What I Learned in 2017

There is no doubt that for me, 2017 was a year of exponential growth and taking big, fat, scary chances.

In April, I became a NASM certified Personal Trainer. I continued to work my full time corporate job, and in May launched my signature online coaching program, Focused Fitness Coaching. I did a lot of soul searching and by October, quit my corporate gig in favor of training full time at the Wisconsin Athletic Club and doubling down on my online business. Along the way, I also re-branded and re-launched my website and had my first ever professional photo shoot for the same.

It all happened very fast, and quite honestly, at times I was scared out of my mind. I cut my annual salary by tens of thousands of dollars. That’s no joke. And I made the leap based solely on a gut feeling. I thought – and hoped beyond hope – that I would be happier knowing every day I was able to make a difference in people’s lives through health and fitness.

Thankfully, my gut was onto something.

Throughout the year, I have fluctuated from scared out of my mind to insanely happy. I have gone through plenty of self-doubt and second guessing. And through all the lessons I learned this year, I know I have become a stronger person and am more ready than ever to help others build healthier, happier lives!

Here’s what 2017 has taught me:

“The key to success is to start before you are ready.” – Marie Forleo

We can circle around and around about whether or not we are “ready” to start something new. There is always something else we feel we “have to do” before being ready to make a change in our lives. One of the biggest lessons I have learned this year is that we simply have to start before we are ready. We will learn everything we need to along the way.

Sure, you will make mistakes. We all do. I know I have made plenty. But what’s the point in delaying the inevitable? If we know a change is needed, why can’t we start now? Why can’t we begin to change our lives for the better this very second?

The answer is, of course we can. And we should. Start living the life you’ve always wanted – and do it without delay. Almost like your life depended on it – because, in fact, it does.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln

I have always struggled with anxiety. I get caught up in the future and lose sight of the present – busily thinking about all of the things that could, should, or may happen. Some of these thoughts are beautiful, shiny day dreams, and others cripple me with anxiety and leave me feeling hopeless.

By getting caught up in the future, I put myself through a lot of unnecessary anger, anxiety and fear. As Mark Twain once said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.”

This year, I have tried very hard to focus instead on actively creating the life I want to live. Pulling myself back into the present, and taking steps to make my hopes and dreams actually happen. All I have is this present moment, and I have learned I have to make the best of it.

“Wherever you are – be all there.” – Jim Elliot

At the end of August, my husband and I were lucky enough to travel to Greece on our honeymoon. One of the things that struck me the most during my time there was the lack of people sucked into their phones, tablets and computers. Everywhere we went, people were happily chatting with their neighbors or spending time celebrating the moment with family and friends.

It was the perfect reminder I needed to disconnect from technology for a while and focus on living in the present. It was insanely refreshing and it brought me immense joy to really be “there” with my husband and our friends. This lesson is something I try to practice daily now, and it never ceases to fail me.

“Our fantasies are our realities in an excuse-free world.” – Jen Sincero

For many years, I was living my life with a victim mindset. Everything that was happening, was happening to me. I felt I had no control over the situations in my life, and instead had an excuse for everything. I had an excuse for why I wasn’t happy at work – it was my boss, my coworkers, the never-ending meetings. An excuse for why I wasn’t eating healthy or working out – my knees hurt and everyone knew I couldn’t cook. And I had an excuse for why my relationships were suffering – hint: it was always the other person’s fault.

The moment I let those excuses go and chose to acknowledge that I am an active participant in my own life – that I did indeed have control over my actions, my reactions, my thoughts and my beliefs – I became free. I realized that I had the power to live a healthier, happier life. That I could make a difference in other people’s lives as well. To this day, it is the greatest realization I have ever had, and one that I never want to forget.

“The key to serenity is trusting that the universe has your back.” – Gabrielle Bernstein

On April 26th of this year, I went to a book signing for Jen Sincero’s latest book, “You are a Badass at Making Money.” At that point in time, I had just received my personal training certification, and was trying to figure out how I could use it in the online space. Despite the book having just come out, I had already listened to almost all of it on Audible. I was super excited to be there, but still unsure of what the future had in store.

Then something cool happened. While I was in line waiting to get my book signed by Jen, the person I had been sitting next to at the reading started talking to me. We were just chatting, talking about why we were there and what we had going on in our lives. I mentioned my website and the vague plan I had for Focused Fitness Coaching – still not fully formed. I had my picture taken with Jen, got my signed copy, and was planning on looking around the bookstore a little while longer. As I was leaving, the woman I had been talking to asked me for my card, and told me she was interested in being a client of mine.

I had not expected this in the slightest.

In my mind, I was simply making small talk and enjoying my night at the reading. But the inquiring gesture and interest from this stranger was the affirmation I didn’t know I needed. I called my husband giddy with happiness. This could actually work. People were actually interested in what I had to offer. I couldn’t believe it.

I looked down at my book, and read Jen’s note: “Zoe – you got this!”

Yes, I guess I do.

It’s amazing what happens when I simply do my best and then let go, letting the chips fall where they may. Fate, miracles, beautiful coincidences – whatever you want to call them. They happen all the time, but too often we are too guarded to see them. It is pretty incredible what can happen when we let the universe work it’s magic.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This year has been a tough one for the United States. We have seen a lot of tragedy, a lot of divisiveness. And it reminds me every day to try my hardest to be the change I wish to see in the world.

I can’t always make a large impact, but I can choose to be a positive, helping hand when those around me need it most. I can stand up for what I believe in, like marching on January 21st in the Women’s March. And I can do little things like plant a garden with my husband, so we can have fresh, organic produce and share it with friends, family and neighbors. I can focus on giving every client my best, so they can leave their workout feeling refreshed and having learned something new.

We have the opportunity every day to make a difference in people’s lives. We simply have to choose to take it.

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.” – Elisabeth Elliot

As I’ve learned over the past couple of months, it can be very easy to doubt yourself when you take a big chance in life. Although I know that quitting my secure, soul-sucking job was indeed exactly what I needed, there have been quite a few times where I have broken down in tears, wondering what the hell I’ve done.

It’s easy to look back on past experiences and see them through rose-colored glasses. It’s hard to march into the unknown with rock-hard resolve. Some of the best advice I have received as of late was to stop doubting my decisions. To know, deep down, that things will work out in the end – and to see, even now, that things are already better, and my life already infinitely more happy. Why pick apart something that is good, when instead I can focus on enjoying everything I have built so far?

“You can’t jump from little things to big things. It takes time and patience.” – Nadia Comaneci

I have come to realize that whenever I set a goal for myself, progress is always slower than I would like. The instant I make a decision to do something, I want it to happen right away. But you can’t get to that next big milestone without putting in the work. You have to be patient, and know these things take time for a reason. There are still so many lessons to learn, so many new goals to achieve. I have learned that no matter how much it frustrates the hell out of me, I have to put in the work, and I have to do it to the best of my abilities. And when I do, I can achieve the very stuff of my dreams.

“Indeed, this life is a test. It is a test of many things – of our convictions and priorities, our faith and our faithfulness, our patience and resilience, and in the end, our ultimate desires.” – Sheri L. Dew

What did 2017 teach you? What does that mean for you going forward into the New Year?


Zoe Lauryn

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