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Falling in love with running again

Addiction is funny. Conveniently, but simultaneously inconveniently, so is love. When you put those two together in a cake mix, it’s hard not to find a delicious treat waiting on the other side of a burning oven.

From around 2010 to 2018, I was addicted to running. Conveniently, but simultaneously inconveniently, I also loved to run. With those two facets of life working in tandem, it became not just something that I enjoyed as a hobby, but a massive part of my identity. Much of the day’s plans revolved around when I could run and how I was to fit the run into the grander scheme of my life. I can vividly remember a semester where I would run 20k’s with ease, hop in the shower, and then immediately race to class. Once class ended, I would run back. Backpack on and everything.

I ran so much that, like most elite runners, I developed unhealthy habits around eating, destroyed my body, and sometimes even failed to prioritize other important aspects of my life. I craved the run, and when I couldn’t perform to the highest level, it was devastating. And I liked it that way. I genuinely enjoyed being known as the crazy guy who would wake up at 4AM to hit a 20k before class or work. I challenged the pressure to perform at a high level and medal at every single half marathon I competed in. I challenged rolling through the country roads of Waterloo hours on end. I enjoyed the exploration of it all – finding new trails, climbing mountains, discovering new runs, even learning the entire KW region through running the streets. It helped me get out my thoughts. It helped me fully flesh out my ideas for whatever piece of fiction I was writing at the time. It even helped me become a better me, in many ways.

But ultimately, an addiction is an addiction, and it all came crashing down in April of 2018, when I pulled my hamstring somewhere along the way of my favourite race – the Run for Retina Half Marathon. What’s cool is that I still placed third. What’s not cool is that I was out for six months, predominantly as a result of trying to run in the days that followed the race, without giving myself the proper recovery time. Devastating at the time, the injury was an incredibly valuable learning experience. And above all else, it killed my addiction.

But now four years on, I’m still dealing with the physical repercussions of that injury. My body has never fully recovered from the pain sustained in that period, and I’ve suffered a host of injuries any time I’ve tried to sustain a consistent week of running, or sped up the pace. My hamstrings are the worst of the issues, but the surrounding area finds itself injured all the time. Right now, literally as I write, I’m dealing with a single shin splint, a pulled groin that I’ve had since May (clearly I haven’t learned the lesson of not running on an injury), and a foot injury from stepping on a weight (I really like to dance). Accidents aside, all of these injuries are down my left side – the same side of my pulled hamstring back in 2018. This has all meant that I’ve never been able to become re-addicted to the sport (nice!), and that for a while, I fell completely out of love for running (not so nice!).

People who knew 2018 me still ask about running as though it’s one of my defining personality traits, and I’m sure my family still thinks of me as impossible to travel with, even despite that loss of addiction. But for the past two winters, I hardly ran at all – opting for the indoor bike instead. It became easy to not only have no desire to go outside and run, but to become lazy in my fitness goals and actively prioritize watching soccer matches instead. When people would ask, I’d tell them “I run for fun now!” But looking back, I wonder if I genuinely meant it. I saw it as a tedious task to stay fit, and at best – an easy way to be out enjoying nature. But it took a while for me to accept that I didn’t actually enjoy running, and it took me a while to re-find my sense of purpose on the run.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of that. I genuinely don’t want to get addicted to running again. But at the same time, there’s no better feeling than the sense of accomplishment after a long run or an intense effort during a race. The run still calls me, and I still crave those feelings. I miss the flow, and I crave the runner’s high. At what has become a difficult point in my life, I have turned to running as a way of curing my mind from the pain. And it’s been beautiful. I’ve found all the secrets to loving running – and it involves travelling to new trails, different cities around the province, and turning it into a session of exploration.

I’m not obsessed with how fast I’m going (unless I’ve got a brunch to attend an hour away), and I’m not even training for any specific reason or purpose. For years I swore off listening to music on the run, as a true sign of inferiority. I saw it as a sign of someone who didn’t really get the whole idea of being in nature, being surrounded by your thoughts, and running wherever the wind takes you. Now I never go for a run without listening to a podcast (or even music!), and I never let it distract me from getting into my thoughts, reflecting on life, and staying in touch with how I’m feeling. Sometimes, I don’t even bring my watch.

I think this has all been beautiful in taking the pressure off, as my care-free mindset makes all the injuries so much less mentally taxing. But at the same time, I think I’m ready to train with purpose and intentionality of racing again. I think I’m ready to love running again, without the addiction, and conquer all of the goals I set out to achieve back before my injury hit in 2018. I still want to run an ultramarathon (and the full shebang 42.2km), and now I have new goals of running the entirety of the Paris-Cambridge Trail for starters…possibly even the entire 83km long haul from Hamilton to Cambridge. If the injuries can just hold off, I think I’m genuinely ready to fall in love again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rhys Desmond is a writer, coach and personal development enthusiast. If you are interested in getting in touch, please use the form or social media links below.


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Leap into action in 2022…

“Knowledge is not power. It’s only potential power. It only becomes power when we apply it and use it.” – Jim Kwik

At the beginning of 2021, a life coach said to me “Do you want it to happen in 2021, or 2022?” The answer was easy. I wanted it – whatever it was – to happen in 2021. What was I waiting for? What was I afraid of? I don’t remember. In fact, I don’t even remember what that conversation was about. But I remember immediately wanting to take action, and reaping the rewards. Later on in 2021, I recalled that sentiment when I made the decision to leave the soccer world, that I had worked in for nearly a decade, to take on a new opportunity in a new city. The result is this – I, like Billie Eilish, am now happier than ever.

At the beginning of September, I went on a trip with my co-workers. The trip was from our door, to a door down the hall. When we arrived, there was a problem…seemingly. The door was closed, and the person inside had a telephone to her ear. She was clearly busy, and my co-workers did not want to disturb. But we had a dilemma. We had just travelled out from our door to this other door, and desperately wanted to get inside. I, as the newbie of the group, initially planned on following the lead of the more experienced door-knockers of the group. So, we waited, standing there, looking at the walls. Then a thought hit me. ‘What are we doing waiting outside the door? Why aren’t we just knocking on the door, and claiming what we need??’ This is literal, but the metaphor is perhaps even more powerful than the bizarre, inconsequential story I’m telling you. Stop standing outside the door, waiting to get in. Go through the door, head first, and claim what is yours to claim. So that’s exactly what I did. Despite being the newbie, I decided to be assertive, open the door and tell the person we were going to swing around to our space. The result? We got in, no harm done, and claimed what was rightfully ours.

As much as I reflect and look to improve on a daily basis, I don’t regret any of the actions that I took in 2021. But I do regret some of the inactions. Psychologists would tell me, and you too, that this is quite common. People regret the time they didn’t spend with loved ones, the people they didn’t go up and talk to, and the life decisions they didn’t make. But far more rarely, do people regret taking a leap, making a decision, and putting a thought into action. Why? Because every single action presents you with a learning experience. The only learning experience that inaction presents you, is you telling yourself to be braver next time.

So as we approach 2022 and you get out the old trusted notebook to write down your resolutions for the new year, remember that accomplishing your goals is more than just thinking out loud like Ed Sheeran.

“An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goals than a mile of intention.”

Steve Maraboli

It’s one thing to have New Year’s Resolutions. But it’s another to actually think about how you’re going to put those resolutions into practice. A clear intention of wanting to improve in the New Year is amazing, but if you don’t think more deeply about how you’re going to get there, you are destined for failure. So as you’re creating your objectives for 2022, take some time to write down how you’re going to accomplish those goals. Then when it comes time, don’t be afraid to leap into action. Chances are, you won’t regret it. But if you don’t take action, you just might.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rhys Desmond is a writer, coach and personal development enthusiast. If you are interested in getting in touch, please use the form or social media links below.


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Too good at goodbyes

I’ve never quite understood why, but I’m a massive fan of stairs. I think there’s something so powerful about charging up something seemingly challenging, that not everyone endeavours to tackle. When you reach the top, you can’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, (perhaps even a loss of breath), as you stand at the top of your new destination.

Whenever I’m travelling to a new trail, I always explore every off-road path, just to see where life takes me, and the potential vantage point the new path provides. Stairways are my favourite of all the off-roading paths, as it’s almost implied that the destination is going to be worth the journey.

But it’s never long before you get bored of the view, and race away, seeking a new set of stairs, and a new challenge to climb.

Since 2020, I have left three jobs to propel my career path in a new direction. In that time, three of the four jobs I’ve taken on have made me the youngest person to ever hold the position. Sometimes that results in a lack of full value and respect, but the stairs, and what lies at the end of those steps, are always worth the climb.

I’ve spoken many times about the importance of taking risks, and there’s something that severely excites me about the idea of taking that daunting next step for what could turn out to be a better career path, or even a better life.

I knew I was leaving my last job for nine months before accepting my next role. This time around, it took a small bit of build-up toward a nine minute phone call, for everything to change. Plan C quickly became Plan A, and I realized it was time to leave the greatest stairway I’ve ever climbed.

That’s not to say that the decision was easy. I felt devastated for the days that followed over the thought of leaving the kids and their families behind, saying goodbye to my two best friends, and the best boss I’ve ever had. But the risk, and the potential reward that will accompany that, is simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.

So now devastation day will come tomorrow, when I make it official and leave what has been the best experience I’ve ever had at a workplace. It will take some beating for me to walk into an organization again, utterly unpronounced, and completely kickstart into motion everything the organization had been calling for. It will take some beating for me to develop such close bonds with the people that we serve, become like family with the other full-time supervisory staff within just days of knowing them, and to fit into the entire identity of everything we wanted to accomplish.

For the first time ever leaving a position, I don’t feel confident that I will be happier with what’s on the other side. But I also know that the lack of room for progression meant that I never would have stayed past June, without a similar career-changing upgrade in title and pay. I’ve never been sailing, but I can see when the ship is sinking around me. And as much as I desperately wanted to help steady the ship and keep it afloat, I also wanted to feel that reciprocated.

When a substantially bigger ship suddenly soars along the sea, offering a secure future within this unsteady world, it’s difficult not to jump on board.

So I leave with a tremendous sense of sadness of what I’m leaving behind and everything I had been building toward. But I have to focus on the future, and everything I can now accomplish moving forward by taking this step.

As for devastation day itself, hopefully I can be like Sam Smith, and be way too good at this goodbye. More than any other time in my life, I want to maintain these relationships, find a way to ensure I’m part of their lives, and not leave without first allowing the organization to be set up for future success. I will always wish that things could have been different. But it’s time to seek a new destination.

– Rhys Desmond

Staying intrinsically motivated…

The number one task of anyone, in any position, anywhere in the world, should be to stay intrinsically motivated. In anything that we do in life, we must stay motivated within the realms of our own grasp, with our own passion and love propelling us forward like a helicopter. Unfortunately, unless you’re able to wake up one day and come to full enlightenment like Eckhart Tolle, that is unrealistic for the vast majority of us.

You may think – ‘well, that’s a pessimistic mindset, Rhys.’ I agree. Going through a degree in Recreation & Leisure, I constantly learned of the importance of ‘intrinsic motivation’ – discussed as some sort of easily achievable feat. When you take a walk around the slow-moving clock of life, you realize that as human beings, we desperately crave external motivation. We desperately crave money, and we feel devalued when we are not paid our worth. We desperately crave love and affection from others, including words and actions that affirm our efforts. Depending on how you give and receive love (and if you believe in love languages altogether), you may even be someone that values gifts or acts of service when you put in the work.

We’re taught to think of this process as linear. We put in the work, that hard work pays off in success, and we receive some kind of retribution for that work – whether it be positive affirmation, money, the admiration of others, a trophy, or all of those wonders and more. Not to be Eeyore again, but this line of thinking only creates stress. Our burning need for reward will inevitably be bound to go unmet. The process of putting in work and then reaping the rewards is not only a fallacy, but a process that never enters the realm of linearity. It’s about as linear as the charging chord for a phone. It might start out straight and pristine at the very beginning, but soon there will be a loopty loop, twist, turn, bend…perhaps even a crack. That is – we may receive some kind of retribution for our success, but it may not always be the type of reward we’re looking for; and it may not even come right away.

So what does that mean? Well, you need to be prepared for the fact that nobody will serve that love language you require on a platter. Nobody will tell you you’re doing a good job. If you are someone that appreciates words of affirmation, you may need to be the one that speaks what everyone else wouldn’t dare to say. If you are someone that loves gifts catered toward you and your fantastic work, you may need to play the role of Santa. If you love acts of service, you might even realize that no one is going to do things for you, and that you need to start doing things for yourself. The realization of this fact can only help you strive toward intrinsic motivation. You must be the one to keep yourself in check. You must be the one to celebrate your success stories. It’s a pessimistic viewpoint, yes. But one that will help you strive toward positivity within the inevitable disappointments of life; and toward whatever it is that you’re chasing in life.

In my dream organization, as part of my dream world, human beings strive to always positively affirm the efforts of others, and find the good in the situation even when the charging chord has exploded into a thousand wires. But in a post-pandemic world, I often find that we as humans are wired to scan for the negative, and scan for the problems. Rather than scanning for all the challenges and difficulties in life that we should strive to meet head on, we’re scanning for how we can avoid any situation at any turn. With this recognition in mind, I am going to endeavour to scan for the positive in life, and work to positively reaffirm others in a way that suits their needs. But this not only includes the work of others, but the work of myself. After all, I need to be the one to celebrate my success stories.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rhys Desmond is a writer, coach and personal development enthusiast. If you are interested in getting in touch, please use the form or social media links below.


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How to stay physically active in the winter

When it comes to exercise, or rather, a lack of exercise, everyone has their own excuse. Whether it be time, or money, or not having a workout buddy, there are so many excuses that people make when it comes to exercising. As the Holly Jolly festive winter season approaches, one more excuse is often added into the exercise excuse cake mix. That would be the cold. And not the coughing kind, but the windy, snowy, weather kind. But if you truly want to become the best version of yourself, you cannot let yourself surrender to any cake mix excuses, including the weather, no matter how depressing. So with that, today, I’m going to be giving you tips and tricks to ensure you find a way to workout in any weather. Let’s get right into it.

FINDING AN ACTIVITY YOU ENJOY

When it comes to physical activity, you need to stop making excuses for yourself. You can easily workout in the comfort of your own home with just a tiny little 4×4 box of space. Stop telling yourself that you don’t have the space to workout at home, or that you need the accountability of going somewhere and getting it done. We both know that’s not helping you. So the first tip I have for you in your quest to workout during the winter months, is to clear some space in your own home, and find a comfortable space (or even a yoga mat) by which you can make your warrior zone. You don’t need a home gym with weights, bars and benches. You simply just need space, and access to a computer. Yes, it’s really that easy.

When it comes to working out at home, there are endless opportunities. So the first step in feeling comfortable and confident in your home, away from the cold and away from any other external pressures, is to discover what type of workout you want to enjoy. To start this quest, all you need to do is go to the internet, visit the great YouTube.com, and type in exactly what kind of workout you want to enjoy. This could range from “yoga for lower back” to “kickboxing no equipment” to “insane brutal HIIT”. Instantly, hundreds of results will come up, where highly-trained, highly cool, fitness trainers will lead you through a workout. All you have to do is follow along to the workout video and workout alongside your new workout buddy – a.k.a. the fitness guru who will give you a reason to sweat. Having some sort of device like a laptop that you can hook up to an HDMI on a bigger screen will be of value to you in this quest, but you’d also be fine following along via your phone or any other kind of device with internet access. This really isn’t rocket science. But it’s science that will make you into the rocket you know you want to be.

One of the best things about YouTube as a workout resource – there are videos for virtually any age, any ability, and any amount of equipment or space available. You really only need access to the internet, and something comfortable like a mat if you don’t already have comfortable flooring. Otherwise, you’re set. And you don’t even need to do sets. I would argue that the best possible workout that you can get on YouTube is what is called a ‘HIIT’ – which stands for high intensity interval training. But you can search for anything from yoga to pilates to kickboxing to cycling (if you have an indoor bike of course). It doesn’t need to be the most intense workout of your life. It’s just about making exercise easier for you during the winter months, and not allowing yourself any excuses. So try different types of workouts and different instructors out, and find what you like.

My favourite YouTube trainer is Heather Robertson. Her videos are great for both men and women, and she has a wide variety of workouts on her channel – from HIIT’s, to kickboxing, to weightlifting, to yoga and pilates. She also has a nice variety of workouts lasting for different lengths of time, allowing you to select the type of workout that works best for you. If you’re feeling in the festive spirit, I’ve linked one of my favourite videos from her below – where she does a whole 12 Days of Christmas workout jam. This, by the way, is an incredibly easy concept that you can adjust, or even create your own version of. Just watch Heather’s video for ideas of some of the best fitness exercises to make into a 12 Days Before Christmas special, and you’ll be getting the Christmas sweats in no time.

Another one of my favourites is Tiff x Dan. When it comes to core and abs, Dan is literally the man. His workouts are easy to follow, and can be challenging for those looking for that extra edge indoors. He also has many workouts with weights if you have your own equipment. But if you don’t have weights, that’s okay. You can still find many videos suited to what you have, or even do one that incorporates weights…without the weights. Might seem radical, but really, stop making excuses for yourself and do the workout that you know you’re going to enjoy, even if you don’t have all the equipment. Pamela Reif is also super easy to follow along with, and her workouts are well suited to all abilities, whether you’re a beginner or someone who’s been working out for years. The magic of these YouTube workouts is that in the moment, you can also always adjust the challenge level. I sometimes skip exercises that I don’t find challenging enough, or that I know hurt my fragile little body. But instead of just fast forwarding, I instead throw myself into a different exercise that I know will get my heart pumping and feel good for me. You can easily do the same, which is a luxury you don’t necessarily have when going to the gym and working with a fitness instructor.

If you’re someone who gets bored working out at home or feels like it’s not challenging enough, first stop making excuses. Second, there are also plenty of videos out there that are what we call ‘no repeats’ – constantly keeping things interesting and doing a myriad of different exercises…not just intervals or sets of the same thing over and over again. These fitness gurus know this, and will often put that ‘no repeat’ signage in the title of their videos, guiding you on your way to exactly what you’re looking for. And if the trainers that I recommended here don’t give you what you’re looking for, don’t give up. Go to the search bar and type in exactly what you’re looking for (e.g. chest workout with no equipment). You will find someone who knows what they’re doing, who can easily give you the sweat sesh you’re looking for.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

If you’re on a time crunch to complete a workout before or after work, exercising at home might be your best bet in the winter season. But if you have a bit more time, consider going out with a friend and participating in a winter activity you’ll both enjoy. Outdoor skating rinks are everywhere in Canada, and many of them are free to use. You could also try more expensive activities like skiing, snowboarding or hockey and embrace the cold!

Swimming pools and indoor rinks often also have free to use services during the winter months, where you can enjoy a swim or skate with friends or alone. Indoor rinks are also great facilities to use during the winter given that they often have public access to indoor tracks, where you can either walk or run indoors without the cold getting in your way. But I strongly suggest you try out different activities and find ones that you find most enjoyable, and most rewarding for your physical health. If something’s not fun and rewarding, you’re not going to do it. Point blank. So explore the vast array of options out there, and discover what you like the best.

WHY STAY ACTIVE IN THE WINTER

Post-Christmas, it’s easy to slump into the winter blues, and fall into a state of depression. Staying fit and active during the winter, can help keep your mind and body happy, helping you avoid those dreaded winter blues. I didn’t fully realize just how much of a positive impact exercise had on my own mood until I started writing more about the positive effects of exercise on mood. Sometimes I wake up feeling guilty for something that happened, or I’ll feel stressed that life isn’t progressing the way I want it to. But after my brief stint of cry-baby-itis, I climb out of bed, run or cycle, and forget about the whole thing. Running is a great time for me to destress, reflect, and forget about the stressors of life. Cycling often gives me a chance to listen to a podcast or watch an episode of television, providing a useful and positive distraction for my brain before work, while simultaneously giving me that elevator lift. So not only am I giving myself self-reflection and self-care time, I’m also reaping the rewards of the heap of health benefits that come along with physical activity. Once you find activities that you enjoy, you’ll start to see these benefits come out too.

And don’t forget that exercise can be social too. It doesn’t have to be alone in your own home doing a HIIT. It can also be with friends going skating, skiing, swimming, whatever! That’s just one more way that exercise can benefit you during the winter months, enhancing your social life in ways you probably so desperately crave. Nobody wants to be alone in the winter, so make active steps to ensure you are being your most social, active, healthy, and best self.


So there it is! How to stay physically active in the winter months. Be sure to check out more of our Health & Fitness articles, and follow on social media via the links below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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How to make perfect whole wheat bread…

If you know me, chances are, you know I love food. But instead of going out to the grocery store or out to the restaurants all the time, I’m a big sucker for making food from scratch, using simple ingredients. Cooking is not only a great, healthy pastime for you to enjoy, but it’s an amazing gateway into social situations and dates, giving you a great excuse to have people over. After all, who doesn’t love food?

One of my favourite foods to make is whole wheat bread, due to the ease at which you can make it, and the variety of different ingredients you can add in to spice it up. It’s also something most people like to enjoy in some form, and always feels like a rewarding baking process. So today, I’m going to be sharing with you my perfect, zero sugar, whole wheat bread recipe, and teaching you simple ingredients to add in to turn your whole wheat bread into a party.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat bread flour

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pour all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Knead ingredients together using your hands until it forms into a nice ball. Add more flour 1 tbsp at a time if dough is too wet, or 1 tbsp of water at a time if dough feels too dry.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F and wrap bread in pre-wrap to let rise for 30 minutes. Carefully flour the outside of the pan.
  3. Using your hands, gently shape and stretch the dough into the shape of the bread pan or cooking appliance of choice. Lightly flour the outside of the dough again along any sections sticking to the pan. Cook for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees F. For a little crispiness on top, broil for 2-5 minutes at about 525 degrees F.
  4. Let cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Then use a spatula to get around the outside and release from the shackles of the pan. Put on a cutting board and carefully cut into slices. Enjoy while the bread is still warm!

SPECIAL TWISTS

One of the best things about making homeade bread is that it is incredibly easy to add additional ingredients into the mix, while keeping the base recipe above the same every single time. Here are some of my favourite special twists, to spice up your bread recipe.

1. HAZELNUT-RAISIN BREAD

Add 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts, 3/4 cup of raisins, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg.

2. SPINACH BREAD

Add in 1 cup of chopped spinach.

3. CHEESE, ONION & HERB

Add in 1 cup of cheese, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme, and 2 tbsp minced or green onion.

4. BRAN

Use only half whole-wheat flour, then half bran flour in the recipe.

5. BANANA

Start by mashing two-three ripe bananas, then add in the rest of the ingredients.


So there it is! My perfect whole-wheat bread recipe! Be sure to check out more from my Food & Nutrition section, on your quest to become the very best version of yourself. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

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How to embrace your masculinity, without being toxic

Aren’t men just the worst?

About once a week, I here my co-workers say something along the lines of “Men are the worst.” Feeling the awkwardness in the room as the only full-time male staff member, I tend to reply with a simple “I agree.” Now tell us how you really feel, Rhys…you might be saying. And well, it’s true. This is how I really feel. Most of the men in my life have massively let me down, and the majority of my scars in life come from the insufficient care of men with far more fragility than they’ve ever been willing to admit. The vast majority of opportunities I had to establish positive male role models in my life involved heavy handholding from my own father, who couldn’t allow me to participate in anything without being front and centre as a part of it himself. I love supposedly feminine things like fashion, cooking and dance, and I hate supposedly masculine things like fighting, violence, and the culture around sports like American football and hockey where “manliness” is projected by how hard you can hit or how long you can play through a concussion. I prefer to interact with and befriend females, out of the exact same reasons why I often hear the women in my life proclaim “men are the worst.” This is all to say that those bro-ey type of guys…the “Chads and Brads” as my co-workers would call them, just aren’t for me. And yet, I’m completely masculine.

THE MASCULINITY MISCONCEPTION

One of the greatest problems that I see with our current conceptions of masculinity, is that it excludes the vast majority of men, and focuses solely on a select few bad Adams apples who have given all men a bad reputation. And to be honest, that is totally fair. It’s difficult to argue with a “men are the worst” comment when throughout time, men have done some pretty horrible things. But there’s dialogue that exists in feminine circles and beyond where it seems as though all men have been lumped together as one big evil machine. This is contributing to a few problems for the shall we say “nice guys”, who are only becoming increasingly fearful to lead, dominate and initiate. As fear strikes the quivering boots of these nice guys, the actual idiots who desperately need changing, continue to live blissfully unaware that they are a problem.

Men don’t know where to start when it comes to getting in touch with their “masculine” side, because the misconceptions around masculinity have caused them to believe that being masculine doesn’t fit who they really are. Most men think they don’t fit the “masculine” mold, which suggests to me that we need to redefine what masculinity truly is, and help men understand how they can get in touch with their masculine side, without ever being afraid of stepping over a line and engaging in the toxic behaviours that they would already never engage in. So, after the longest introduction in the history of introductions, here is how to be a true masculine man, without being toxic.

LEADING AND INITIATING

When it comes to dating, social situations, work life, and really any context, you as a masculine man should be confident leading, initiating and dominating. This doesn’t mean that women can’t lead, initiate and dominate things like conversation and dates. Instead, it means that you as a man should be prepared to do these things too, and know when to step forward and when to step back.

Over the past few months, I’ve had conversations with several men about how they are fearful to lead, dominate and initiate…and not only in a dating context. I’ve had women tell me the exact same thing. Even just today, a friend told me a story about the time she travelled to Miami with her best friend, looking fly, looking good, expecting guys to approach, and not a single one did. She said to me that most men aren’t willing to lead and initiate, and that dating is becoming increasingly tougher because it’s rare to find someone who actually wants to take control of the situation. I’ve seen this first hand with male friends in my life. In fact…I was the exact same way.

When it comes to dating specifically, it’s biological and rooted in tradition of thousands of years for the man to lead the courtship dance…much to the chagrin of the man reading this right now. There are not only unfortunate gender roles but laws of attraction that we simply cannot escape from. We could escape from this and just sit back and wait for things to happen, but in doing so, we’d sacrifice our level of attractiveness and our ability to actually get anywhere in the world. So the first step to being a confident, leading man, is to first become confident and comfortable with yourself and your abilities. That’s easier said than done, but it’s a step that cannot be skipped. You can’t go from Wonder Women to Superman over night. That just wouldn’t make sense. But once you’ve gone from Wonder Woman to Superman over the span of several nights, go ahead and fly. Start leading and initiating in all aspects of your life, and you will become a man that others want to be around.

Another really important step when it comes to leading and initiating goes along with what many men are afraid of: offending others and saying something wrong. And while I don’t care if I’ve offended you in writing that, don’t get me wrong. Don’t be a prick. But remember who I’m speaking to here. You – the man who is so cautious and careful with your words that you are rarely ever going to actually offend someone or make a derogatory comment that would get you into trouble. So with that, don’t be afraid of confrontation. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and perspectives, don’t even be afraid to offend someone. Go about it in a way where you’re not being homophobic, racist, ageist, sexist, abusive, etc. That’s toxic, not masculine. But at the same time, you don’t have to shy away from making your voice heard. Establish yourself in any context by being a leader, being a vocal presence and by trying to make an impact on the environment around you.

Then when you realize how awesome you are, Superman, and start to positively impact the lives of others through your positive persona and intentionality in your conversations, don’t go flaunting it about. Don’t brag about your exploits or seek the validation from others to tell you that you’re awesome. Awesome people don’t need to prove to anyone else that they are awesome. They just naturally are awesome. And those are the men that are often most in touch with their masculinity…because they know how to exude their confidence, without overdoing it.

LISTENING & HEARING OTHER PERSPECTIVES

In addition to leading and initiating, masculine men need to understand when to take a step back, and hear out other peoples’ perspectives. Men tend to be very action and goal-focused, and are often wrapped up in what they’re going to say next, neglecting the actual words being said. LIKE YOU RIGHT NOW, probably thinking about something else, as you’re reading my words. Stop thinking, and start listening. Take a step back and actually listen to what is being said, how it’s being said, and what the deeper, underlining meanings behind what is being said represent.

When having conversations with people, make eye contact, nod your head and show that you are listening through your body language (i.e. leaning forward, shoulder relaxed, hands calm). Don’t interject, don’t think about yourself or what you’re having for dinner…listen. Listen to what is being communicated, and the message that the other person is trying to convey. And if you can’t comprehend that from the conversation itself, ask questions, or even paraphrase what’s been said to you in a new way. Paraphrasing for clarification will allow the person talking to you to tell you even more details about the topic, without you needing a hot and ready question to keep the conversation going.

To establish an even greater connection, you can mirror the body language and tonality of the person talking to you. So if they’re sounding really excited talking to you, it’s best if you use the same enthusiastic tonality…even if this sounds feminine to you. If someone is excited to talk to you, you should already be naturally excited anyway, so really, you’re just being authentic.

Then when it comes to being a masculine, master listening and empathy skills, and hear out other people’s perspectives without constantly feeling like you need to interject your own. It’s fine to disagree and stand up for yourself (see the first section), but you shouldn’t be going about it in a way that puts other people down and makes them feel of lower value to you. A real man pumps others up, not bring them down. In order to pump other people up, you need to listen to them, and understand what makes them tick.

If you’re really willing to take your masculinity to the next level, start by listening to your friends, peers, co-workers and family members after asking them one simple question – “Do I engage in any behaviours that could be considered toxic?”

GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR FEMININE SIDE

This may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the most common characteristics of masculine, manly men, is that they are all in touch with their feminine side. Let’s quickly start off with a brief discussion about fashion and grooming.

When it comes to fashion and grooming, some men think of it as being “girly” or “feminine” to look good and dress well. This is not the case. Being sloppy in your appearance says to the world that you are willing to be sloppy in other areas of your life. It’s just not a good look…literally and figuratively. Ask anyone with any degree of femininity who they find masculine and attractive, and they will probably give you some myriad of men who dress well, are well groomed and who look after their bodies. This doesn’t mean that you need a beard to be masculine (or that you have to be 6’4 with muscles). But there’s nothing particularly masculine (or attractive) about someone who doesn’t maintain their physical appearance. So as a masculine man, you need to start prioritizing your physical appearance and make an effort with clothing, skin care, facial hair, and hairstyle. Don’t get lazy in thinking that being good in one area means you don’t need to try in other areas. I thought I was a good dresser in high school, but a lot of the time I didn’t even wear belts. I also wore socks that had holes in them. My complacency in thinking I was a good dresser caused me to overlook some of the most important parts toward actually being a good dresser. Silly high school me.

In your path to be the most masculine, confident version of yourself, check out more of my fashion and grooming tips, and then get out there and explore what looks good on you.

So, we now know that masculine men understand how to dress and groom themselves well (which shouldn’t be typed as feminine but here we are); but what else? Well, a lot else. Masculine men…

  • Know how to be friends with women without seeing them as sexual objects or mountains that need to be climbed.
  • Know how to communicate in a way that is inviting and inclusive to all, without saying things like “no homo”, “that’s so gay” or any other derogatory remarks.
  • Don’t blame their faults or shortcomings on “being a guy”. But actually take ownership in their failures, and actively make efforts to work through them.
  • Don’t play into strereotypes of what a man should be, and aren’t afraid to engage in stereotypically “girly” activities.
  • Are emotionally available, and intentional in sharing their thoughts, emotions and vulnerabilities to the world.

Out of all of these, I have to unpack the last one on the list in particular. Suppressing how you’re feeling will only lead to more trouble, more pain, and continuous cycles of problematic patterns. Getting help when needed is far more beneficial than you suffering on your own. So recognize trauma from your childhood that could be causing you to have emotional or behavioural concerns into adulthood, and work with a therapist, psychologist or life coach to address those concerns. One of the greatest signs of a tough man, is someone who knows when to seek help, versus when to truly tough something out and do it on their own when the circumstances are right. How do you know when the circumstances are right? Well, usually at that point you’ve been given guidance and help from knowledgeable others. Seeking is help is not a sign of weakness, but strength. The same goes for vulnerability. Not only is vulnerability actually more attractive than you realize, it establishes a greater connection with others, and allows you to showcase a true, authentic version of yourself. So as a masculine man, don’t be afraid to get in touch with your emotions in a totally “feminine” way. Embrace both the feminine and masculine in you, and you’ll easily be able to jump from Wonder Woman to Superman in no time.

CONCLUSION

Being a masculine man is all about being confident in your masculinity, without being overbearing or unwilling to get in touch with your “feminine” side. It’s about knowing when to lead and initiate versus when to take a step back and listen. Perhaps most importantly of all, it’s about working hard to go about things in the right way through being intentional with your words, messages and actions. Masculine men don’t need to be strong, 6’4 alphas with beards, but they need to self reflect everyday as to how their behaviours could be problematic and how they can do better to be the best version of themselves.


So there it is! How to actually be masculine, without being toxic. Be sure to check out more articles on your quest to become the very best version of yourself, and follow on social media via the links below! Thanks for reading and see you soon.

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Becoming the best you (Part 3 – Improving your work life)

“Work, work, work, work, work” – Rihanna.

Rihanna might be different from you and I. She is after all, a multimillionaire celebrity. But Rihanna, just like you and I, knows that hard work pays the bills (that’s what that song is about, right?). If you aren’t willing to work hard, you’ll never get anywhere in life. But at the same time, you cannot work yourself sick. Everything needs to achieve equilibrium, and be able to balance on one leg with your eyes closed in tree pose. So with that, this is Part 3 to our Becoming the Best You Series, in which I give you all the tips and tricks you need to become the very best version of yourself. Today, is all about work.

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT

When it comes to a balanced, happy work life, finding the right fit is absolutely essential. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you are not a one-trick pony, and that you likely have many different options for career paths and jobs that could hypothetically be a good fit for you. So why not get out there and explore what could be the best fit for you? You never want to settle for anything less than the best in life, whenever possible. You wouldn’t want your kids or your parents to have anything less than the best, would you? So why settle for anything less yourself?

If you are stuck in a rut…if you hate the thought of going to work…if you feel like it’s not personally meaningful or challenging or setting you on the path that you want to be…what are you doing? Taking a leap and changing paths can be a scary thought. But life is inherently scary. If you think there’s nothing better out there for yourself, you’re wrong. If you think your abilities are holding you back from having your dream job, you’re doubly wrong. In fact, it’s your mindset holding you back. Not your KSA’s.

When I worked full-time in the soccer world, I was making about five dollars per hour. I was taken advantage of. I was told I wasn’t good enough. I was devalued. I was verbally and physically abused. Yet, I had all of these positive things going for me. Kids loved working with me. I kept them in the sport year after year, wanting to return, wanting to play soccer, wanting to sleep next to a soccer ball because they were so excited to play. I LOVED being a major part of the development of athletes not just in a soccer sense, but in helping them become the individuals that they are, and will one day be. I had constant internal validation of why I was doing a good job from the cards players would make, the pictures they would draw, the kind words of parents, the gifts…the smiling faces! I also had external validation from the types of roles I was able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I was the youngest ever person to be on the board of the district league in town. I was the youngest ever person to be in a Technical Leadership role at my club, if not all clubs in the region…ever. I also loved the more hardcore side of the sport – the pressure, the competition, the way the success of your group of players can be directly related to how well you do as a coach. It fueled me. It felt personally meaningful. And even more – I was entrenched in it – to the point that I still have ties to many of the people and things I thought I made the decision to leave behind already. To the point where my garage resembled a lonely run-down soccer store. It was my life. So I suppressed the fact that I wasn’t happy and that I was heading down a path that could lead me toward serious nothingness in my life.

I thought ‘If I just go to this other club or do this other role, things will be different.’ But it was the same everywhere I went – especially the financial side of it. Even a professional organization couldn’t pay me minimum wage for the amount of work I was doing. I wasn’t able to afford the cost of living, and I was told by one guy, who saw me coach one time over a video, that I wasn’t ready to achieve a license that would allow me to start the process of making more money in the sport. So I left. I left what I had built for eight years. And I have never been happier. Why? Because I’m now in a situation that is a better fit for me…in fact…the best possible fit for my current life right now.

Within minutes of starting my new job, I felt valued and respected. I immediately hit it off with my co-workers. I immediately bonded with the participants. I was challenged. I was asked to do tasks completely out of my normal realm of comfortability, and I loved every minute of it. I still love every minute of it. And if I hadn’t dated a girl from a city nearby for a month, I might never even have thought to apply for this job. It’s funny how life can work life that. But the point is – don’t settle for something that isn’t bringing the upmost value to your life – whether that be financial reasons, personal reasons, or a mix of American Horror Stories. Take my Canadian Horror Story turned Heroes’ Journey as an example of what could be possible, and never think that you don’t deserve something more, or that you can’t accomplish something more. It all comes down to mindset, and your willingness to make change happen in your life for the better.

Finding the perfect fit also isn’t just about the job itself. It’s about the people, the culture, the energy, the vibe. It’s about the organization – what they stand for, who they serve, how that contributes to the world in a way that’s meaningful to you. It’s about your happiness, your financial security, your competence and confidence in your role. It’s about so many things. So this is not an easy task. But going on this journey could be the most rewarding thing you ever do, if you do in fact find that perfect fit.

So now let’s talk about how to actually find the best fit for you. The first thing I want you to do is to write down the five things that you enjoy most in life. Seriously. Stop reading, grab a pen and write.

If you can’t think of five things that you enjoy, you need to add self-reflection into your daily routine. If you’re having trouble narrowing it down to just five, that’s a good thing. It likely means you’re versatile and capable of working in many different places and spaces. For now, you can exclude things that you don’t think you’d want to build a career out of. In other words, just because chocolate cake is one of your five favourite things in life, it doesn’t mean you need a burning cake desire to open up your own bakery or to work in the dessert section of a grocery store. Beyond that, if you’re STILL struggling to narrow it down (like I would be), ask yourself this impossibly difficult question – “If I could never have _ or _ in my life again, which one would I choose?”

Once you’ve done that, think about where in the world you want to live and where you want to work. If you’re open to anything, that’s amazing. But if you want to stay in your current city and keep your life relatively the same beyond this change of career, that’s also amazing. You just need to know that before you start looking, and before you start thinking about what jobs fit the billing for your five things. Once you’ve established that, literally go to organizational websites, go to Indeed, go to LinkedIn, and search for these things in not only job descriptions, but the search bars themselves. Let’s take my recent career change as an example…

For my personal path, those five things would be some version of helping people, personal development, writing, being physically active, and coaching/educating. I’m also open to working anywhere in Ontario…maybe even in Canada…so my job scope is not limited by location. So knowing that, you might instantly say that being a phys. ed teacher would be a great fit for my desires. You’re probably right. But I know that I want more than that in life. Nothing against teaching, but I want to change lives of not just individuals, but communities, groups…the world…(is that too ambitious?). Right now, I’m working at a community centre in a low-income neighbourhood, leading youth recreation programs, and trying to help inspire kids in this neighbourhood to live a better life. It’s amazing. I know that this isn’t the be all end all forever, and there will come a time where I look to progress forward in my career path and be in even more of a leadership role (leading is definitely my #6, just ahead of soccer). But I genuinely feel right now that it’s the perfect fit for me. It relates to aspects of coaching/educating, to helping people and to recreation – combining three of my five favourite things in life.

So beyond dating the girl from the city nearby, let’s talk about how I found the perfect fit for me and how I came to be in my current role. First, I searched for keywords and phrases that would directly apply to my interests. As cool as it would be if the words “helping people” turned up 50,000 job results nearby, there are better terms to use that will yield better results. When I was searching for my perfect fit, I scoured the internet for jobs relating to ‘Recreation’, ‘Sports’, ‘Community’, ‘Leadership’ and even ‘Writing’ – keeping my options open to all of my interests. I even created job alerts for these terms, set to be sent directly to my inbox on a weekly to biweekly basis. During this time, I also identified my ideal city to be in the middle ground of my old city – London, and the place to be in Ontario – Toronto. So I searched specifically in about five cities within that scope, upped my resume and cover letter game, and eventually, after over a hundred job applications, found the perfect fit for me. You might be saying to me right now – “Rhys. That’s a lot of freaking work.” Well, your happiness is worth any amount of work…freaking work even. So go through the steps of identifying what it is that you want, putting yourself out there, and then taking the leap.

You need to understand that when applying for jobs, the market is crazy. You need to put your best foot forward with anything you can use as leverage. I’m talking your cover letter, your resume, your physical appearance, your hygiene, your networking, your everything. Reach out to knowledgeable others already in the industry. Ask them what it takes to land that dream job. Maybe you’ll even gain a crucial connection or a job offer along the way. Little things like this can matter a lot in today’s market. Give yourself that leverage and expand your horizons by applying for as many jobs as possible. Go through the experience of applying, writing cover letters, and interviewing. Gain as much experience and exposure to it as you can. You’ll start to develop a rhythm for how to answer questions, for what stories you want to tell, for how to sell yourself, and even for how to reframe yourself as the prize. You likely won’t even hear back from 50% of the places you apply for. Don’t let that discourage you. It’s always worth applying for that small chance that you do hear back, that your interview goes great, and that you land your dream job. Shoot for the freaking stars and you might shine brighter than all of them.

Then when you conduct interviews with organizations, actively scope out whether or not they are a good fit for you. Don’t just sit there thinking “Am I a good fit for them? Am I saying the right things?” No. You are the prize. You are the one in control. You need to figure out whether or not they are a good fit for you. And don’t get me wrong – whether or not they like you will be a big part of your happiness at work. So you still want to ensure the feelings are mutual. But this is ultimately about you finding the best fit for you. So you don’t have to take the first job offer that comes your way. Even after taking a job, you don’t have to stay if you realize it was a mistake. So long as your chasing your calling, and being true to who you are, you’re going to be on the right path toward finding the perfect fit for you, and making the most out of your work life…for life.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Now that my novella is over, let’s talk about work-life balance. If you’ve even read this far in the article, chances are, you’re a workhorse. You are likely someone who works tirelessly, and always puts your best foot forward, probably even with a bit of a ‘work-first, my life-second’ kind of mentality. Squash that right now like it’s a butternut. Even if you’ve found your perfect fit, you need to have a positive work-leisure/work-life balance in order to achieve true happiness at work.

So let’s talk about how to accomplish a favourable work to life balance. As much as you might want to make your entire world revolve around work, you need to have other things going for you, and other things that make you unique beyond work. You need to take time for yourself and practice self-care. Whether that be in the morning before work, in the evening after work, or both, you need to find the time for you. You need to do things that you enjoy, that feel personally meaningful to you. This can be difficult to accomplish. Even if you make plans to see people after work, by the time work finishes you might not feel up to going out again. You may even already have other responsibilities, like being the personal taxi driver for your kids. But no matter what, try and set aside some time, by getting into a routine and setting boundaries for yourself.

One key way to carve out the time, is to know your work schedule and stick to it like glue. If you’re working for an organization, this should be relatively easy for you to achieve. If you’re the boss of your own work life, make sure you set yourself a specific work schedule that you stick to. Once you get into the routine of knowing what you have to accomplish each week at work, you’ll begin to have more time for the balance outside of that. If you work from home, you should also have separate spaces for where you work and where you live your ordinary lounging life – ensuring they stay separate. Further, when you’re not working, stop thinking about work! Stop answering work emails. Stop reflecting on all that needs to be done tomorrow. You’re just going to burn yourself out.

Finally, if you work with other people, make time at work to be social, and connect with your co-workers. For example, rather than eating at your desk, eat lunch with your co-workers. This could release the burden to be social when you finish work, whilst fulfilling that social need in your life. If you’re still struggling to achieve a work-life balance after putting all of these steps into motion, consider coaching to help get you out of your rut and achieve a greater equilibrium.

PERSONAL PROJECTS

In the quest to make time for you outside of work, consider following your passions all the more. Ponder those five things I had you write down earlier, and think about if any are currently missing from your work life. If something’s missing, I urge you to think about how you could incorporate that into your life, in a way that makes you money. Developing a side hustle based around one of your greatest passions will allow you to have something to look forward to when you finish work. It might even help you financially, and allow you to literally make money in your sleep. This will naturally enhance the value that you bring to the world, and the level of meaning you assign to your life. I always have three to four personal projects that I’m working on at any time outside of work. It keeps me busy, but that’s the way I like to live my life. And it doesn’t have to be starting a business or making a website. It can be taking a course and learning something new. It can be training for a sports event/competition. It can even be reading articles like this and going through the steps of becoming the very best you. So if you can manage the time, why not chase your wildest dreams? That’s where I’ll leave you for today.

CONCLUSION

When considering how best to go about establishing a positive work life, it’s all about finding the perfect fit for you, achieving a work-life balance, and making time to focus on your personal projects and passions beyond work. Even regardless of the other core principles to becoming the best you, if you can focus on your work life in all of these different areas, you will be on a stellar path toward feeling your most confident self, and living your best life. If you have any questions or want to learn more about becoming the best you, feel free to contact rhys@themastermindsite.com.


So there it is! Improving your work life on the path to becoming the best you. Be sure to check out more in this series, and follow on social media via the links below. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…

  1. Part 1 – Improving your social life
  2. Part 2 – Improving your health
  3. Part 3 – Improving your work life
  4. Improving your KSA’s (becoming the best you)

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Developing a growth mindset…

Over the past eight years of working with kids, one of the biggest things that I’ve noticed is that they are often hyper-aware of their own abilities and inabilities, particularly what they seemingly cannot accomplish. Whether it be through not wanting to try something new because they think they won’t like it, being afraid of new challenges out of fear or anxiety of it not going well, or even criticizing themselves for their perceived lack of skill, kids often overestimate how much they can grow with a little bit of time and effort. But what I’ve also noticed over the past eight years, is that kids are not alone in this. This is a massive mindset problem for adults too, in fact – people of all ages. We often view the world with a fixed mindset.

I know I’m terrible at art, so in the movie of my life, I always portray myself as some hopeless art loser the moment I thrust myself into an art project. The reality of the situation is that I’m actually totally fine at drawing, painting…even dare I say…colouring…especially when given the right tools or the right level of instruction. In fact, if I had ever stepped out of my hopeless art loser shell and took say…a painting class, I likely would have developed useful knowledge, skills and maybe even new attitudes, that could have transformed my entire art mindset for life. Our abilities are not fixed in time, and can change with practice and help. So it’s important to approach any challenges or perceived inabilities with a growth mindset, and positive self-talk. That’s why in this article I’m going to be giving you some tips and tricks to establishing a growth mindset. And cut the scene.

CHALLENGE IMPERFECTIONS

As the critical beings that we tend to be, we’re often hyper-aware of our imperfections and faults, to a fault. It’s all well and good to acknowledge all that needs to improve, but problems arise when we embrace our faults as part of our identity, without making any active strides to change. Instead of just accepting that we’re good at some things and bad at other things, we need to be willing to challenge our imperfections and work to improve all areas of our lives. We need to learn how to ask knowledgeable others for help when necessary, or even take the risk in attempting a difficult task all on our own. And if we receive feedback or even criticism, we need to challenge that feedback head-on, and use it as an opportunity to improve. There is always a point in trying to accomplish something that you perceive as being difficult, even if you fail. Think of how much better it will feel when you actually accomplish that thing, rather than your art loser life of not even bothering to try. Challenging our imperfections is about winning the battle before it even begins.

Besides, your inability to perform a task is far more mental than it is reality. If you focus on developing a positive attitude and mindset toward any task you strive to accomplish, you will likely perform far better. Instead of saying “I’m an awful swimmer”, challenge yourself and boisterously proclaim “I haven’t learned how to swim well, yet. But I want to learn.” Now that’s a growth mindset.

WORK TO IMPROVE

One of the best ways to actually inspire growth in your life is to actively work on the areas in which you need improvement. This is obvious to say, and chances are, you probably already do this with many areas of your life. But, let’s face it, you’ve likely written yourself off in so many other areas of your life, by telling yourself you can’t…or even worse…that you suck. How dare you. For instance, take my art example. I’ve always told myself that I’m bad at art. But have I made strides to improve? No. Instead, with every picture I’ve drawn over the past twenty-four years, I’ve told myself that I suck at art, as I’m drawing. What a healthy mindset.

So with my sarcasm in mind, part of “growing” is about actually “doing”. If you want to improve at something, like for example, all areas of your life, you need to not just read my articles on how to be a better person, but actually get out there and practice what that looks like.

That mean seem daunting to you. But you need to stop caring about what other people think of you. If anyone wants to judge you, they’ve instantly made themselves a worse person in that moment. And that’s their loss. Not yours. So believe in your abilities, and take the risk of accepting a challenge head-on, even when you know that you have no faith in your ability to accomplish a task. I’ve had this running joke for a while where I tell people that I’m “bad with hand stuff”, which is super true…to an extent. But I always give those type of handyman activities a go, even if the outcome ends up being embarrassing. Why? Because I don’t need the approval of others to make me feel good. If I do a good job on the task, I can be proud of my efforts. If I do a bad job on the task, it’s a valuable learning opportunity for next time. Having a growth mindset is all about getting to a place where you are completely okay with failure. It’s about getting to a place where you don’t see negative outcomes as embarrassing, but worthwhile experiences.

I may take hours more to set up a barbecue than the average guy. I may even break a few glow sticks along the way (don’t ask)…but chances are from doing those simple activities I’ll have learned valuable skills, gained knowledge on barbecues and glow sticks, and be able to perform those tasks to a greater ability next time. People may laugh and ridicule me for how many glow-sticks I break (I swear it was only a third), but I don’t care, because I now know how to only break a sixth of them next time. Now that’s a growth mindset.

SET GOALS

In helping you put this all into action, consider setting yourself some goals. One thing that I like to do is to set myself a task to accomplish over the course of each week, centered around anything I know that I’m desperately terrible at….or that I haven’t learned how to do better yet ;). This keeps me accountable toward actual improvement. If I fail at my task, I don’t allow myself to move to a different goal until it’s been completed. This may be small like flossing every day of the week, or bigger, like going an entire week without spending a dime. One week I made an active effort to remember to say “how about you?” whenever I was asked a personal question. Another week I told myself I had to tell the truth one hundred percent of the time, focusing on complete transparency and honesty in all aspects of my life. Regardless of what you improve, it’s important to remember it as something that can be improved with effort and time. Stop telling yourself “I’m terrible at __.”, and start telling yourself “I haven’t made an active effort to improve at __, and this week I’m going to prioritize my improvement.” Then set yourself a goal related to that quest, and get it done.


So there it is! How to develop a growth mindset! Be sure to check out more on this subject, such as Focusing on the positive…, and A word on taking chances…. Thanks for reading and see you soon!

You might also enjoy…

Three tips for boosting confidence…

When it comes to confidence, I am of the belief that we are are all on a much truer level playing field than we realize. While some may appear more confident than others, I really believe we are all kind of just going through the motions and “faking it until we make it.” After all, those who come across as over-confident and cocky, probably aren’t that confident at all. Confident people don’t have to pump themselves up and tell themselves why they’re awesome all the time, they just naturally are and showcase that through their actions.

The stigma of healthy eating…

essential part of performance. As a result, healthy eating often becomes a major component of an athlete’s entire identity. For some, it becomes an obsession. For others it just becomes a cautious realization of what foods will help fuel performance, and what foods can and will destroy it over time. Beyond just athletes, nutrition is an essential part of anyone’s life, and should realistically be something we all pay attention to. So it’s all the more confusing why a stigma exists around healthy eating.

A word on taking chances…

A year ago this month, I took a chance on fourteen 12-year-old soccer players, creating a brand new competitive team from scratch. Many of the players were in our recreational programs at NorWest, but I saw the potential they had to take their game to the next level. Now, after just one year of training together as a competitive team, the girls are unbeaten this summer, winning three and drawing the other in their first four matches. Tomorrow night we play what is likely our biggest game of the season to this point. But after the start to the season we’ve had, the girls enter the match full of confidence, and uber aware of how to grind out a result when things get tough.

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Getting over a breakup…

And for now, you can hate me. One day, you’ll maybe turn a little soft. Think back and remember us as a big win, a little loss.”Barcelona by Winnetka Bowling League & Sasha Sloan.

Breaking up hurts. BUT, bouncing back from a breakup presents a chance for you to go through the greatest transformation you could ever imagine for you and your life. When you are rejected by someone, it’s time to forget about them, focus on you, and become the very best version of yourself. If you’ve found this article on this very website, a website focusing on self improvement and personal development, you’re in the right place toward taking that leap. So let’s jump right into this article all about how to heal post-break-up, and go through the biggest WIN you’ll ever have, even if right now everything in your world feels like a massive loss.

FOCUS ON YOU

The first step to getting over someone and healing post-breakup is to focus on you. You can reflect on what you could have done differently and how you might do better next time, but chances are you will only drive yourself crazy dwelling on the situation if you take that approach. Use the negatives as positives to fuel you and your transformation, in changing those negative habits or behaviours that may or may not have caused your relationship’s demise. During my last break-up, for months I was saying to myself “I wish I made that mistake with someone else, so that I knew better and didn’t make it with ___.” This is not a healthy mindset. Mistakes are learning experiences, regardless of when they occur. The biggest wins in life often come after our greatest failures. Even if it might not seem that way for you right now. So stop focusing on the negatives, stop punishing yourself for your mistakes, stop putting that person on a pedestal, and start focusing on you and all that makes you YOU. Start building yourself back up, and becoming the best version of yourself in all of the four major areas in which you need to go through to accomplish life-changing transformations.

Following my most recent break-up, I only started to think of the breakup as a win, when I stopped putting the other person on a pedestal, and I started focusing on clear actions that could take my life to the next level. It turns out, a lot of things needed fixing. But once I started to focus on building myself back up, my confidence hit the roof, and I accomplished wonders in completely forgetting about that person romantically. I started to treat myself like the prize, rather than pining over my ex. And that’s when a funny thing happened. I realized I was no longer even attracted to that person romantically. Because when the break-up hit, I was made to feel like a loser. I was made to feel worthless. But over time, I realized I was actually the one with value. I wasn’t a loser. I was the winner in the situation. My mindset completely shifted, and I realized, the other person was the loser for ending it with me, and for making me feel the way I did. And as a person of value, I wanted to surround myself with other people of value. This mindset change completely transformed my outlook on the break-up and allowed me to easily get over the biggest hurdle (more on that to come).

Another important step to focusing on YOU after a breakup is to be patient when it comes to jumping back into dating. I guarantee you that you are not ready to jump back into any kind of a relationship, casual or serious, in the weeks or even months after a break-up. No matter how right your new relationship might feel. Chances are, you’re only going to be hurting someone else. Chances are, you’re only going to make things worse, and continue to put your heartbreaker on a pedestal. We often compare present relationships to past relationships. Even if we don’t want those thoughts to enter our minds, they are always readily available. So jumping back into another relationship only makes you think about your ex more, while simultaneously limiting your ability to focus on building yourself back up. Beyond that, your heart is still emotionally attached to your ex, and seeing someone new will only cause more stress and heart-ache to your painful situation. So stay off the dating apps, don’t jump into something new, and focus on all that you can do to make yourself a better person instead.

CREATE POSITIVE DISTRACTIONS

Going hand and hand with the last section, you need to focus on creating positive distractions for yourself following a break-up. If you’re a human reading this rather than a cyborg, chances are, everything reminds you of your ex right now. This is the biggest hurdle you need to get over when suffering from a break-up. In fact, it’s the main reason why people often jump straight back into relationships and start dating other people. Those people are trying to replace something that’s gone. Whether it be their best friend that they’ve lost, the supposed love of their life, or even just someone they envisioned a longer future with. But what those people (and you) need to realize after a break-up, is that even if there’s a chance of you getting back together, the relationship that you had as you knew it, is dead. It will never be the same. Even if it can be repaired, you will need to treat everything almost as though it’s your first time meeting that person again, if it’s actually going to work. So what you need to do right now is realize that it’s over, and squash any thoughts of fixing the past or changing the future of that relationship. Stop listening to heartbreak music, stop googling ‘how to get your ex back’, and start creating meaningful and positive distractions for yourself that don’t remind you of your ex.

Focus on building back relationships you’ve neglected since you got together with your ex, and focus on developing a social circle full of new friends. If you’re seeking the kind of affection and affirmation you craved from your ex – the person that likely refused to give you those exact two things – use your support systems in place to get out of that mindset. When you spend time with friends, don’t spend all your time talking about your ex. Talk about other exciting things going on in your life, the transformations you’re undergoing to become the best version of yourself, and the new possibilities available at your fingertips. Remember that as much as close others might want to help you post-break-up, you are ultimately the only person that is going to get you to feel better about things. This is why it’s so key to start developing a new social circle, to go along with this new (or more or less improved) you. Your new friends will only know THIS you, and not what you were like in that past relationship. Once that happens, you’ll embody this “new” you, and forget about the “old” you. Focusing on friendship, particularly new friends, is a great place start.

Even more – focus on things that you used to do for fun, that you neglected during your relationship. When we’re in deep with someone, we tend to focus a lot of energy on making them happy. We forget about some of the things that we enjoy, and push them aside. Get back into those activities and get your life back! If you were already good at balancing your independence within your relationships, consider taking up new hobbies or interests, and start to live a more interesting, exciting life. One way in which you can do that is by travelling to a new place you’ve never been to before once a week. This is one of the number one things that cleansed me of all negativity post-break-up and allowed for my transformation. Why? It provided a meaningful and positive distraction, where I began to think about myself and my new beginnings.

If travelling isn’t your thing, consider getting out and exploring your own town. Visit restaurants, coffee shops or even tourist attractions in your own environment that you’ve never been to before, at least once a week. Set yourself a goal of something you want to achieve, and then go out there and do exactly that. As an example, one of my goals post-breakup was to cook or bake at least one new thing every week, that I had never tried making before. Not only was this a great way to spice up my diet and add some variety, it was a useful distraction and something to look forward to every week. Adventures and avenues like this created some of my most positive experiences post-break-up, beyond just creating the best distractions. Another great thing about trying your hand at new beginnings and exploring new places is the people you can meet along the way. Maybe one of these people, when you’re ready, will even turn out to be your next long-term relationship. So with that…let’s talk about deciding when you’re ready to get back out there.

DECIDING WHEN YOU’RE READY

After a break-up, you will crave the affection and affirmation of close others in helping replace what’s been lost. It’s crucial to get that from friends, rather than from any new romantic relationships, and to take your time in getting back out there. Again, you’re simply not ready…even if you think you are.

But you might be wondering – how do you know when you actually are ready to get back out there. There’s a great How I Met Your Mother episode about this, where Future Ted talks about how everyone has a different metric for how much time it takes before you are truly over someone and ready to get back out there. For some it may be half the time of the relationship; for others it may be when you can think about dating someone new without the thought of your ex entering your mind. For me, I believe you know that you’re ready to get back out there when you’ve accomplished three things. You need to no longer find your ex attractive and suitable for you romantically, you need to fully believe in your break-up as a win rather than a loss, and you need to become you 2.0, which will only help you achieve the other two mindsets. So let’s break this down in further detail.

First, the best thing that you can do following a break-up is focus on becoming you 2.0. So when you feel like you’re on a good path toward getting there, and that you’ve started to figure out the four core principles and get your life in order, you’re usually very close to being ready. But there will always be set-backs. For any relationship that you were highly invested in (usually one that lasts longer than two months), a minimum of thirty days is an absolute must. There’s a lot of research out there that suggests the twenty-nine to thirty-one day mark of a break-up is the second toughest span of time after the initial few days, and the time in which you will miss your former partner the most. It’s why ‘get your ex back’ supposed “experts” talk about a thirty-day no contact period between you and your ex following a break-up, if you want any chance of ‘getting them back’. The theory behind this is that you’re going to be hitting them with a message at the point in which they miss you most and have (somehow) forgotten about all the negatives of the relationship. I won’t bother to link these “experts”, as you’re better off focusing on you, rather than how to get someone else to like you. You will naturally attract the people you desire once you become the best version of yourself. Besides, most of these “experts” will actually legitimately tell you exactly this anyway. They’ll tell you that if you want your ex back, you need to focus on yourself, and not your ex. But my reasoning for this long-winded tangent is to tell you that there are legitimate, scientifically studied highs and lows of a break-up that have been studied for years. Even if you feel like a brand new person one day, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from hitting that twenty-nine day mark and missing your ex uncontrollably. And this is why the “thirty day no-contacting your ex” period of time is legitimately stupid. The entire time, you’re thinking about your ex and what you’ll say when that period is over, rather than focusing on you and all that you can do to forget about them. No contact works in not making things worse for yourself if you really want this person back in your life, but beyond that, it’s useless to put a definitive time period on it. My best friend has a quite harsh, but completely understandable perspective on this. He says that once it’s over, you should never contact that person ever again. This, of course, is unrealistic and practically impossible. But it’s also completely valid and often the best approach. But a funny thing happens when you eventually do reach out to your ex after a while, and this is why I think contact at some point is absolutely essential.

Once you actually reach out and contact your ex, chances are, they will respond in a negative way. You may be fearful of that, but that’s actually one of the BEST things that can happen. You’ll quickly realize that they are not someone you really want to be around, and that their behaviour is not all that attractive to you. When you’re no longer attracted to your ex, and you don’t think only love goggle thoughts when you think of them, you are more or less ready.

In other words, knowing when you’re ready is about going through a span of time in which you have no bad days. No set-backs. No tears. No “I miss you” thoughts. It’s about going through a span of time in which you actually forget they were ever even in your life. Right now, that may seem difficult. But it’s super possible once you start focusing on yourself and all that you can do to become the best you. Throughout that process, it’s important to remember that there is no linear process to getting over a breakup. The length of the relationship, your attachment to that person, and the various things you shared (from small things like intimate moments to big things like kids and a house), can all play into how long it takes to healing your wounds and putting yourself out there again. But regardless of these factors, it will take time. As cliché and annoying as that is, you need time to heal. It’s just about what you do in that time, and hopefully all of these tips can help you spend that time wisely and get to a place where you no longer think of your break-up as a loss, but instead, a big win, that set you on the path toward your biggest life transformation yet.

RECAP

When it comes to healing after a break-up, there is no linear process. It’s important to focus on building yourself back up through intentionally focusing on all that you can control and all that you can do to be the best you, rather than focusing on anything to do with your ex. If that’s troubling for you and you can’t even look at water without thinking of your ex, work to create positive and meaningful distractions – like travelling, hanging out with friends, or setting yourself new goals. Once you start on a path toward self-development, you’ll start to gain confidence in a host of areas, and your mindset about the situation will inevitably change. When you can get to the point where you start to treat your break-up as a win, rather than a loss, and you no longer find that person attractive, that’s when you know you’re ready to get back out there. In the end, remember that you are a prize and that your ex was wrong for treating you how they did. Thanks for reading and see you soon.


So there it is! My best tips, tricks, and mindset shifts to getting over a break-up and becoming the best version of yourself. Be sure to check out more from our Dating & Relationships section, and continue to become the best you by checking out more of our Personal Development articles. If you enjoy this kind of content, be sure to give a follow on social media using the links below. Thanks again, and see you on the other side.

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