’Tis the season to make resolutions. And if you’re like most of the population, getting in shape is near the top of your list. Again.
Many of us tend to make this same promise to ourselves year after year, but continuously fall off the wagon because let’s be real, if it were easy to add working out to our day, we’d all look like the Incredible Hulk minus the green skin and anger management issues.
I, too, have spent many a year-end trying to psych myself up for January 1st, but it can be pretty hard to get motivated — particularly if your mind is focused on a career goal. Over this past year, I launched a new business, which obviously comes with a rollercoaster of ups and downs, and through all of it I learned something very telling about myself: I am moody as hell.
Depending on what’s going on with my business that day, I can be reflective, inspired, nervous, determined, or downright delirious. Each of these moods could feasibly be used as an excuse not to exercise on any given day. Like this:
I’m mentally exhausted from working out these finances. I’m just gonna let that count as my exercise today.
I’m so excited about the new client I signed — I’m gonna skip the gym and start working on them right now!
I got 99 problems to work out in my head and working out ain’t one of them!
When you have a business or a career you love, it’s hard to tear yourself away from it to exercise, but you must; particularly if you want to remain good at your job. So sticking to your resolution to stay in shape is all about finding a system.
To keep things interesting this year, I began Googling exercise classes in whatever part of the city I happened to be working in that day. This led to an incredible discovery: exercise didn’t have to be running monotonously or or lifting dumbbells, when I didn’t feel like it — there were of these interesting ways of staying active, I’d never even heard of! So I decided to try everything once — even aqua bootcamp, disco cycling, and samurai sword fighting (which I highly recommend).
This discovery made me change the way I viewed my “to do” list: instead of putting aside my work for an hour and trying to get motivated to exercise, why not use exercise as a vehicle to motivate me to do better work?
Over the past year, I’ve tried 72 new classes and with my new-found knowledge of what’s out there, I began picking my poison based on my work mood. Not only did this help me fit into my jeans better, it actually enhanced my business mind, believe it or not!
So, in light of the holiday season, I wanted to share my favorite exercises to suit any mood you might have as a career-minded person, in the hopes that it might increase your joy and success as well. So here they are in no particular order:
Mood: “I’m Gonna Kick Some Butt”
Okay, this mood usually surrounds a new endeavor. Maybe you’re starting a new business or have made the decision to make a career move and you’re planning your attack. What you are about to do is going to be awesome, but it’s going to take some cunning, stealthy, badass moves, which will unfold over a period of time. You need to get rev’ed up and stay in that zone.
Exercise: Crossfit, Boot Camp, or Circuit Training
Starting anything new and amazing is not easy, which is why you need to keep your mind in a peak state. I like circuit training or creating a little obstacle course for myself because as I’m going through each physical challenge, I use it as a metiphor for what I’m going to to at work. The small (physical) victories that I have during class put me in a winning state of mind, which allows me to return to my work feeling optimally confident.
Mood: “Somebody Royally Ticked Me Off”
Yep, it happens. Someone just did something that either screwed things up for you pretty good, hurt your feelings, or foiled your master plan. Eventually, you have to sort things out and deal with that person, but if you let your emotions get in the way, you might do something you regret. My advice? Don’t react right away…go to class instead.
Exercise: Bollywood Dancing
Okay, I know this sounds weird, but hear me out. When someone really upsets you, it’s best not to dwell on it because it can cause your emotions to run out of control. Plus, if you stay in a state of unhappiness, chances are, you will draw more negativity to you. What’s one good way to get rid of ill-will towards all humankind? Bollywood dancing.
The whole Bollywood style is a hodge-podge of a lot of different social dancing with it’s own fun, sexy flair. I’m usually a pretty terrible dancer, but for some reason, this style is my jam. The moves are relatively easy to do and definitely provide a great cardio workout. Plus, the music is absolutely infectious and transports you to a much happier place!
It may be hard to shake off your dreary mood at first, but in about five minutes, you will be reminded that the world is a lot bigger than your current trouble.
Mood: “I’ve Got a Really Good, Half-Baked Idea”
Have you ever gotten an incredible idea, but when you try to tell someone else, it turns out it’s full of holes? If the answer is yes, you have probably learned it’s best not to rely on others to fill in the gaps in your new idea. Instead, you want to present it in the strongest way possible, so that it’s better received. So rather than sharing the idea with them before it’s done, it’s best to think it out. Luckily, there’s an exercise for that!
Exercise: Kayaking or Rowing
When you’re working out a big idea in your head, it’s best to have an exercise that has a constant repetitive motion — this repetitive, mindless action actually allows your brain to wander and tap into it’s creative state. Kayaking is great because you get the calming sound of the water and the beautiful view to help inspire and enhance your thoughts, but if you don’t live near a body of water, stationary rowing machines will work too.
In addition to working out think kinks in your plan, it’s also a great arm workout!
Mood: “Something Super Awesome Just Happened”
Oddly enough, having something super awesome happen to me used to be the biggest derailer of my exercise. I guess I figured, “Hey, I did something good, so I don’t need to exercise today.”
Recent studies show that gratitude leads to increased productivity and happiness; when you are more happy and more productive, chances are more opportunities will come your way. I learned that when something entirely badass happens, you need to revel in that feeling and bring yourself to a state of gratitude if you want to increase your chances of more success.
So the next time you land a new job, get a promotion, take on a new book of work, or make a new sale, use exercise as a time of reflection.
Exercise: Aerial Yoga
If you haven’t tried yoga, you’re missing out. So many people have pre-conceived notions about what it is — my own mom recently asked me if yoga was for ‘really skinny people.’ It’s not. It’s for everyone.
I love the way yoga allows you to reflect and focus through physical movement. Aerial yoga is especially fun because you get the sensation of hovering weightlessly above the ground, which can certainly help you take your mind off your physical body and listen to your soul.
Mood: “I’m Going Back in My Shell”
We all feel nerves at one point or another and often, we let it stop us from putting ourselves out there. Do yourself a favor. Don’t.
When I booked my very first clients, I was thrilled. But as soon as we got into a working relationship and maybe one of them didn’t like a certain idea I had, it would throw me into a tailspin. Then I’d let the fear of losing them creep in and it would stop me from putting out my best, most creative ideas. So how did I fix that? I legitimately scared the hell out of myself.
Let’s make it clear that I’m terrified of heights. When you take a trapeze class, you’re perfectly safe (you’re in a harness, with a fluffy air mat below you in case you fall), but you do have to jump off a 25 foot platform, which can be terrifying. My first time, I feared for my life. I didn’t want to jump and I wasn’t going to…until a very intense, half-naked carnival worker suspended from a swing barked his trapezial commands at me. Sometimes, there’s nothing else to do, but jump.
There’s something about feeling mortal danger that makes the problems at work seem minimal! Scaring the hell out of myself has been great for business because it gave me perspective and allowed me to get out of my head. So now whenever I go white water rafting, zip lining, or sky diving, I always return to my desk, ready to fearlessly make a bold move.
I hope this article has given you some food for thought and that you might try channeling your own career moods into your exercise routine. Here’s to your increased health and success in 2017!
Originally published at medium.com