Defining Success

The past couple of months, I’ve really tried to diversify the information that I’m consuming.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m always reading or learning about training. That’s my first priority.

But at this point in life, it’s not my only priority.

As a result, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to structure my life over the next couple of years.

What makes me the most happy?

When am I filled with energy and enthusiasm?

Finally, what things are holding me back, or keep me from being my best?

These aren’t always easy questions to answer, as they force you to take a good, hard look at yourself.

And they make you figure out what’s working, and most importantly, what isn’t.

Before I get into all this, if you haven’t read it before you should definitely read my Manifesto Post from a while back. This will give you a little bit of insight as to my long-term goals and definition of success.

At this stage in the game, I don’t play by other people’s definitions of success. I’m through trying to keep up with the Joneses or be like other people.

I have my own definition of success and it’s unique to me and me alone.

With that being said, I thought some of you may enjoy the things that I consider important in my own life – things that I think will make me a happier and healthier person for as long as I’m around.

Without further ado, let’s get into this!

Live by the Four Agreements

I’m not sure who referred me to this book, but I’m definitely glad I picked it up!

The Four Agreements are quite simple:

  • Be Impeccable With Your Words
  • Don’t Take Anything Personally
  • Don’t Make Assumptions
  • Always Do Your Best

I don’t want to steal the author’s thunder, but this is a fantastic read and it helps simplify the life you lead. I try and remind myself to live by these four agreements on a daily basis, although each one can be difficult from time to time!

Perform the Sunday Ritual

While the workweek starts on Monday, I feel that for me, the foundation is actually laid on Sunday.

While Sunday is primarily a family (and nap) day, I do take about one hour out of my Sunday to set myself up for success during the upcoming the week.

In some cases, this could be preparing shakes, food, etc.

I do my own laundry, so Sunday is the perfect day for that.

But the most important thing I do on Sunday is game plan my entire week. I start by taking a few moments to ask myself one simple question:

What are my goals in the next 1, 3 and 5 years? In life?

This helps me reconnect to my goals and focus on the most important tasks to complete for the week.

Next, I do a “brain dump.” If you’re unfamiliar with the term, I simply write down every single thing that needs to get done (now or in the future) and get it out of my head.

This is huge for me because I’m really bad about letting things bounce around in my head. By doing a brain dump, I get it all out and I feel like my mind is “quiet.”

Furthermore, I hate going into Monday not knowing what to do. If you have a ton of stuff to do, the worst thing you can have is times of indecision where you are so bogged down and overwhelmed you don’t know where to start!

By adhering to this simple tip, I always know what needs to get done, and it allows me to enjoy the rest of the weekend knowing that the workweek will take care of itself.

Train Three Times Per Week

A few weeks ago, Zach Moore asked me a simple question:

“Do you still enjoy training?”

The cool thing was, there was no hesitation on my part. I still love training.

The issue, however, is that I also have other priorities in my life. Training isn’t the first and only thing I think about anymore.

I still love to train with my guys, and there’s no doubt that uncorking a big squat or deadlift feels amazing.

But with a wife, daughter, two business, etc., I have a lot of other things on my plate and the days of training 4x/week are a thing of the past.

Three times per week still allows me to achieve my strength-related goals, while keeping me sane and balanced in other areas of my life.

Have Dinner as a Family

Like many of you reading this, I grew up in the TV era.

Unlike decades past, fewer and fewer families sit down and actually eat meals as a family at the dinner table. I know my family in particular was pulled in about a zillion different directions, so the only times we ever had dinner as a family were:

  1. When we went out to eat, or
  2. On a holiday.

Jess and I have always eaten dinner together at the dinner table, and this is something we will always continue with Kendall. Even if we’ve been running around like crazy all day, it’s great to reconnect and talk about our day together.

I remember Dave Tate saying a while back this was one of the most important rituals you can get into with your children, and I’m buying what he’s selling.

Speak 10-12x/year

Speaking is one of those things that’s a love-hate relationship.

I hate the travel side of it, but I love sharing my knowledge with other motivated trainers and coaches.

Going back to my Manifesto post, my goal is to positively impact as many people as possible. One of the best ways to push massive change within the fitness industry is to teach coaches and trainers how to do their job better.

If you coach a client or athlete, you influence once person.

But if you coach a trainer or coach, you influence not only that person but also all the people they coach/train as well!

The goal is to slowly make it so that I have to travel less, and Bill and I can do more and more seminars at IFAST. But in the interim, 10-12 engagements per year is about the most I can do while keeping some semblance of balance in my life.

Attend 3-4 Seminars Per Year

One thing I need to get back to is educating myself. The best way for me to do this is to attend seminars.

Sure, I read every night and/or watch DVD’s, but there’s no substitute for going to a seminar and immersing yourself in someone else’s system.

Perhaps more important than what you learn at a seminar is that the thought-processes they tend to kick off. Often, I’ll walk away from a seminar with a few new ideas, but most importantly, I have a ton of ideas on how to do what we’re already doing better.

And for the younger pups reading this, there’s no better way to network and learn than to attend seminars. Often the discussions you have in the hallways between sessions are every bit as valuable as the presentations themselves.

Parent Getaways

A few weeks back, my wife and I celebrated her birthday by taking a night to ourselves. Grandma and grandpa came over to watch Kendall, and we enjoyed a night out on the town.

Being a great dad is something that’s incredibly important to me, and something I’ve relished over the past 15 months. Having a child is an amazing thing, and perhaps one of the most special times in your life.

But it’s also very easy to get so caught up in that world that you let other aspects and relationships in life slip. My wife is so important to me, and it’s a relationship that we’ve been working on for 14 years now. It only makes sense that we need time to ourselves to make that relationship as strong as it can be.

1 hour of continuing education

This one is simple and straight-forward – I’m a better person to be around when I’m learning and growing.

When I’m not, it’s like my body knows something is wrong and I’m slacking. As a result, I’m grouchy and not nearly as awesome as usual.

So basically, I need to stay on my grind and learn something for one-hour per day. The world will thank me later. 🙂

Front-load the week

One of the keys to getting older is figuring out when you’re most productive and maximizing that time.

Back in the day, I used to be a night owl. I would stay up until all hours of the night doing god knows what, but I was always the most productive after 9 pm.

Now, things are a little bit different, and my energy is definitely a lot different. I can tell you right now that my best writing, training, or anything “creative” in nature is best done before noon.

After noon, about the only thing I’m good at is coaching.

Along those same lines, I also make an effort to front-load my week and crush every Monday morning. When I do this, not only do I have this amazing sense of accomplishment, but it allows me to slow down at the end of the week when I’m naturally lower.

This works great for me, but make sure to figure out what works best for you!

Reconnect with Friends

If I’ve really slacked in one area of my life over the past couple of years, it’s been with friends.

Professionally, I’m incredibly happy.

My home life rocks – I couldn’t ask for a better wife or daughter.

But with everything else going on, it’s been hard to get out there and see some of my guy friends from high school and college.

With that being said, I’m going to make a concerted effort to get back out there and at least have dinner, coffee, or a few beers with the guys. These are relationships that meant a lot to me at one point in time, and while the phone works two ways, it never hurts to be the one to make the call.

Hold me to this one!

Here and Now

Last but not least, I’m blatantly stealing this from my most recent book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior (thanks to my good friend and IFAST coach Dan Brown for telling me about this book).

One lesson the main character in this book learns is that his mind has a tendency to keep him in the past, or thinking about the future.

Instead, the most important thing is what’s going on right here and right now.

Another way to think about this is to be present in whatever it is your doing.

This can be tough for me – I always have a tendency to be “thinking” about stuff. But I’m getting better at it with time as I become more conscious of my habit.

Another big breakthrough came when I realized when I’m speaking, writing, training, etc. are the times I’m most happy. And not surprisingly, those are also the times I’m most dialed in and focused on the present!

It’s taking some time, but I’m doing better about shutting my mind off and just enjoying the moment. If this sounds like you, I’d definitely recommend reading the book as well – it’s fantastic.


This post had very little to do with strength training, corrective exercise, or even coaching and training, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless.

After reading it, did you realize anything about yourself?

Maybe something you need to work on?

I’d love to continue the discussion below. Post a comment and let me know what you’re thinking!

All the best,



Leave Comment

  1. Great post Mike!

    I have actually been asking myself a lot of the same questions these past few weeks. Staying in the present is definitely the toughest thing for me, so I will be checking out that book!

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Hey Mike,

    Cool post! I have recently just read the Peaceful Warrior as well, it is pretty cool when you realise that the things you do with the most focus are the things that you enjoy the most.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Hi Mike

    This is a really great post, and I’ve done a lot of stuff with focusing on the now, trying reading “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle it makes you think…. I’m currently do some work on gratitude and have to say only started doing this and finding that I’m becoming a much more focused teacher and more in tune with the Pilates I’m teaching and where I’m going with my life.

    I love the fact you spend time with your family and friends as this is such an important area and so many people forget about that.

    Good luck with everything and thanks’ for writing a really good and thoughtful post.


  4. Great article Mike, I thoroughly enjoyed that!

    Having a centered and focused life has become a really important venture for-myself as well. I recently read the four agreements and truly enjoyed it. It looks like the Way of the Peaceful Warrior is my future, as staying present and staying in the moment is a big personal challenge for me.

    Have you ever read The Art of Learning?

  5. Cool post Mike – I am 22 (and so still making a lot of mistakes in general no matter how I try to avoid doing so 🙂

    My big thing I am working on at the moment is getting a sleep/morning routine in place (going to be before 11pm and getting up before 6am) – I have been bit haphazard so am getting mucher tighter with it now.

    Loved the bit about family, I have a tendency to get too wrapped up in myself and nothing is better than spending time with my neices/nephews to make me step back and see the bigger picture.

  6. Great post. My favorite people in the fitness world are “Gym Rats with Brains”. You and Bill are certainly on that list. Thanks for the reminder to get centered. It was much needed. Peace & Power!

  7. This definitely hit close to home. The more stuff you add to your life, the more you have to take out or simplify. Just like training. I have recently found myself not having the time to complete 4 days of training per week which is new to me. Thanks for this post!

  8. Mike, I always enjoy your more philosophical posts. The stuff you touch on in this post I feel like is the real key to being the best coach you can possibly be – namely, a strong sense of balance and direction, and a deep understanding of what truly drives you to give your best effort.

    Thanks for the insight. I hope you’ll continue to throw these type posts up on the site regularly.

  9. (sorry about my english, im from Argentina)
    Mike, i’ve read this post thanks to “Andrew Morgan” who shared it on facebook. And I think i’ve found a kind of “myself in the future”. Your objectives on life are really close to mine (not the same, since im another person) but I find your post to be really helpful on terms on getting the things done, which was beeing my problem lately.
    I’m actually trying to get organized in life right now, to get things done. But also I still need a lot of learning. The only thing I’m going to ask you about for now is if you are able to take 2 min to right down some titles of books or readings that you think helped you a lot on the learning phase both from strength training and also as a “life improving” reading. I mean books like the 2 you recommend on this posts (this one and My Manifesto). You just earned a big follower

  10. Your growth personally will help professionally, no doubt.

    I think you nailed it at the start of the post, when you described how you were done keeping up with the Jones’.

    I think as we get older, we become more and more comfortable within ourselves.

  11. Great post, thanks for taking the time to write it! I’m new to the blog, but definitely enjoying it.
    It’s so easy to get caught up in the business of day-to-day life and overlook the importance of continued goal setting, time balance and “here and now” living. This is certainly valuable for folks who haven’t thought of these things, and equally valuable as a re-affirmation to those of us who know but sometimes forget!

  12. WOW!!! Great read Mike! I’m planning to return east (NH/ME) to continue doing what I love in strength and conditioning. However, i do find myself thinking too much about being closer to family and friends, and not focusing on the now. I’ll check out that book!

Leave a Reply

Back to All Posts