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5 Fitness Hacks for a Busy Schedule

5 Fitness Hacks for a Busy Schedule

When life gets busy, fitness always seems to be the first item dropped from our to-do list.

The holiday season is a perfect example. Between hangovers and massive family meals, it’s easy to forgo fitness, especially when 2017 is right around the corner and you can just start fresh then.

But if you’re serious about making fitness a part of your life, you need strategies that can help you fit exercise into your schedule no matter how busy life gets.

Below are five hacks for getting your fitness in, even when life gets crazy.

1. Make Your Workouts Ultra Efficient

You only need to work out three days a week for 45 minutes a day. Dedicate one day to each of the three compound lifts: squat, overhead press, and deadlift. This is the bare bones workout plan you need if you’re serious about fitness.

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If you’re used to mixing in cardio or doing additional marathon training on top of that, you can scale back to just these three workouts when life gets busy, and still maintain your gains.

If you think cardio is worthless, the three compound lifts are all you need.

2. Work Out in the Morning

I know, I hate myself for even suggesting that we should all wake up early, but this is the one productivity hack that will absolutely change your life.

When you work out first thing in the morning, you eliminate the possibility that life will get in the way. Our lives are filled with unexpected traffic jams, last-minute drinks with friends, family members coming into town, and hundreds of other forces conspiring to keep us from exercising.

Working out in the morning lets you enjoy the day without fitness hanging over your head. If you accomplish nothing else the entire day, you can sleep easy knowing that at least you’ve worked out.

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3. Work Out on Sunday to Jump Start Your Week

Here’s another pro tip that’s not going to be wildly popular but is guaranteed to make a huge difference:

Start your workout routine on Sunday by tackling your least favorite compound lift.

I dread squat day, which explains why I didn’t squat until recently in my fitness journey. So for me, nothing provides a greater sense of accomplishment than starting off my Monday mornings knowing that I’ve already gotten my least favorite lift done for that week.

Gone are the Sunday night blues and the Monday morning scramble of trying to work out and make it to work on time. Don’t give Mondays a reason to suck more than they already do. Tackle your toughest lift on Sunday — the rest of your week will thank you for it.

4. Front-load or Back-load Your Workouts

I always advocate for rest days between compound lifts because they’re so taxing on your central nervous system, but you can move your workout days around if you’re really busy.

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For example, if you’re going on vacation in the middle of the week and doubt you’ll get to work out once you leave, it’s OK to stack your three lifts on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before you go. Three workouts in three days, while not ideal, is better than zero workouts in seven days.

If you aren’t in a bind with your schedule, always shoot for 48 hours between lifts so your body can recover and come back ready to attack the next workout at full strength.

5. Build A Home Gym For Cheap Using Holiday Deals

To help fit exercise into my busy schedule, I work out at home. If you’re like me and your wife generously gives you a spare room to set up a home gym (no small sacrifice in Hong Kong), take advantage of some of those holiday deals to buy yourself a squat rack for cheap. For a couple hundred bucks, you can get a new one delivered to your door.

Working out at home saves you from having to drive to the gym, get changed, work out, shower, and drive back home to change before going to work. You know, all those reasons you use to justify not working out.

All sorts of fitness equipment can be found for cheap around the holidays, but since we’re just worrying about the three compound lifts, your priority can be on a squat rack.

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Make Fitness A Lifestyle Change, Not A Time-Suck

Most people who put down “go to the gym more” as a New Year’s resolution spend the first two weeks of January hitting the gym every day. At some point, they get burnt out. They want their life back, and so they give up on fitness.

If you make fitness into this all-consuming activity that directly conflicts with the rest of your life, you’re going to fail. This is why all of the hacks I listed above center around one idea:

Fitness should fit seamlessly into your life.

By keeping your workouts as minimal as possible and figuring out schedules you can actually keep long-term, fitness will just become a part of your life—not an obstruction.

You might still have a busy schedule, but you’ll be in the best shape of your life.

Featured photo credit: Fitness and Health Matters via fitnessandhealthmatters.com

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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