One of my favorite mentors is a health and wellness professional by the name of Paul Chek. One of Paul’s biggest teachings is being able to live your dream and with it living to be the best version of yourself.
This means findings that special passion that drives you to wake up each morning. It also means figuring out how you want to live your life. How do I become the most ideal version of myself? This comes from a business and career standpoint of course but also comes down to family and friends. How do you treat others directly around you? What are your influences on your community? How do you act in difficult times? Can you control your emotions to act as you see most appropriate in times of anger, fear, anxiety and sadness? How much time do you devote to work, friends, family? Are my actions in line with my morals? Do I feel that each day I’m moving closer to being the person I wish to be? Ultimately, when I’m on my death bed, will I feel that I’ve lived a life filled with the most important aspects that life has to offer? Big questions, but important to address.
I’m a big fan of having goals in life and constantly re-assessing to see if you’re moving in the right direction. 2017 was a big year with a lot of positive moments (and negative ones), big accomplishments, lessons learned. Looking back on this year is a great opportunity to reflect on these questions. After some soul searching here are some of the biggest changes I’ve made throughout 2017.
At the end of 2016 I moved back to the East Coast of the US to be closer to family, old friends and work at Champion PT and performance. The past 3 years of my life have been an amazing experience but with such effort towards building my career I’ve really let other fruitful aspects of my life slip. Working full time as a therapist, part-time as a coach, maintaining a website and blog full-time, creating online products, writing online programming, working and traveling for another company (power monkey) and trying to compete in a sport (Crossfit) is a lot to put on your plate. I can’t believe the amount of learning and progress I made over those past 3 years but it came at a cost. I also found myself feeling lonely, depressed and incredibly stressed out for the first time in my life. I was getting some weird hearth arrhythmia. Basically I wasn’t being healthy and my body was revolting. I was also being incredibly selfish devoting so much time to myself.
It was a valuable lesson.
In 2017 I switched focus more on family and friends. I stopped coaching and writing programming. I changed my work schedule to see fewer patients. I said “yes” more often to social engagements. I said “no” more to professional opportunities. I made more time to hang out with my wife. I allowed myself to form new friendships. In the past these would be times mostly spent in my career, my website and my learning. Either that or I’d take time away from sleep or much needed down time usually reserved for mental and physical health. These changes have allowed me to restore some joy and happiness in my life and undoubtedly improved my physical and mental health.
Starting fitnesspainfree.com was originally done because of a love of fitness and rehabilitation. That’s why I got into fitness in the first place. To me, sharing these topics is my way of spreading my love to the world. Recognizing this was a way for me to find satisfaction in my work. When I’m writing, treating or training I’m sharing love. When I’m communicating with others about my passion I’m sharing my love. Sharing this information is my way of leaving this world a bit better of a place then when I started. Changing my mindset and understanding this concept has also allowed me to find more joy in my work activities and given me a greater sense of purpose for continuing.
2017 was a big year for Fitness Pain Free. One of the biggest changes was the amount of money invested into my company. Unfortunately growing a business also means not being afraid to invest resources into the company. This was a growth year for me. I’ve invested in more software like infusionsoft, kajabi and zapier. These products allow me to help deliver a better product and experience for readers and customers. I’ve also spent a lot of time learning about and implementing systems like funnel building and facebook ads. This has been both tremendously frustrating and rewarding at the same time.
None of this would have been possible without the professional mentorship and collaboration with some of the smartest and hardest working professionals in the community. One of my biggest goals moving to Champion PT and performance was to get some mentoring for my online business. Mike Reinold has been one of the best mentors I could ever ask for from the perspective of building a business online. He’s a pioneer in this regard and has forged the path to success online. He’s been a vital resource for me and has patiently guided me along. This says a lot about his character given just how busy the man is.
I’ve also had the privilege of working with other amazing rehab professionals like Ryan Debell and Dave Tilley. Dave Tilley is easily one of the most devoted and hard working physical therapists I’ve ever met. Working with him was a no brainer and has allowed us to spread our message to the world and help others in ways we never would have been able to without each other’s help. I can also say the same thing about Ryan Debell. Ryan has one of the biggest visions I’ve seen from any rehab professional. His laser focus on achieving big goals in a systematic fashion has positively influenced me in a variety of ways. It’s been a huge source of motivation and guidance working with Ryan and we’ve been able to do some cool things together in 2017. I’m incredibly grateful to have these people as co-workers and more importantly, friends.
Working at Champion PT and performance is a game changer. I’m regularly surrounded by smart, driven and passionate people. I can’t begin to describe how influential everyone has been to my own development as a professional. I recommended everyone try and find a location where they can be part of such a team.
In terms of continuing education I’ve been attempting to regularly read research journals such as JOSPT, BJSM and IJSPT. As usual I also tend to do a lot of continuing education for the patients I’m currently seeing (i.e. watching a medbridge course or doing a literature search for cervicogenic headaches when I have a patient that presents with this). I also have been doing a lot more research specific to the most common issues I see. Since I tend to see more fitness related injuries I can afford to spend more time learning about these pathologies and best practices for treatment.
Since Champion is an out of network provider we aren’t chained to what insurance companies feel we need to perform (and shouldn’t perform). This has really afforded me the luxury of incorporating more fitness into my patient care, seeing my patients for longer (or shorter) periods of time, incorporating more program design and intermittent visits into my treatment and fitness plans. I honestly feel like I’m able to treat exactly as I see best for the patient and not be encumbered by pressure from insurance companies.
Having fewer patients and more time with patients has really allowed me more time to master a lot of my manual skills. Where I was rushed before I can now spend the extra time to give the manual care needed and fine tune my skills further. Having this extra time has also allowed me to be better about applying exercise progressions accurately and advancing them to help patients get back to the activities they enjoy.
Perhaps one of the largest areas of focus this year was personal growth. As I mentioned earlier, part of my transition to Champion PT and performance was being able to attend to some of my other needs in life and not just be hell bent on my career. Because of this I’ve been able to spend more time on activities that bring me joy in life. With the reduced pressure of too many responsibilities the professional activities that were causing me to burn out are now in a dosage that provides a deep sense of accomplishment, pride and gratitude.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time with regular reflection, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy and practicing emotional intelligence. In this way I can continue to ensure that my daily actions are in line with my morals and if they aren’t, I can do something about it. I see this as exercise for the brain and the soul. As exercise professionals we get so caught up in things like exercise, nutrition and sleep that sometimes we forget all about our mental health. This needs regular attention just like anything else. I also feel like working on these factors has allowed me to connect better with people having more empathy and insight into individual patient needs. It’s been a great experience.
I know this may seem a bit woo woo but 2017 was a big year of love for me. To me love is your expression of your special passions and talent in life. To me therapy, fitness and wellness is my way of spreading my love to the world. Creating deep connections with people through this has been a tremendous source of positivity for me and a source of energy to continue pushing my love.
Delving into my psychology has shown me that one of the reasons why I push so hard professionally (and with sports, business etc.) is because I have a deep sense of inadequacy. This way of thinking (constantly comparing yourself to others and not feeling like you’re good enough) can also be very detrimental to your health. I honestly feel this is a major reason why so many great people have attained such a high level of success. I’m guessing it can also really be hurtful from an emotional perspective. I’ve been practicing more gratitude and acceptance of myself for my successes and maybe more importantly failures. I think this has gone a long way in improving my mental health and leading me toward better behaviors in the long run.
So that’s it! I went pretty deep into the successes, failures and areas of growth for 2017. I recommend you all do the same and keep plugging away toward your passions in life. Now onto 2018!
Dan Pope DPT, OCS, CSCS, CF L1
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