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My Best Advice for a Better Year

When you start the year with a firm intention, the right resolutions find you. Quick story: Seven years ago I was coming off a not-so-great year. And I decided the next year would be better—way better. Ever been there?

Lesson learned: Frustration can be your best springboard. Use it.

Right around the time I made that decision, I received a coupon in the mail from my gym for a free personal-training session. I had tried personal training before, always with mixed results—sometimes with no results. But with the free coupon, I thought why not?

Lesson learned: Take advantage of the unexpected. And go with your gut.

So I reached out to a trainer named James, partly because he was Italian like me but mostly because he looked like he enjoyed his work and was good at it. In his profile, he stressed competing not with others but with yourself. Bingo.

Within an hour of reaching out, I had an email back. James and I have now been working out together for the better part of seven years. In the first three months alone, I was able to get back into a pair of jeans that had long eluded me.

More importantly, 2012 was a very good year—the year I joined a new church, made new friends, reconnected with old friends, and started a journal for my young nephew that would lead to a series of books ... now with free shipping.

Lesson learned: Having more energy makes everything easier.

That last point was driven home again last summer. Thanks to the wonders of technology, it is now possible to get a phone call with tough news, two minutes before the start of your workout.

When that happens, you have two choices: give in and go home—or stay and push through it. Thanks to my trusty trainer, who is now a good friend, I went for Option B. The benefits of that workout lasted far beyond the hour. "Pushing through" would serve as a blueprint for handling more tough times to come.

Lesson learned: Make sure the folks around you bring out your best.

Somewhere in all of this, I spontaneously set a goal to bench-press two 35-pound dumbbells, fifteen times, by December 31st. A year ago, thanks to an injury, I couldn't press at all.

A lot of work and protein shakes later, Mission accomplished. I reached my goal last Thursday. For what it's worth, I can now bench-press the equivalent of a fourth-grader.

And while that may or may not sound like much, what counts is what our goal represents: in this case, more weight/reps than I've ever done in my life, and what I had to become and overcome to pull it off.

It all started with that silly coupon.

Lesson learned: Set goals that make you grow. That's where the fun is.

Where would you most like to grow this year? Even if your goal is spiritual, improving your physical health can help you get there faster. It's a lot easier to set boundaries, for example, when you're feeling strong and rested.

Photo of Gina DeLapa

Gina DeLapa is America's Ultimate Reminders® Coach, a sought-after speaker, and the proud creator of the Ultimate Reminders® book series. Her wise and witty reminders ("Beware the organization whose response to a burning building is to form a committee") will make you laugh, stir your soul, and inspire your best. If you're not already getting her free Monday-Morning Pep Talk, be sure to sign up now at UltimateReminders.com/mondaymorningpeptalk.