in evening gown!). And I’m pretty excited to see what’s next.

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