How do you want to live?

How do you want to live?

I’m going to make a bold statement right now. In my mind, the reason there are so many unhappy, unhealthy and unfulfilled people in the world is because they were asked the wrong question when they were teenagers, and they keep asking themselves the wrong question. Honestly, how many teenagers have any idea of what they want to do in life? There may be some, but most, like me, have no idea what they want to do. However, I bet they could describe with clarity how they want to live, if they were asked.

As a teenager, I thought I wanted to do one thing and one thing only, to be a famous footballer. My parents didn’t think that’s what I wanted or needed and would continually ask me, ‘Andrew, what do you want to do when you leave school?’ I would tell them, time and time again, ‘I want to be a footballer.’ They loved me and believed I needed an education and were very persistent until I finally relented. I said, ‘Okay, okay, I don’t really care what I do as long as it has something to do with sport.’ I chose to do a Physical Education degree without any concept of where it was leading, because it sounded like ‘sport’ to me.

Well, after my four years of tertiary education, I ended up a teacher.Yikes! That’s not what I wanted to do, and I lasted about four years! I then started asking myself the question, ‘so, what do I want to do now?’ I thought I might want to get into the fitness industry because I liked being fit and healthy, so off I went, and found myself working in a gym which then led me into a personal training career. When I started personal training, I thought I wanted to be a successful personal trainer. Again, I was wrong! I became a successful personal trainer and had no life, as I ended up working from 6am to 9pm as a part owner of a ’successful’ business for 15 years.  

Then, as I had learned a lot about and become inspired by nutrition, I thought I wanted to own a café to sell healthy food and educate people. Again, I was horribly wrong. After two years of trying to combine a personal training career with a hospitality business, and working over 100 hours, seven days per week, I found myself with even less of a life and in almost $100,000 debt. At that point I was feeling disillusioned, discouraged and helpless. It was also at that point I finally realised after all these years, at that time I was in my late 30’s, I had been asking myself the wrong question. I had been incorrectly asking myself what I wanted to do, in every case it led me somewhere I didn’t want to be.

So, as I sat with my head-in-my-hands in the debt-ridden café, with no life and with no idea of how to get out of this situation, I asked myself a different question. I asked myself, ‘So Andrew, this is not what you want… how do you actually want to live?’ Immediately, I could see it with clarity. I didn’t have to think about it, research it or postulate over it. I just knew it, because it was in my heart and it was my destiny. I wanted to be making a difference in lives all around the world, I wanted to be financially free. I wanted to be optimally healthy and in a loving relationship. I wanted to be able to travel, speak and inspire. I wanted to be free to choose how I lived my life and spend my time.

By asking that question, my mind opened up to possibility. In fact, it was at that very moment I made what seemed to be the most illogical decision I could make, and I’ve made a few! I decided to write a book. I had no skills, experience, qualifications or time, so why would I make that decision? Because I could see it being the key that unlocks the door for me to be living a life I love. Well, here we are almost 20 years after that crazy decision, I am about to publish my eighth book and I am pretty much living the life of my dreams, the one I visualised when I asked myself that telling question.  

This is a long introduction to a pretty simple concept that I hope you will embrace as you reflect on 2020 and launch into 2021. Have you ever asked yourself, how do you want to live? If you did ask yourself this question right now, would you be able to answer it as quickly and clearly as I did when I asked it of myself? If you were able to create clarity about the way you want to live, can you see whether what you are currently doing will lead you there, or not? If not, would it be worth exploring some alternative options, that may not initially seem logical or possible, to help you live a life you love? I truly hope you ask yourself the right question and that you take the action you need to get to be living the way you want to live.

If I have stimulated or agitated something in you as a result of this blog, I would encourage you to listen to my podcast with week with children’s author Adam Wallace, called, ‘Remember death, live forever.’ It’s a wonderful conversation with a man who is living a successful and passionate life and is all about understanding we are only alive for a finite period of time and that a life of passion and purpose is available for us all. We do, however, need to start living, now.

This is my last blog for 2020, a unique year indeed. For me this year, things that I have learned, things I have been forced to change and things that I’ve done have helped me move closer to the life I want to live. 2021 is a blank page for us all, anything is possible, and I wish for you that you make it your best year yet. All I suggest is, before you set any goals or make any news year resolutions, you ask yourself the question, ‘how do I want to live?’

When no-one is watching

When no-one is watching

I want to try and shift your paradigm a little this week, if it needs shifting, that is. We live in a society where comparison, public image and wanting acceptance seems to be built into our psyche. Don’t get me wrong, it is awesome to get attention, acknowledgement and recognition from other people for the great things we do. We actually need that. However, I want to encourage you to aim for attention, acknowledgement and recognition from the most important person in your world. Yes, that’s you.

I am one of those people who, for much of my life, couldn’t operate without the attention, validation and acceptance of other people. It was exhausting! When you are constantly chasing people to notice the things you do and achieve, and when you continually require their approval to feel happy, you are in a no-win situation. Thank goodness I have evolved, grown and changed and am now completely happy with myself and can self-validate myself for things I do when no one is watching. In fact, now I get more fulfilment from the things I do that nobody sees than the things I do that gets recognised by other people. Let me tell you that is an awesome place to be.

On Monday mornings, in my neighborhood, we have rubbish collection, so people put their bins out on a Sunday night. Just a few weeks ago, we had some serious wind on a Sunday night that caused some havoc. The next morning, as I was taking Joia for her morning walk at about 6:30am, I observed that many bins had been blown over by the winds from the night before. These fallen bins would not have been emptied because the drivers of the garbage trucks do not take the time to get out, stand each bin up, then use the robotic arm to empty them.

It was only a week or so early when my bin was blown over and not emptied, and it was really annoying because I didn’t haven’t enough room in it for the following weeks rubbish. So on this morning, as I walked Joia, I stopped, stood up bins and replaced rubbish that had fallen out of them. There were probably about 10-15 bins that I picked up and so the walk with Joia took about twice the time. Let me tell you, at that time of the day, no-one was watching, but I felt amazing. In fact, no-one even knew what had happened because when they went out to bring in their emptied bin, they had no idea that the wind had blown it over nor that I had a picked it up again.

Now, I know this does not sound like a very exciting story or big deal, but let me tell you, it is. In my younger years, I would never have done this if people weren’t watching to see what a good person I was. Now, the only person who matters in this equation and needs to see me as a valuable person, is me. The truth is this, the success, happiness, wellbeing and fulfillment you enjoy in your life has much more to do with what you do when no-one is watching than when people are. Honestly, if we wait for people to watch and acknowledge us doing what we need to do to be happy and fulfilled, we will be waiting a long long time! Can I suggest, if you haven’t already, start doing things for only one person’s eyes, yours. Oh, and Gods, if you believe.

I used to live in an untidy house because it was just me and no-one else would see it, now I clean & tidy regularly, for me. I used to train my body and be fit, lean & healthy to be admired by others, now I do it because I love and value myself. I used to crave validation and do things that would feed my fragile ego and now I do things that I believe to be right, whether others are watching, aware or not. I have never been happier, healthier or more fulfilled than I am right now. So, my question, as always, is, what about you? What are you doing to be seen and approved of?

Trust me now as I make some statements. Your health will improve by the things you do when no-one is watching. Your self-esteem will grow when you are able to see the value in yourself, irrespective if anyone is watching. Your financial position will prosper when you start to do little daily things that nobody else sees. Believe it or not, your relationship with a person will flourish more through the things you do when you’re not being observed by them, than when you are. The impact you will have on this world will be a massive ripple effect that starts with the little things you do when no-one is watching.

This week, my friend, try to eliminate the need for approval and validation of others. This week, try to get out of your head and into your heart, as discussed with Sarah Willoughby in this week’s podcast. This week, know in your heart that you are a great person. This week, know that the only person who needs to love, approve and validate you is you. This week, spend your time focusing on doing things that nobody will ever see, but will cause a ripple effect and impact many lives. So, my question is, what are you going to do this week when nobody is watching?

Let it go!

Let it go!

As strange as it may sound, I am so grateful for 2020, and the COVID lockdown period. Why? Because it has forced me to slow down. I’m a striver and an achiever, and for much of my life, I have felt the need to always be busy and rushing to be seen as productive and valuable in my own eyes. What a crock of sh#@t! There have been so many times, running behind as per usual, I have found myself rushing to get out of the house, into my car and on the way. I would have my hands full of books, bags, food and drink for my journey, and then come to the front door to pick up my car keys. Hmm, how am I going to do that? I would try to manoeuvre the stuff in my hands to under my arms, my chin or between my legs so I could pick up my keys but would inevitably drop everything. Then, I realised, maybe If I just let go of everything I was holding, I could easily pick up the keys.

As simple as it sounds, if we are holding on to so much stuff, stopping us achieving what we want and really enjoying our lives, then we need to let some things go. There is a wonderful feeling of freedom, when we let go of the stuff that’s not serving us. In my life, and possibly yours, I know there are three areas I need to let things go. Firstly, I need to let go of things and relationships I’m holding on to that are not serving me or bringing joy and/or purpose into my life. Secondly, I definitely need to let go of limiting thoughts and beliefs that are holding me back. Thirdly, I need to let go of emotions that are damaging me.

I have had a beautiful week just gone, and a highlight was lunch with my dad and his partner Annette. I hadn’t physically seen them for many months, so it was awesome to hug them and spend great time with them. Annette told me that her mother was turning 100-years-old next week. Wow! She had already received messages from the Queen and the Prime Minister and is on the verge of celebrating a momentous occasion. When I asked Annette what she thought the key to her mother’s longevity was, she told me that her mother never really worried about much and was always able to let things go! She could let go of anger, anxiety, fear and resentment and just easily come back to a place of peace and joy. Boom! There you have it my friend. The key to longevity is avoiding damaging emotions by simply, letting it go.

This pandemic has really helped me to let go the need of being productive and busy every second of every day, and it has made such a difference in my life. Normally, when I have lunch with my dad, I think about what I should be doing, who I should be emailing and the next thing I should be creating. Incredibly, I don’t do anymore, instead I enjoy the moment. Then after dad and Annette left, I took Joia for a walk on a beautiful day and, about halfway around the block, we sat in the shade in cool grass together for about 15 minutes and just enjoyed the day and each other. I had let go of the need to be doing stuff and could enjoy the peace and beauty of the moment.

What are you hanging on to that is holding you back from picking up the joy and longevity available in your life at the moment? Are you holding to toxic relationships that are dragging you down? Are you holding onto an outdated way of doing things that are not serving you anymore? Are you holding on the ridiculous belief that you aren’t good enough? Are you holding onto thoughts that are not just creating anxiety, fear, anger and resentment, but are also impacting the choices you are making and holding you back from living your best life? Are you ready for my simple, but profound advice… let it go! Yes, it is that simple and it will change your life in an instant, as it has done for me.

In this week’s podcast, ‘The power of faith,’ with Pastor Matthew Law, we discuss how, with a strong faith, it’s possible to let go of many of the things that may be causing grief, disharmony, frustration and dis-ease. It’s a powerful conversation that I encourage you to listen to.

When you are clear on what you want for yourself and others in your life, and clear on your purpose, it’s easier to let go of the things holding you back. With clarity and purpose, you will become acutely aware of what and who is serving you and what and who is not. When you can trust and have faith that everything is okay, that the answer is there, that things happen for a reason and that you are good enough, you can immediately let go of the flawed thoughts that lead to damaging emotions, and start feeling and acting in a way that will lead to, what I like to call, joyful longevity.

It is absolutely a vision of mine to live joyfully beyond 100 years of age, just like Annette’s mother. There are so many wonderful things I plan to do on this planet before my time is up, and I want to get the most out every second that I can. Call me greedy, but I want quality and quantity of life! Every day I that live and learn, I am more and more convinced of one thing. That is, the key to your best life lies in your willingness to simply let it go!

Love yourself to optimal wellbeing!

Love yourself to optimal wellbeing!

It’s been well over 30 years in the health and wellbeing industry for me, and I have to say I have pretty much loved every day of it. There have been some challenges, some frustrations, some poor choices, some direction changes and some uncertainty, but I have loved the journey, nevertheless. As I reflect on my time, and what I have learned in the process of helping people reach higher levels of wellbeing, there is one thing I know for sure. That is this; no matter what you put in your mouth, do for exercise or change with your lifestyle, optimal wellbeing is not possible if you don’t love yourself.

After everything I have learned about eating, exercise, and all the other physical elements of getting into shape, and what I have observed about people who are living wonderful lives of optimal wellbeing and those who are not, I now know for a fact that it is an inside job. I have seen far too many people, including yours truly, thinking they could eat and exercise their way to acceptance, validation and self-worth. I was a crazy over-trainer and extreme eater, worried that if I missed a training session, or put even the smallest piece of indulgence-type food into my body, it would show, I would ruin all my hard work and not be admired. I ate super clean, I trained regularly, and you would look at me and say, ‘That guy is super healthy.’ You may think twice, however, if you knew what was happening in my head and consequently in my body.

In my head were doubts about how I looked and concern that I would not be admired. In my body was fear, stress and anxiety that was wreaking havoc on my immune system, my DNA and the other hormones and physiological processes in my body. Let me tell you this, and I want you to hear it loud and clear; no amount of salad, vegetables, steamed fish or chicken can compensate for self-loathing, and, the stress, anxiety, fear and resentment it causes. So, are you ready for my prescription for optimal wellbeing and joyful longevity? Here it is; feed yourself love and actively move towards self-worth.

The way we eat and what we put into our bodies is often a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. The extreme way I was eating, was a reflection of my insecurity and need to be admired. In my recent podcast conversation, ‘Building a positive relationship with food,’ with Craig Harper, he talks about his young years as ‘a fat kid.’ He describes how, even though he knew he shouldn’t be eating it, he would consume three meat pies, because, and I quote, ‘It would make me feel f#@&ing amazing for 20 minutes of the day.’ He then when on to say, ‘for the other 1420 minutes of that day, I felt ashamed.’ Why did Craig eat the three pies? It was self-loathing. The only way he could get any comfort to ease his turmoil was in that instantaneous moment of gastronomic pleasure.

I would ask you to assess, not the food you eat, but the inner voice that moves you to the choices you make. It is a firm belief of mine that all food is good. Of course, some we should eat more of and some we should eat less of. But, make no mistake about it, the food is not responsible for the results you experience in your life, it’s the feeling that moves you to eat the food that will determine your level of wellbeing and the quality of your life. Three meat pies did not chase Craig down the street, back him into a corner, hold him down and force their way into his mouth. He chose to eat them, to help ease his feelings of self-loathing. Craig is now in a very different place in his life and eats in a wonderfully balanced fashion, which includes some indulgence. He does it naturally and normally, because he has learned to love himself.

I have moved from my extreme way of eating to a far more enjoyable and balanced approach, which definitely includes, chocolate, alcohol and all the good stuff. Why am I in a better place with my eating? Because I love me! It has taken time, it’s been challenging, but I can honestly say, I love and value myself and I am worth looking after.

Right now, as you are reading this, I would ask you to monitor your self-talk. What are you saying to you? When you ask yourself how you feel about yourself, what is your answer to you? This is the place to start if you want to live a life of joy, wellbeing and longevity. Feed yourself positive words, audios, blogs, books and feelings, and, when you do, you will start feeding yourself in a way that will fuel and fortify your body. This is a big topic that I have covered very briefly in this blog, but my message to you is that you are good enough and worthy to be loved. When you start feeling that way, you will love yourself to optimal wellbeing.

I love me

I love me

So, who really is the most important person in your life? Who is the person that holds the key to your happiness? Who is the person that can unlock your potential and take you to the success you want in life? Who is the person responsible for the state of your relationships? Who is the person to lead you to optimal wellbeing and joyful longevity? Whoever you choose, as you answered each of those questions, you had better love that person unconditionally, because you don’t want to lose them, right?

For the question about happiness, did you answer with your pet, your partner, your parents or politicians? Wrong, it’s you. For the question about unlocking potential, did you answer with your boss, your coach, Tony Robbins or God? Wrong again, it’s you. For the question about relationships, did you answer with your partner, your parents, Oprah Winfrey or Cupid? Wrong again, it’s you. For the question about optimal wellbeing, did you answer with your personal trainer, your gym owner, Arnie or the person who makes the muscle bulking meal replacement? Wrong again, it’s you.

You already knew that, didn’t you? That being the case, if you are the person who is 100% responsible for the happiness, success, relationships and wellbeing you experience today and every day, then would you agree, you should be nicer to that person? With your consent I would like to ask a couple of tough questions. As you are still reading, I am assuming you have consented. Question one; how do you really feel about yourself? Question two; how is that working for you? Please, for the sake of your life, answer them to yourself honestly.

For much of my life, I didn’t think much of myself and consequently I strived to achieve in certain areas because I thought external success would help that self-love develop. I was skinny, I was shy and I was insecure as a child, and I believed that success as a professional athlete would help me love myself. It didn’t. As a personal trainer, I believed having an incredible body would lead me to self-appreciation. It didn’t. I thought the respect from others that came with being a published author would be followed by self-respect. It didn’t.

Even after many of the things I had aspired to and achieved, I still was left feeling sad, lonely and unfulfilled. Why is that? Simple; love, happiness, wellbeing and fulfillment are an inside job. I needed to change the paradigm I held about myself as no amount of money, achievement, recognition, success or status could compensate for a lack of self-love. After many years of self-loathing, I stopped and started exploring who I really was, at the core of my being, and I actually liked what I found. I discovered someone who had amazing potential. I discovered someone with a heart for other people. I discovered someone with a purpose to make a difference in the world. I discovered someone with a strong vision and large capacity. I discovered someone who was gloriously imperfect. I discovered someone who, whilst flawed and had made poor choices in his life, was committed to learning from experiences to grow personally and to help others. Ultimately, I discovered a pretty cool person underneath the outer casing.

As I started to like myself, I found more peace in my life. As my regard for myself grew, I found the answers to things I had been struggling with my whole life. In the process of being more embracing of myself, my abilities, my potential and even my flaws, I have got to the place I can honestly tell you that, right now, I love me. Wow, what a difference it makes, in everything! I am healthier, happier and more energised. I am clearer on my purpose than ever before. I am more courageous and less worried about other people’s opinions. I am attracting more great people and opportunities into my life. I feel settled within myself and not needing to chase external recognition and validation.

Are you ready to fall in love with yourself? I hope so, because nothing great will happen in your life until you do. As a great mentor of mine once said, you can’t hate yourself into a better life. Can I suggest you start today to change your paradigm and discover the things about yourself you like, you are proud of, you are good at, and the things you are aspiring to and striving to improve. You are pretty amazing, right? This week’s podcast, Shift your paradigm, change your life, by Alaina Schwartz will help enormously.  It is my hope that one word, one compliment, one self-recognition and one day at a time you will get to the point you can say… I love me!

It only matters what you think

It only matters what you think

We live in a global fishbowl these days, don’t we? With the internet and the many social media platforms, it’s hard to avoid other people’s opinions about the world, current situations and you! The moment you post a blog, a quote, an activity or a picture, you will get people’s reactions and opinions, whether you like them, want them or not. No matter what opinions you get from other people, even those you care about, just know that the only opinion about you that matters, is your own.

If you read last week’s blog, you will know I had a little mishap last Friday. During my regular Friday box-jump session, I slipped and fell, gashing my shin on the sharp edge of the steel outdoor table I was jumping onto. I found myself in emergency, getting x-rayed and then receiving five stitches in my shin to patch up the mess. After posting about it and referring to it in my blog, I was incredibly touched and grateful for the volume of messages, calls and care-packages I received from many wonderful people.

As you will know, if you read my blogs and post about the event, I felt very positive about the whole situation. It was amazing how little pain I experienced and how good the leg felt all week, so, as this Friday approached, I decided I need to get straight back up on that horse and keep the tradition of ‘box-jump Friday’ going. One week after my fall, feeling amazing, still with stitches in my shin, I went and did my session of box-jumps. This time I did them with more focus and attention to great form, and I completed them easily and felt amazing afterwards.

I took a short video and decided to post it on social media, with a very simple, yet profound message; Don’t let falling be the reason why you give up. Get up, learn the lesson, modify your approach and then go again and again and again. I knew, as soon as I posted the video, I would get a variety of responses to my decision to be box-jumping again in a time that, to some, would be considered too soon. Deep down, I was even looking forward to the variety of comments I knew I would receive.

As expected, and grateful for, I got a range of comments from people who were; inspired, impressed, encouraged, caring, surprised, shocked, confused and concerned. What’s the point? It’s that, no matter what you say, write, post or do, people will have a variety of responses and opinions about it. It’s important to know that how people respond or react to the things you say and do, has less to do with you, but more to do with the beliefs and values that they hold true for themselves. In my mind, an ‘opinion’ is an inner belief that has been triggered by an external occurrence. I just came up with that and am pretty impressed with myself.

Just think about an opinion you may hold about what someone else said or did. If it’s a negative opinion, it was because their external words or actions, conflicted with a value and/or triggered an internal belief you hold. Right? That being the case, you will never get everyone to like you, agree with you or accept what you do, because we all have different internal beliefs and values. Therefore, there is only one opinion that matters in your life, and that is yours. As for me, I am proud of myself. I am pumped that, at my age, I am able to box-jump. I am excited about my resilience and willingness to bounce back after a serious fall. What other people think about me, is none of my business.

In my podcast this week, called ‘Embrace your uniqueness,’ I speak with the amazing Natalie Matthews. She is the Founder and CEO of Height of Fashion, a fabulous fashion brand for tall women. She is six feet, three inches tall, loves wearing high heels and is not ashamed or embarrassed to tower above most people, or, worry about what they think about her. Her belief in herself and her self-confidence is inspiring. She is passionate about helping people love themselves, no matter their uniqueness, and, only worry about they think about themselves.

Worrying about what other people think about us is stressful, unhealthy, exhausting and a total waste of your time, ability and potential. You, and only you, know what is right for you. So, trust yourself, believe in your strength, embrace your individuality and do things that help you fulfill your purpose and live your best life, no matter what other people think. Remember, it only matters what you think.