Nine Tips for New Year’s Resolution Success

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1.  Start With Data.

One of the big mistakes people make when tackling New Year’s resolutions is forgetting to begin with data!  If you don’t know where you are when you start, it’s hard to tell that you’ve made progress.  We seem to do this well for weight related goals — we get on the scale and take before pictures, or take body measurements.  Collecting start data for every goal is a big help when you are feeling discouraged in the midst of goal-getting.

life review photoDon’t know where to start? Do a Velocity Life Review – it collects your satisfaction scores in ten common areas of life & career (health & wellness, personal and professional relationships, fun & leisure, community, personal development, finances & compensation, strengths & values alignment, leadership, and communication).  We’ll email you your results & analysis for free!


2.  Make Your Goal HAPPY.

TheHappyMovieThe popular wisdom is to make your goal SMART – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.  We think making your goal HAPPY is a better measure of success.  

HAPPY goals are:

Harmonious – aligned with your other goals & life circumstances.

Authentic – aligned with your values and strengths.

Process-Driven – focused on both the journey and the destination.

Precise – specific, data-driven, with set benchmarks for success, and

Yielding – allowed to be redefined to meet needs & limitations.  

How do your resolutions rate on the HAPPY scale? 

3.  Know Your Values.

lifecamp-1705-editThis may seem like silly waste of time– how does knowing your values help you lose that last 10 pounds?  But the truth is, so many goals fall by the wayside because they don’t align with what is actually important in your life.  

So, how does losing ten pounds fit into your personal core values?  For me, “love” is one of my values. Focusing on my health is a way for me to show love for myself and my body.  

Try narrowing your rules to live by down to five or six key words or phrases. Then decide if your goals align to your values. Read about one of our client’s experience with figuring out her core values here. 

4. Know Your Strengths.

Aren’t resolutions about improving weaknesses?  Why would we ask you to focus on strengths?  For two reasons: first, research suggests that people who live a strengths-based life experience more well-being and success.  Second, strengths are the best tools you have to develop areas of weakness.  

Nike-FuelBandI spent *years* trying to convince myself to use the gym regularly.  With a 21 of 24 strength of self-regulation, it’s not surprising that the gym habit never stuck. I reframed my goal to use my #1 strength (creativity). Instead of “going to the gym” I chose to “be active” every day.  With a Nike Fuel Band to track my activity, I have built the most consistent habit of active living in my life. 

You can find your strengths by taking the preeminent assessment of Character Strengths (VIA Survey of Character Strengths). 

5.  Check Your Bandwidth

Do you have the time and energy to commit to your goal in 2014 or are you just hoping that it’ll somehow work out?  Bandwidth isn’t a one-time check on goal alignment (tip #2), it the day to day energy you have to focus on your job, family, life maintenance, and your goals. 

healthy-lifestyle-changeYou can increase your daily bandwidth by rigorously focusing on these six rules: 1) Get Enough Sleep; 2) Eat Well; 3) Get Active Daily; 4) Avoid Illness; 5) Eliminate Stressors; and 6) Practice Positivity.  These are all pretty obvious, but I bet you struggle now with at least one of them.  Make these six a priority and you’ll find that you have the time and energy to achieve any goal. 

6.  Start Small (Smaller Than That)!

start smallThe science of habit building suggests that when we are learning something new, and particularly something we don’t already have an aptitude for, small steps are best.  Why? We need to build up “wins” in order to feel like we are making progress. 

Let’s imagine Alice and Bob are both working on getting more active.  Alice commits to working out at the gym five times a week for an hour.  Bob commits to working out at least once in the gym, and being active at least 15 minutes four times a week.  

At the end of the week, they have both gone to the gym four times for a hour hour each time. Alice feels like a failure and wants to quit.  Bob is proud of over-achieving on his goal and is motivated to keep going. 

The lesson? Start small and you’ll finish big!

7. Eliminate Your Personal Roadblocks.  

We’ve already covered a few obvious roadblocks: goal misalignment (tip #2) and lack of bandwidth (tip #5). But it’s the less obvious personal roadblocks that are far more insidious.  We’ve all had past experiences that have made us feel we are too much or not enough. 

Photo Aug 14, 10 54 33 AMFor me, growing up overweight helped me internalize the message, “you aren’t athletic.” Even after I lost 150+ pounds, that limiting belief about myself kept me from going after physical goals. 

By first identifying the internal message and then choosing to discard it, I tackled some serious physical challenges, including finishing a triathlon!  What messages are holding you back? 

8. Get a Posse.

Diana_Nyad_record_swimmer_GreekOne of my favorite achievers of 2013 was 64-year-old Diana Nyad, who completed an unassisted 110 mile swim between Cuba and Florida.  It was her fifth attempt over thirty-six years! As she emerged from the water, she offered this advice, “…it looks like a solitary sport but it [takes] a team.” 

Win-win relationships (those with balanced give-and-take support) are critical to our ability to stay positive and overcome adversity.   

Take stock of the five people you spend the most time with.  At least a few of them will be your coworkers.  Rate them on a 0-10 scale (10 being best).  If your score for the five people combined is less than 35, it’s time to make some changes.  

9.  Get Dynamic!

brene brownResearcher Brené Brown has spent much of her career taking a stand against perfectionism. In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, she writes, “Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect.  Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfection is more about perception – we want to be perceived as perfect.  Again, that is unattainable — there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying.” 

Can you related to any of these perfectionist traits? Fear of failure, focus on destination only, all or nothing thinking, defensiveness, fault-finding, self-critical, rigid, need to do it all, habitual procrastinator.

 Understand that you will likely screw up in pursuit of your goal.  You’ll probably fail a time or two.  That’s ok.  It’s not about having a perfect record.  It’s about continuing to try, to learn, to grow.  

We’d love to help you achieve your goals!  Join us for our next Success U course or contact us about a free one-to-one coaching session

You Can’t Get Over It.

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Adam's HelmetTwo weeks ago, my brother Adam was in a mountain biking accident. He fell off a ramp and pile-drove himself into the ground head/helmet first. When he landed, he couldn’t move. We learned later that if he wasn’t wearing a helmet, he might not have made it at all. Over the next few days, we learned more than a family ever wants to know about spinal cord injuries.



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His is called Central Cord Syndrome –  it’s a compression injury to the spine by the neck (C4 and C5 vertebrae) that impacts the body’s ability to control motor movements in the arms. Because of the swelling and trauma to his spine, all four of Adam’s limbs are affected to some extent as well as some autonomic functions of internal systems.

The good news is that with time and rehab, Adam should walk again and has the possibility of getting much or all of the movement back in his arms, wrists, and hands. From the first day in the hospital to today, he has already regained or grown movement in all four limbs, including small movements in his index fingers and thumbs. His recovery will be one of incremental steps over weeks and months and each additional movement will be hard won through muscle spasms, nerve pain, and exhausting rehabilitative physical therapy. In the meantime, my family is rallying around to support him, his wife, and their three adorable sons (ages 5, 4, and 11 months). (Read more here about how to help).

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The first week of the accident, I flew home to be by his and my family’s side. We prayed together, cried together, we educated ourselves, and we started putting the plans in place to support my brother and his family over a long haul. I flew home and cried some more – wishing I could stay and help, wishing I could take on his injury myself (I’m single with a cat — he has a family and three sons to support!), wishing and hoping for the outcome to be great.

This week, I chastised myself – I have work to get back to. I have clients to continue serving, I have classes to teach, I run a weekly networking group that needs my leadership, I have a wonderful boyfriend to be a partner to, I have friends to stay in touch with, I have laundry to do. The mantra in my head was this – GET OVER IT. Get. Over. It. I felt like now that I know what is going on, and how long the process is going to be, I needed to stop moping around the house, stop refreshing my sister-in-law’s blog fifty times a day hoping for an update, stop calling my family for updates, and just get back to “normal.” After all, I am not the one in the hospital, right? I’m not trying to juggle getting the boys off to school, picking them up, nap times, lunches, dinners, my husband’s rehab, and responding to the hundreds of people wanting to help with all of the above. I’m 800 miles away living my life – GET. OVER. IT.

But here’s the truth. When trauma happens — to you, or to someone you love – there isn’t a getting over it. Asking yourself to “toughen up” or “get back to normal” or “let it go” doesn’t work. And, it doesn’t honor the sadness and grief that is so normal after a traumatic event. The goal isn’t to get over it. It’s to GO THROUGH IT.

Go through it.

Don’t try to minimize the pain you are feeling, but experience it. Understand that this deep pain comes from a wonderful place – the love and compassion you have for the people you care most for. Be kind to yourself – forgive yourself when you are forgetful, or weepy, or not all there. Get more sleep (or at least enough sleep). Reach out to your own support network. But don’t minimize your experience. Don’t tell yourself to Get. Over. It.

go through it

There are no short cuts in grief and trauma. Go through it. Experience each bit of sadness and pain. It won’t feel this bad always – it will get better. And you’ll be a stronger person for going through it.

The Bold Road

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-By Jaime Willis

Yesterday, I finished a triathlon. A half-mile swim, a seventeen mile bike ride, and a three mile run. I covered over 20 miles of land yesterday with my body as the only fuel.

I was afraid I wouldn’t finish.

Matt and I started this triathlon training business several months ago at the urging of one of our close friends. I already had (have!) a huge physical challenge goal for 2011 (50 10k runs), so I wasn’t initially too keen on signing up for another challenge, but decided to play along.

After we decided to “go all in” and do it, I was a flurry of planning & action. Just like many people who are excited to start out a big goal, I was geared up for this race. I bought a bike and bike gear, I found out where I could practice swimming, I changed my running lengths, I bought swim gear. I began practicing the swim distance, I started riding my bike to work.

Like many other people, though, this goal fell by the wayside as life got in the way. Matt and I talk about using your core values as your guide, and the other things I was occupied by during my days ranked higher in my core values than this race. We even had a discussion a few months before the race where we both acknowledged that we weren’t training as much as we should be and concluded that we were on the right track in life, if not on the “best” track for this triathlon.

In the month before the triathlon, I swam once. I rode my bike twice. I ran twice. That’s all the training I fit in. I was afraid I wouldn’t finish this race because I *know* what it takes to prepare for the race, and I didn’t do it.

Two weeks before the race started, one person, then another dropped out. I thought about doing the same. I didn’t need to do this triathlon. In the end, I decided that I needed to stick to my word more than I needed to buy into my fears.

My biggest fear was ‘being swept.’ The race director decides what the maximum time is for each leg of the race — and I knew I had to be out of the water in 40 minutes, and done with the bike within 2 hours of the race start. (Turns out I read wrong, and athletes had 2.5 hours to start the run). That was going to be a challenge for me — I knew I could do the distances, as I’d done them all before, but I wouldn’t be fast. Would I be fast enough to beat the sweeper?

The night before the race, Matt, his wife Yu Jin, and I drove the course. It was beautiful, but challenging. The entire course was hills. Steep hills. Rolling hills. No flat land — either you were cruising down a hill or working your way up a hill.

Added to that, thunderstorms were rolling through the Shenandoah Valley. The race director was rapidly responding to increasingly frantic messages from athletes wondering if the “race was still on.” He started out telling people it would be a “game time decision,” but when that didn’t suffice, he let athletes know that if thunderstorms prevented us from swimming (lightening and water don’t mix), we’d attempt a dualathlon (biking/running), even in the rain. Racing through the hills on a road bike in the rain made me a little anxious.

When I got back to my hotel room, I spent some time visualizing my whole race. What I was wearing, what I was doing, how I felt. I also spent a fair amount of time requesting the weather hold off until 11am so we could finish the race without rain. I tossed and turned all night, finally calling it quits to sleep at 5:00 am, and started packing and preparing for the race.

Matt and Jaime before the race

We arrived at 6:30am at the course — it was bustling with activity. Matt took a moment to pump up his tires and mine, and then we walked our bikes to the transition area. Right before entering the transition area, I heard a loud BANG. I was startled a bit, and looked around for the culprit — who was setting off fireworks this early in the morning? Then a fellow triathlete pointed to my front tire, which had just popped. Oh Boy.

This is where Matt’s colleague, Brian, saved the day. An early riser, Brian arrived at 5:50am and was completely ready to race before we even got there. When he saw my tire, he took my bike, told me to finish setting up and went over to the bike shop and began repairs.

I got marked for the race, got and put on my ID chip, and set up my gear, all the while wondering if my tire was fixable, and if I’d really be running this race today. After all, I think I held the record for the most inappropriate bike for racing — a 1976 Schwinn Varsity — the original 10-speed bike. The bike itself weighs 42 pounds, compared to a modern racing bike, which weighs around 20 pounds or less.

Luckily, Brian and the Bonzai bike team really hooked me up and my trusty steed was ready to go back to the transition area. I was the only racer that had a kickstand to use in my bike set up — both useful and comical, under the circumstances. Brian commented that maybe next time I do a tri, I would consider removing the kickstand and LIGHTS in order to reduce my bike’s weight.

Kickstand for the win!

Before I knew it, it was time to make our way to the beach for the swim. Matt was in wave 1, Brian in wave 2, and I was in wave 3. We chatted on the beach for a minute, being thankful that the weather was in our favor before we separated and lined up to start. I got to the back of my wave, because I knew swimming wasn’t my strong suit and didn’t want to be run over by my wave-mates.

The horn sounded. The race began.

The first twenty or so meters, I flat out sprinted in the water — coming up for air shortly down the course completely spent and nowhere near finished. “Wow,” I thought, “I really need to pace myself.” I used Sam’s tip and flipped onto my back and began backstroking through the water, alternating occasionally between that and the breast stroke to ensure I was headed in the right direction. After an eternity, I finally made it to the first buoy.

I flipped on my back, and began backstroking with a vengeance, surprised that no one was hitting me as I swam. Then I heard someone yell, “Where are you going?” I flipped around, and there was one of the lifeguards next to me on a surfboard. She asked again, “Where are you going?” I said, “I don’t know, where am I?” She said, “You are back at the first buoy. Turn around and you’ll see the second buoy.” My face must have displayed my defeat, because she said, “Hey, you’re fine. Just flip over every few strokes to make sure you are pointed in the right direction. You can do this.”

The only bonus to swimming the wrong way was that I was now in a “lane” in the lake almost to myself for most of the rest of the race. By this time, everyone in my wave had passed me, as well as many folks in the waves behind me. But I just kept swimming.

I looked at my watch and realized I would still make the cut off, if only by 10 minutes, so I kept swimming. As I switched from backstroke to breast stroke and back, I noticed one other light blue cap in the water slightly behind me. Someone else from my wave was still in the water! My mission for the rest of the swim was just to stay in front of that person. If I could get through the swim before them, I wouldn’t be dead last in my age group!

Twenty-seven long minutes after I started, I ran out of the lake and up onto the beach to the yelling and cheers of the crowd. I did a slow jog through the beach area, up the stairs and to my bike. My bike had no water bottle rack, and I never did anything about that before the race, so I was going into the seventeen mile bike ride with no access to water. I spent a minute in the transition area chugging a whole bottle of water so I wouldn’t get too dehydrated on the bike.

The first hill wasn’t so bad, and the first downhill was so fast, I braked a lot — I was nervous I’d wipe out and disqualify myself from the race. Much of the race I did by myself — I didn’t have a lot of racers near me. In the first half hour on the bike, I saw all the elite athletes whip by me in the opposite direction. It was funny, because they sounded different — their bikes whooshed by, while mine creaked through the course.

Without any navigation aids or mileage clocks, just a watch, I really didn’t know how far I was into the race. I did the first turn and then the second, and just plodded through the course. About a half hour into the bike, I thought to myself, I am actually going to finish this. This is hard, but doable, and I’ll finish this race. I passed a few people as I was riding, and to every one I said, “We’re doing this!”

A hour and thirty-two minutes after I started, I was back in the transition area, kick-standing my bike, throwing off my helmet and running on to the course. My legs were beat from the bike, but I kept plodding along at a slow and steady pace. A woman came up from behind and before passing me said, “You are my inspiration — you are a work horse — I know you’ll finish this race.” That comment literally got me through the next three miles.

I saw Brian heading into the finish line as I was heading out onto the course and shouted a “Great Job!” to him. A mile into the course, I saw Matt — we did our exploding fist pound, which made me smile like a loon for the next stretch of road. I yelled out “Great Job!” to everyone I passed and to those who passed me. I made a goal when I started the run to finish in forty minutes, and I kept track on my watch as I hit the 1 mile, the half way point, and the 2 mile to see if I was staying on target. The last mile was brutal — the sun had come out, so it was finally hot out. My legs were spent and the hills just didn’t stop. I alternated between a fast walk and a slow jog.

I looked down at my watch and saw that I had 4 minutes to make it to the finish line to make my time and started jogging again. As I hit the final stretch almost three hours before I began, the cowbells and shouts began.

Forty minutes after I started the run, and two hours and forty eight minutes after the starting horn went off, I crossed the finish line.

At a birthday dinner I was at last Friday, the guest of honor shared a story she learned from her father. His advice was, “If you are at a crossroads and can’t decide which option to take, go with the bolder one. You’ll never regret it.”

I am so glad that I overcame my fears and chose to run this race. It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you are, how prepared, or even how good your gear is. We are all greater, stronger, better, and wiser than we think we are.

Take a chance. Take the bold road. You won’t regret it.

Your Energy Options

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-By Jaime Willis

Matt and I are very excited to let you know that we are both now certified to administer and debrief the Energy Leadership Index Assessment (ELI). If you are interested in taking an ELI and want more information about pricing, please email us.

The ELI Assessment isn’t like other corporate assessments (Myers-Briggs, DISC, Kolbe), in that it is an attitudinal assessment, not a personality one. When you get your Myers-Briggs, DISC, or Kolbe results, those results are yours for life, and your job is learn to work with your personality instead of against it to get what you want out of your life.

By measuring your attitude, energy, and level of consciousness, the ELI really allows you to understand your leadership potential, your personal satisfaction, and your awareness at the time you take the test. When you get your results back, Matt & I provide you with a full debrief of where your energy is currently. If you’d like to improve that energy, we can help you do that too.

Someone was asking me the other day to explain the levels of energy in more detail, so I came up with this analogy. Imagine you are going through your day, and your energy level is equivalent to the amount of light you have available to you. Let’s look at how much light you’d have at each level of energy.

If you are operating with level one energy, your flashlight would be so dim, it would be hard to see anything, even things that were directly in front of you. As you go through your day, everything would seem harder – you would struggle to just make your way through the tasks required of you. You may see other people’s flashlights shine brighter and be sad that you got stuck with such a dim flashlight – bad things like this always seem to happen to you. You may blame yourself for getting such a crappy flashlight.

If you are operating with level two energy, your flashlight would be slightly brighter, but would occasionally blink on and off and may fluctuate between really dim and slightly brighter. Trying to get anything done with your flashlight would be infuriating, as you never felt like you could count on your flashlight to produce light when you most needed it. If you saw someone else with a bright flashlight, you’d be angry, wondering why they got a better working flashlight than yours. You may wonder who has it in for you, giving you such a crappy flashlight.

If you are operating with level three energy, your flashlight would be bright enough to light your path a few feet in front of you. You’d be happy to have a working flashlight, and go through your tasks with relative ease. But you might wonder what your life would be like if you could see even further with your flashlight. You may feel like you are just settling for what’s right in front of you instead of exploring the whole world around you.

If you are operating with level four energy, your light is a lantern – you can light up an entire room with your energy. You use your lantern to help light up the room for those you care about – you may provide light at your office and light up a common room in your house for your coworkers and family. Sometimes, you may wish that you could turn off your light and get some sleep, but you want to make sure that everyone who needs to use the light can, so you stay up until everyone else is done using your lantern. You feel great about being able to help light people’s way every day.

If you are operating with level five energy, your light is a huge spotlight. You can see the path in front of you for miles, and you are excited about traveling towards your destiny. You can see challenges in the path ahead, but your light gives you the opportunity to make the best of the difficult path. You are happy to help others and providing them light, so long as it doesn’t distract from your path in life. Lots of people begin following you, as your spotlight makes you a natural leader on your journey.

If you are operating with level six energy, your light is powered by a solar panel array. You can synthesize light from all different sources and use that to power your flashlight. If the day is cloudy, and you aren’t getting much light from your flashlight, you just appreciate the experience of living life in dim light. When your light is fully charged and bright, you appreciate the experience of living in complete brightness. You enjoy whoever and whatever comes your way, and are completely happy with the ups and downs of your flashlight’s light.

If you are operating with level seven energy, your light is as bright as a sun. Your light is literally exploding with creation as your sunlight lights the entire world around you. You are able to enjoy every single person and experience that is awash in your light, but may find it difficult to connect to individuals on a personal level, as your light is almost too bright for one person alone to experience.

In reality, you are going to fluctuate between each of these levels all day long. The idea is that if you would be happier operating at a higher energy level, what things in your life and more specifically, in your attitude and awareness can you change to make operating at a higher energy level easier for you?

TGIF: Brian Costanzo

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This Goal Is Finished
Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!
If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.
You can sign up for our weekly inspirational newsletter or a complimentary coaching session by clicking on the buttons to the right.

Today’s TGIF Achiever is an amazing mentor and leader for Matt, Brian Costanzo.  Although Brian has enjoyed plenty of career success, and deservedly so, the goal he chose to share with us to today is a personal one.  Brian did such an enjoyable job of telling the story that we are going to forego our traditional TGIF Interview format and let this achievement unfold on its own for you.

Have a wonderful Friday and weekend!

Is it the Goal or the Journey?
By Brian Costanzo

Brian, his wife and two awesome children. 

My name is Brian Costanzo, and I am a runner. To me, running is my time to meditate, my time to dream big, and my time to reflect on how fortunate I am for my health, success and relationships.

Needless to say, I set goals in my life regarding running. So last year, I ran my first relay race (Ragnar) with 11 other crazy people who wanted to run 200 miles in a 36-hour time period with little or no sleep (and riding around in a minivan). Sounds like fun, right?

To achieve any plan, one must prepare and train. I usually run 3–4 times a week for roughly 3–4 miles at a time. To train for the relay race, however, it’s recommended that you put in 30-40 miles a week (with a long run of 10-12 miles) for a few months in advance of the event. My goal was to run my three legs of the race under a 10-minute pace (OK, young runners … I’m not in my twenties anymore when my pace was in the sevens. Oh, how I miss that speed!). The goal for our team, called WTF (Waynewood Track and Field), was not to end up in last place in our category.

Waynewood Track and Field: The WTF Team

We took off at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, 24 September, and made our way to Cumberland, Maryland. Before the race, I shaved the head of Ben, one of our team members! The race started promptly at 8 a.m. with the sound of a horn, and off our first team member went. That is when reality sunk in, and I was a little nervous! It was already 90 degrees outside, and it was expected to tip over 100— not ideal running conditions!

My first leg of the relay race was eight miles— two miles flat, two miles up, an eight-percent grade, and then a rolling path. To be honest, the eight percent was freaking me out. My team members assured me, however, that I had put in enough training and that I would be just fine. I also think it was the “unknown” of not having run three times consecutively in a day, with no sleep and in the dark in some cases. That said, we did do several night runs with headlamps during training. With anything I do, I look at the positives and look to overcome the obstacles. I said to myself, “Whatever happens today, I know it is going to make for a good story or two.” We cheered on as the runners transitioned, and then drove up to the transition point, where I was scheduled to receive the bracelet.

Chatting with Christa at the transition point.

Ben arrived while I was chatting with Christa at the transition point. I started my journey of eight miles slow and steady. Every time I run, I always remember what they taught me when I ran marathons years ago: Do not to go out of the gate to fast; pace yourself, warm up and then test your endurance. With that in mind, I ran for 2 miles along a country road, where I passed a few barns and houses. It was a great run, and I was falling into a rhythm, confident and assured that this would be a breeze!

The scenery during our run. 

Remember that grade? I was conveniently forgetting it. I was so caught up in enjoying the moment that I paused on an old rusty steel bridge to look at the running water and listen to how quiet it was. I told myself that I need to stop and take it all in. The real test for me came as I was climbing up an old gravel road for two miles at that eight-percent grade. As I approached the hill, with the temperatures in the 90’s, I looked around and there were four to five other runners ahead or behind me. Along the entire race, there was many times that our team van would stop and motivate each other. Unfortunately, on this leg I was on my own when I needed encouragement the most.

The first five minutes were good. I took shorter strides and worked my way up the hill. I thought, “OK, I got this!” As I climbed the hill, I was sweating more and more. I drank more water, and that helped a bit, but I could feel my pace slowing down … so slow that I could see a caterpillar crossing in front of me. Then a woman passed me! (Ladies, don’t take that the wrong way … it’s just a guy/ego thing). When I passed her, another runner passed us both. We must have gone back and forth several times. And as much as it pains me to walk on a run, all of us walked and ran up that damn hill. We inspired each other and ran together.

Working through a leg of the relay. 

With my team hopefully at the top of the hill to cheer me on, I found new inspiration in this team that was tackling the hill together. We found strength in each other. As we crested the top of that hill, hearing the roar of the crowd, we gave each other high-fives. I went on to finish the rest of that leg, and overall I met my under-10-minute goal. It is amazing to me that my sense of accomplishment was not finishing my three legs or running with our last runner at the National Harbor. No, my accomplishment was taking it all in along the way, bonding with my team—as well as my new “hill team”—and making it up that hill. Goals can be anticlimactic. We are driven in life to achieve a number or a finish, and I encourage us all to stop and think about all the ways we grow along the way. The journey.

This September, when WTF gets back together for Year 2, I will not have the same fears of the unknown. I will train mentally and physically to achieve the results that I expect. As my dad says, and as I tell my own kids, “Practice makes perfect.” One of my goals will be to run under-10-minute miles, but my main goal is to get to know the rest of my 11 team members better and to bring my camera to capture the journey.

How’s Your Energy?

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-By Jaime Willis

“The higher your energy level, the more efficient your body is. The more efficient your body is, the better you feel and the more you will use your talent to produce outstanding results.” -Tony Robbins
Through our coach training program, Matt and I have been learning a lot about how to be happier and more successful by raising our energy. I wanted to take time this morning to share a little bit of what we learned and how it’s impacting my life.
When you break life down to it’s smallest building blocks, we are all made from energy. Energy is what makes us and the entire world tick. In the book, Energy Leadership, by Bruce D. Schneider (read this book, by the way, it is excellent), Bruce posits that if we are all made of energy, then improving our energy is what we need to work on to have happier, more fulfilled lives.
Schneider breaks energy down into seven categories or levels, the higher the level you can operate in, the happier you tend to be in all areas of your life.
Chart courtesy of Bruce D. Schneider and iPEC Coaching.
To break the levels down into easy to understand language, lets think of them in terms of winning and losing.
Level 1: I lose. Level 1 is victim energy — think of Eeyore’s “woe is me” attitude.
Level 2: You lose. This level is all about blame and anger. If something is wrong in my life, it’s your fault.
Level 3: I win. This is the first level with more positive than negative energy. You take responsibility for your actions and you make stuff happen.
Level 4: You win. This is the quintessential “mom” level — you want the best for others, so you will do whatever it takes to help them achieve.
Level 5: We both win. This level is all about opportunity — no matter what the situation, you can find the opportunity in it and work to find the win-win for everyone.
Level 6: We always win. This level is all about the experience. It doesn’t matter if it is “good” or “bad,” the experience is worth the ride.
Level 7: Winning and losing are illusions. This is the highest level of consciousness, when you are connected directly to your higher power and are experiencing absolute joy.
What is fascinating about these levels to me was learning that 85% of the world operates at Levels 1 & 2! How different would our community, much less our world be if we could all learn to operate at a Level 5 — where everything is win-win? (As a side note, it is really difficult for mere mortals to operate at Levels 6 and 7 for more than a short period of time, so striving for a baseline Level 5 energy is the typical goal).
As part of our training, Matt and I each took Energy Leadership Index Assessments, which measure our baseline operating energy level. As someone who loves to help others, I was sure that my assessment would show that I was operating at a Level 4.
I was shocked to discover how much Level 1 and Level 2 energy that I still had in my life, and what a huge impact it had on my baseline score. Although I have a ton of Level 4 and Level 5 energy, it is being masked by self-pity and conflict. What a wake-up call!
When I got my results back, I was upset (Level 2 – ha!). I didn’t want to believe that the test was accurate. Then I started to notice how quick I was to snap at others throughout the day, (Level 2), make a snide comment about a situation (Level 2) or lament the fact that the bus *always* shows up just before I cross the street (Level 1). Wow!
What is great about this process is that your energy level is not immutable — you can change! Just noticing my energy levels has had a positive impact — I am less likely to make snide or “woe is me” comments, and try to find the opportunity in each situation. I’m a work in progress (aren’t we all?), but I am confident that when I retake the ELI Assessment in several months, my score will be dramatically different.
If you are interested in learning what your own Energy baseline is, contact us and we can give you additional information about completing an assessment and debrief.

TGIF: Becky Roemen and Chelsea Dennison

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This Goal Is Finished

Good morning achievers! Hope you’ve had a wonderful week!

If this is your first time on our website, welcome. Velocity is about helping you find and achieve your passion through personal goal setting. You can find out more about us by clicking on any of these links.
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This week we’re doing something a little different — we have two friends who set and achieved TWO awesome goals together.

The Achievers
Becky & Chelsea
This picture was taken before they each lost 25 pounds!

My name is Becky Roemen and I live in Alexandria, VA. I am originally from the Midwest but have been in the DC area for the past 12 years.

My name is Chelsea Dennison and I live in Arlington, VA. I’m originally from New Jersey but moved to DC for a job about 3 years ago!

We both work together in Alexandria at the Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

The Goal
The goal was to lose weight and get physically healthy, which included running our first race.
Why This Goal?
Becky: I knew that I needed to set a goal to stay motivated with my exercise and diet. I chose to do the Race for the Cure because I could join a team of friends that were all running to honor a friend’s mother that is a breast cancer survivor. It was important to me to set a goal not only to keep me motivated, but that was meaningful.

Chelsea: I was finally in a place in my life where I was mentally ready to commit to getting healthy. Although I never considered myself an athlete, I knew that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and was determined to become a runner. By training for a race, it helped my goal to lose weight along the way.

The First Step
The first step was actually getting out of the house and onto the treadmill. We researched a variety of plans and both opted to try the couch to 5k. I’m not sure either of us completed the training program as it was laid out, but it got us out and moving for the first month.

Becky: The first obstacle I faced was a mental one. I needed to overcome any doubts I had about being able to accomplish my goals. For me these were not easy to overcome but there are a few things that helped. The first was the encouragement from those who knew about my goal(s) and would check in on my progress. People believing in me was inspiring. The second was celebrating the small wins and sharing them. As I recognized each small victory, I gained confidence that I could make it to the next milestone.

The other obstacle I faced was travel. How would I continue to work out and eat healthy while I was away from home, especially when I was in another country? For this obstacle, I was surprised by the outpouring of good advice from everyone I asked regarding this challenge. I was clearly not the only one facing this dilemma. My lesson learned here was to share my fears and concerns because you may get more solutions than you ever expected.

Chelsea: I have always had issues with tight hamstrings and calf muscles, so running has never been the easiest for me. I am prone to shin splints and these tend to sideline me for quite some time. As I expected, I experienced a few bouts of the beginnings of shin splints and needed to step back and figure out a way to work through this obstacle. I did a lot of research and talked to friends about how they had overcome the problem of shin splints and then invested in compression sleeves for my shins as well as remembering to ice and stretch after every run. I also know that in building up my running, I can’t run more than 2-3 times a week to give my legs time to recover.

Staying Motivated
Chelsea & Becky on race day

Becky: I stayed motivated by reading blogs and magazines that were stories of people doing similar things or that had advice on how to accomplish my goal. It also helped to talk about what I was doing.

Chelsea: I read a lot of healthy living and fitness blogs and reading through other people’s goals, struggles and successes really helped to motivate me and inspire me to continue on my journey. I also kept a log of all my workouts to see how I was progressing towards my goal.

For our weight loss, we stayed motivated by sharing recipes, trying new things, cooking some of our meals together. We were also having a 15 week Biggest Loser competition in the office and that ignited both of our competitive spirits.

Who Helped?

We leaned a lot on each other in this process. If one of us was going to give up, the other would have too. This put the pressure on to keep going because suddenly we were responsible for more than our own success, we were responsible for the success of the other.

Becky: For me I also started taking classes at FitOne Studio. I signed up for their circuit training class to improve my overall strength and knew that having a trainer run those classes would help motivate me and encourage me to push myself.

Chelsea: Since I struggle with getting shin splints from running, I knew that cross-training was going to be extremely important in building my running base. I found that wearing compression sleeves on my calves was so instrumental to my recovery during and after a run. Since I consider myself a cyclist, I found that continuing my cycling workouts really helped improve my overall fitness.

TGIF – Celebrate!

Set a new one and registered for a 10k this fall! We also treated ourselves to some new clothes now that we are both over 25lbs lighter!

Chelsea, Right, and Becky, Left
Down 25 pounds!

Tell your friends what you are doing and find someone to keep you accountable. You will be surprised by the amount of support you receive. Also, celebrate the wins and small milestones during the journey.

What’s Next?
After our 10k to End Women’s Cancer in November, we have our sights set on a half marathon. Perhaps the Disney one in January. We will keep you posted!

Change Your Energy, Change Your World.

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By Jaime Willis

What is your energy level right now? How are you showing up at home, work, or school?

I just finished reading a great book called “Energy Leadership” by Bruce Schneider, where he discusses the impact of both low/negative energy and high/positive energy in our lives and relationships.

In Bruce’s book, he says that people have seven energy levels — the first two are negative energy levels, and the other five are positive energy levels. What was shocking about his research was that he found that 85% of people are living in Levels 1 or 2 energy!

Take a look at the levels below:

Level 1: Apathy. People at this level feel like a victim. Nothing is going right in their life, and there is nothing they can do about it. “I lose.”

Level 2: Anger. People at this level are in conflict. Everything is a battle, and they are determined to fight. “You lose.”

Level 3: Forgiveness. People at this level are able to take responsibility for their lives and begin to do the work they need to make their lives happier. “I win.”

Level 4: Compassion. People at this level are helpers. They want to make sure others are happy. “You win.”

Level 5: Peace. People at this level are not just helpers, they understand that both parties can “win” and set up interactions so “We both win.”

Level 6: Joy. People who can achieve level six look beyond the situation and can understand that each person is unique and that there are no challenges or problems, just opportunities. “Everyone always wins.”

Level 7: Absolute Passion. People who achieve this level of energy reach a state of transcendence where they are connected directly with their higher power. These people understand that there is not such thing as winning or losing, we just are. “Winning and losing are illusions.”

Think about a recent interaction you’ve had with someone that hasn’t gone as well as you would have liked. What energy level were you showing up as in that interaction? What energy level were they showing up as? How do you think the interaction would have been different if you brought a different Energy Level to the table?

My boss recently had a difficult meeting with a contractor we use at work. The contractor had been so upset by past interactions, they had resorted to hiring legal counsel. In this interaction, my boss didn’t show up at a Level 1 (Why do I have to deal with these people? I hate my job.) or a Level 2 (I am going to make them really pay for hiring those attorneys), he entered the meeting with a Level 5 energy (we can both win). He asked them to explain, in detail, what they were upset about.

As they explained, he realized that their interpretation of the situation was inaccurate. They believed that they were the underdogs and that they were being taken advantage of. What they didn’t know is that they were one of the top three contractors for the year. When my boss explained this to them, they were shocked! That information took them from a Level 1 energy (we’re victims) to a Level 2 (we want to fight to ‘win’ this).

When my boss informed them that their score for the year revealed them to not only be one of the top revenue contractors, but one of the top scored contractors, they were ecstatic. This shifted their energy from a Level 2 to a Level 3 immediately. Instead of my boss having a long, drawn-out, level 1 and 2 discussion with these folks, he was able to raise their energy out of negative and into positive and the rest of the meeting went exceptionally well.

How can you use this information to have better relationships and interactions today?

William Roger Willis 1929 – 2011

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-By Jaime Willis

“That man is a success –
who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who leaves the world better than he found it;
who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had.”

Jaime and Grandpa Willis, October 2010

My grandfather, William Roger Willis, known as Roger or “Gpa,” passed away yesterday, May 4, 2011 after a ten-year battle with cancer. I’d like to take a few minutes this morning to share a few things I learned from Gpa.
Never Stop Learning
One of my fondest memories is of “bellying up to the bar” in the kitchen late at night (Willis’ are a nocturnal clan), watching Jeopardy or the news, flipping through the paper, and enjoying a late night snack (popcorn, chips and salsa, or a bowl of ice cream being the favorites). Gpa had a drawer next to his assigned barstool filled with his reference materials. As we talked about this or that news item or Jeopardy clue, he’d pull out the atlas and point out the locations, ways to get there, and other pertinent facts. He was never afraid to learn something new, although he was incredibly skeptical about his grandkids ubiquitous use of technology in all its varieties. :)
Make the Best of Your Situation
Gpa and Mr. Finger
Gpa lost the tip of his left index finger in an industrial accident more than fifty years ago. The doctors decided to create a soft fleshy pad at the top of the remaining finger, which healed so perfectly, it looked like he was just born with a shortened phalange.
I loved that stubby finger — it totally captivated me as a kid. Gpa used the finger to his greatest advantage by drawing a little smiley face on the tip and talking to us kids and grandkids with the little finger.
I would sit next to Gpa at the kitchen counter, grab his hand, and pet his little finger hello or goodbye.
When You Look Good, You Feel Good, You Do Good
Gpa dressed to impress and rarely went anywhere without a suit jacket on. This ‘dress code’ permeated my childhood, as I did not realize that one could wear sweatpants out of the house until I got to college.
As I grew up, Gpa would chide me for not looking my best, letting me know that I’d “do a little better if I wore makeup” when I left the house. I don’t know if I fully subscribe to Gpa’s Dress Code, but I cannot deny that my day typically goes better when I dress nicely and take care in my appearance.
Stay Active
Gpa ran his own auto repair store for more than 30 years before retiring and then promptly starting a lawn-mowing business to “stay active.” He rode motorcycles his whole life and went to a weekly dance. It really wasn’t until the last months of his life that he stopped doing physical labor. He wasn’t always in the best shape or health, but it never stopped him from getting around and getting stuff done.
Lend a Helping Hand
My dad also runs an auto repair store (AutoTech Service in Ada, MI) — he forged his own path after managing Gpa’s second shop for a number of years. After Gpa retired, he was back in the “shop” several times a week helping my dad run parts, answer the phone, and kibitzing with customers. Just because he was retired didn’t mean he couldn’t help out, and so he did.
Gpa and Gma also boarded many of my cousins and I in their home anywhere from a few days to a few years, in the case of my younger brother. I know that accommodating teens and young adults was probably not always a barrel of laughs, but they were happy to do so. It wasn’t just a bed, either — I think we’ve all borrowed a car, a piece of furniture, or even clothes (in my dad’s case) from Gma and Gpa.
Gpa was also a very active member in Ambucs, a community organization that helped support kids with physical and mental disabilities.
In my last visit with Gpa two weeks ago and it was clear that he wasn’t doing well. He still greeted me with a big hug and tried to interact as best he could with the family in town for the Easter holiday. Late on Sunday evening, just before I left his house on my way back home, he became startlingly lucid. He sat up in his chair, began watching the news on television and demanded a bowl of popcorn. As my Gma and Aunt debated whether or not Gpa should have popcorn, Gpa chimed in on his behalf. “You’ll get me a bowl of popcorn,” he stated firmly, “or I’ll get it myself!” Then he went on to comment briefly on the news, just like always. I am so glad that I had a chance to save that one final memory of my Gpa.

Love you Gpa!

Success is a Journey

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-By Jaime Willis

“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is that I am not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might have me in nine categories. But if we get on a treadmill, two things: you’re getting off first or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.” –Will SmithWill Smith

Born in 1931 to sharecroppers, Carl was destined to fail. He was a southern black man with an 8th grade education growing up during America’s Jim Crow era, where his opportunities were constantly truncated by segregation.

He enlisted in the Navy and was relegated to the kitchen, where the only water he saw was washing dishes. Undaunted, Carl doggedly pursued his goal of becoming a Master Diver in the Navy. He was turned down for diving school more than once before being accepted. He almost dropped out of the school he worked so hard to get accepted into because he was belittled and harassed daily by those who didn’t want any “n—-r divers” in the Navy.

Once he graduated from the grueling diving program, he was faced with another serious set-back – passing the educational requirements for divers. He quickly failed his first attempt at “first class school” because he didn’t know the math and science necessary to pass. Brashear spent years studying before re-entering first class and graduating third in his class, when only 50% of his classmates graduated.

Tragedy struck shortly after he became a first class diver. In a salvage rescue operation three years after his graduation, Brashear was seriously injured. In his attempt to get fellow sailors out of harms way when a large crate broke away from the ship, Carl was hit by a flying pipe below the knee. The injury to his leg was so great, he spent two months fighting infection and gangrene. When doctors told him that rehabbing his leg would take two to three years and still would leave him with a shortened leg that would prevent active duty in the Navy, Brashear chose to get his leg amputated below the knee.

Carl chose to cut off his leg before giving up on his dream.

Carl then began his own training regimen to return to active duty. After hours and hours of sneaking out of the Naval hospital for practice dives and strength training, Carl signed his own transfer papers ordering him back to diving school. He spent the next year proving to the Navy that he was fit for active duty.

After becoming reinstated as the first amputee diver in Naval history, Carl turned down other promotions to focus on his goal of becoming a Master Diver, the highest position you can hold in the diving community. Twenty-two years after Carl Brashear joined the Navy, he became the first African American Master Diver in the Navy’s history.

Carl’s story, which you may recall from it’s adaptation in the Cuba Gooding, Jr. movie Men of Honor, is the perfect example of success. Carl was not the smartest guy in the Navy, nor the perfect physical specimen. Brashear was simply the guy that would not quit until he reached his goal. He failed and he failed a lot. Achieving his goal was more than two decades – TWO DECADES – in the making.

Carl understood the formula for success is not about talent and not about being perfect, but about never quitting.