Winning international Fitness competitions, hopping around the globe competing on the IFBB Professional Fitness circuit with an incredible group of inspirational women, being published in top fitness magazines, signing endorsement contracts, a Nutrition and Fitness consulting company that I had built from the ground up had a long string of clients waiting to sign up and I called the island paradise of Barbados home. In the spring of 2013 it appeared that I was on the top of the world.
Best friend. Husband. Checked out. Separation. Heartbreak. Divorce. Disillusionment. Over a period of 3 months my life was falling apart at the seams. It was toxic, painful and I was living what felt like sheer hell.
So my divorce was being finalized before I could blink and I was all on my own. I wanted to get back on track and refocus but it was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do. Anyone who has had a major setback in her life knows this feeling all too well. On one level there’s the desire to get moving again but on the other level, there’s a deeper, more hidden craving. I wanted to stop feeling the pain. I wanted to forget this happened. I wanted my heart to stop hurting. This was emotionally ultra-tender territory. I knew I wanted a comeback but I was still drained and haunted by emotions, questions and blame.
I think we are all programmed to believe that tough times aren’t the best moments to jump right into new flurries of activity. Awareness, intention, creativity and just not having hourly meltdowns are the energies required just to get through your day. But I wanted so desperately to be focused on something positive in this time of darkness in my life. I wanted to feel momentum and see light.
Do I hang up my hat and give up on my goals because of this massive unforeseen loss? How could I? Health and fitness has given me a sense of identity, become my passion, my career and a positive way to motivate and inspire others. Fitness isn’t my job; it’s who I am. So in the lowest point in my life I made the decision to recommit to competition and then immediately began my comeback! Over a period of 6 weeks time, smack in the middle of this emotional turmoil, I signed contracts and competed in three International Fitness competitions. And the results were beyond amazing. I claimed a second place and two wins.
Not only were these my first ever career wins but I now held the 2013 Arnold Classic South American Fitness Champion and the 2013 Toronto Pro Fitness title.
This time in my life was full of the most powerful, most valuable, life-changing moments I have ever experienced in my life.
Here are my ten steps to help YOU turn your moments of sadness and into times of triumph. My steps all include the mind, the body, the heart and the spirit, as all of these elements are significant energies for your comeback.
1. Kick your ‘Old Self’ to the curb
Sometimes during setbacks, we just want things to be the way they used to be. We think we want our ‘Old Self’ back. But remember your “Old Self” was the self that was living so unconsciously that this situation was created in order to wake her up! You really don’t want your “Old Self.” You want EXACTLY who you are now. Bruises, disillusionment, and all. These things all create wisdom. You aren’t going to be just a ‘New Self’. You’ll be a ‘Wiser Self’. She is there, waiting for this stuff to fall away so she can rise up. So embrace the new and improved you!
2. Repressing Emotions Keeps You Stuck
Even when the worst is over, the nature of emotion is that it can creep up and take over at unexpected, and often at the times when you least expect it. Bitterness, shame, regret, anger… All of it is a part of the human buffet of emotional ranges in painful situations. There will be emotional moments; lot’s of them. It doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to be a drama-queen forever. It simply means that there’s still stuff to deal with; which is normal and totally okay.
Now you shouldn’t let these emotions and thoughts rule your life from here on out however if you try to push them down, then the creative and positive energy that is meant to propel your life forward is actually working so hard at repressing these emotions that its ability to help you heal is diminished. You only have so much energy at the end of the day so give yourself space to grieve and feel the loss and sadness when you need to.
If you give them space and let them move through you, you might be surprised to find they move pretty quickly. But if you try to stuff them down they’ll probably stick around and will likely cause you further setbacks in the future.
3. Be Creative not Re-active
When we spend any prolonged amount of time in a place of reaction, it is very easy to forget how to get back into the energy of positive activity (creativity). Reactivity is the opposite of creativity. And creativity is the energy that has the power to heal, transform, and change our bodies and our lives.
Often, when a setback seems to destroy someone it wasn’t because of the setback itself. It was because the person never consciously moved herself back into her creative and positive space. Sadly she just stayed stuck in the energy of reacting to her life. Don’t let this be you.
One of the first places to begin your comeback must be re-introducing creativity back into your being – little by little. This might be unfamiliar territory at first and can almost feel impossible but it’s imperative. Creating a goal can be a great action to get the creative process started.
4. Create a goal and lay the foundation to achieve it
Now is the time to focus on YOU and what you want to achieve in your life. This will be a positive focus and some days may be that distraction that you need to get you through. Find a specific focus, write it down (this makes it more concrete and official) and make a list highlighting exactly why you want to achieve your goal. The reasons behind your goal are a very important factor in staying motivated and achieving success. Having trouble setting a goal?
Decide on three things that you want to achieve before you die. Then work backwards listing three things you want in the next twenty years, ten years, five years, this year, this month, this week and finally, the three most important things you want to accomplish today. And from there the one thing you want to focus on achieving right now.
5. Get motivated
Motivation is the process that initiates, guides and maintains goal-oriented behaviors. Motivation is what causes us to act and you are in full control of how motivated you are. Find your focus and your reason and dial into this every day. Most people are visual so creating a storyboard or cutting out inspirational photos and quotes and placing them where you can see them is a great motivator. I like using the fridge as a board as this is a great visual reminder to avoid emotional eating. This is a collage of the goals that excite you and when you look at them everyday they will soon be yours. Positive thoughts fill your mind and shape your focus.
6. Surround yourself with enablers and kick the naysayers
Surround yourself with successful, happy, resourceful and passionate people. These people will surprise you with their devotion to you and their passion for you to achieve your dreams. Why? Because these people know and understand what setbacks are – and they know what dreams are. Having this support will be more valuable than you realize. This will help you to move from bitter to better as soon as possible and be surrounded by people that lift you up and inspire you with their strengths of overcoming their own obstacles in life. This is powerful. The incredible women I developed friendships with during this time in my life all gave me the ‘girl-power’ to stay focused on my dreams. Not only this but we shared in some helpful smiles and life started to become fun again.
7. Identify what is and what isn’t under your control
I once heard someone say, “All you can do is all you can do. And all you can do is enough. But you better make sure you do all you can do.” I love this expression. You can’t control destiny or fate but you can control your actions. Make sure that you’re focused on the things you CAN control and not stressing about the things you can’t control. This is energy you don’t have to waste right now.
8. Care less about what others think
Someone’s definition of you doesn’t define you. Only YOU define YOU. Repeat this times ten. We all need to explore the limits of our power, push our strength find something that drives us to keep going beyond the pain and the fatigue, beyond what others have identified as the edge of our abilities. This process and time is about YOU not anybody else. Put yourself first and do what makes you happy and enables to you achieve success.
9. Failure is only permanent if you quit
Winston Churchill said it best “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”. Success is never permanent. After you achieve it you have to keeping working to stay successful. However setbacks aren’t permanent either… unless you make them permanent by choosing to quit.
Everybody knows that there are very few things in life more frustrating than putting your all into something and failing. But there is no reason to allow that response and the pain that probably came along with it to be the final chapter in your book. Take some time to re-evaluate what happened and then move on to the next opportunity because there’s something greater in store for you next.
10. New opportunities heal old wounds
I know you’ve heard the expression ‘When one door closes another door opens’. I have lived this! And the new opportunities that you pursue will shine light on your life and help the healing process. Be sure to stay focused on the door that’s opening and not the door that’s closed. You must see obstacles as opportunities as the real glory is being knocked to your knees… and then coming back. Enduring setbacks while maintaining the ability to show others the way to go forward is a true test of leadership.
A comeback is all in your control. Setbacks are always temporary and letdowns are learning experiences. They may be the toughest learning experiences of your life but there is no reason for an obstacle to turn into a permanent disaster. Let them be learning experiences and grow from them. YOU have the power to turn setbacks into comebacks and true successes. Don’t let ANYTHING or ANYONE stop you from achieving your dreams. Use that setback to remind yourself how much you want that goal in your life. I did and now my vision is clearer than ever before and my passion is at an all time high. Stay empowered, motivated, focused and never quit on number one – YOU.
If you think it, you can be it.