7 Lessons Learned in 2013

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Motivation

LessonsLearnedHere are some lessons I learned in 2013.

Some were brand new revelations while others were just strongly reinforced over the last twelve months.

I hope you find at least a tidbit or two you can take away from the following list that will make your 2014 your best year ever.

1) Always Show Gratitude

In 2013 I made it a habit to show gratitude in a multitude of ways on a daily basis.

Firstly, I started keeping a gratitude journal (thanks to my good friend, Craig Ballantyne for the inspiration).

Each day I write down the things and people that I am grateful for. It’s usually small stuff like the fact that the sun was shining and I had a nice 20-minute, head-clearing walk on the beach.

Or it could be a great conversation with a stranger in line at the grocery store, the fact that someone trusts me enough to ask for advice, a nice Tweet I got from someone or the fact that “momma cooked a breakfast with no hog.” (If you get that line I’m giving you a cyber hug right this very second.)

It doesn’t have to be all job promotions and new PR’s at the gym.

When you learn to appreciate the small things and the great people in your life it’s a lot harder to get down or depressed about anything. There are plenty of people who have it a lot worse.

I also make it a habit to reach out to people via hand written letters, texts, phone calls and smoke signals to let them know how grateful I am to have them in my life.

There are no words to describe how impactful this practice can be.

2) Live a Life of Service

Zig Ziglar said “You can have everything you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”

It’s perfectly normal to focus on your own needs. Most of us want more money, more sex, better relationships and more fun in our lives. So we constantly work towards that end.

But something interesting happens when you shift your focus. When you think more about how you can help your friends, colleagues, customers, fans and less fortunate people in the world, suddenly you start to get all the things you want.

You may also discover that what you want is different than what you thought it was.

The more you help others the better your life gets.

3) It’s All About the Relationships You Make

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 9.56.17 AMAs a kid I could sit alone in my room with my superhero action figures and be perfectly content for hours. As an adult I can do the same with a book or my guitar.

I like chillin at home.

But that’s not how memories are made and friendships developed.

So, in 2013 I made it a point to attend more events and go out to lunch and dinner with friends every single week of the year. And as a result I formed some incredible relationships that have been life changing.

If I accomplished nothing else over the past twelve months, developing great friendships with the following six people would have been more than enough for me to say 2013 was a rousing success:

•    John Hennigan aka John Morrison
•    Jay Jablonski
•    Gary Goldstein
•    Allison Hagendorf
•    Dr. Mark Cheng
•    Ben Bruno

If you guys are reading this I thank you for being a part of my life.

4) Yes, Jay, You Do Have the Time

Everybody wants to acquire a new skill, take up a new sport, learn a language or an instrument, but nobody “has the time.”

I told myself that same lie for years.

Then I woke up and realized what nonsense it was. Of course I have the time. I was just choosing not to make the time.

Instead, I was wasting hours each week on busy work and trivial nonsense that wouldn’t make any difference or enhance the quality of my life in any way whatsoever.

The funny thing is that having more on your schedule actually forces you to be MORE productive and therefore you get more done.

That’s because there’s no time to waste.

Too much free time is a bad thing. I always do my best to avoid it.

5) Ruthless Time Management

ruthlessSo how do you actually become more productive AND simultaneously learn new skills and take up new hobbies?

You have to be as ruthless as MC Ren when it comes to time management. I like using timers and adhering to a fairly strict schedule.

If you were the CEO of a company you wouldn’t just fly by the seat of your pants every day. You’d have a schedule and a plan.

You would write down your meetings on some kind of planner, not just leave them to chance and hope you remember them.

Well, you’re the CEO of You Inc. when your work day is done. You’re in full control.

If something is important to you, like learning the guitar or painting, you will schedule it in each week. Write it down or put it on your phone calendar app thingy.

Then block off specific time frames (and actually use timers) during which you will practice that skill completely free of all distractions like computers, cell phones, TV’s and other humans.

It’s simple but it works.

6) Don’t Make Too Many Changes at Once

You get all gung ho and you break your bad habits and adopt a bunch of good ones. Life is great. Then what happens? You fall off the wagon and are back to your old ways before you know it.

You’re checking Facebook too much like you said you wouldn’t. You’re eating sugar again. You stopped reading and practicing your new skills as much. You’re back to square one.

Been there, done that several times.

It’s a classic mistake that everyone makes. Instead of trying to change everything about yourself or your fitness routine or your daily schedule, try changing one thing.

Focus on nothing else but that one thing for thirty days. Make it a habit, and then look to change something else.

Form one new habit at a time or you’re destined to fail.

7) Constant Reinforcement is Required

No matter how many great changes you make there’s always the temptation to slip. No one’s perfect. It’s a lot easier to be Clark Kent than it is to be Superman.

That’s why you have to constantly reinforce good behavior.

I highlight every book I read like a madman. If the book was particularly impactful I type up the ten most important lessons learned from the book and laminate them on nice paper.

I then add that sheet to my collection and I review 1-3 of them every morning to remind myself of the habits I want to keep and the behaviors I must practice in order to be successful.

Others I know do this on notecards. Both systems work. And both keep you on the path you want to be on and prevent you from slipping.

I urge you to try it.

Another way to constantly reinforce positive habits is to always surround yourself with people who are where you’d like to be or are doing what you’d like to be doing.

I’m lucky enough to have numerous friends who motivate and elevate me, friends who are constantly doing awe-inspiring things. Sometimes when we’re at dinner I start to twitch while listening to them speak and actually want to get up and run out the door.

That’s because they get me so fired up to be better in every way, so I want to leave my steak behind and go take immediate action.

The people you surround yourself with are the greatest positive reinforcements you can find.


What lessons did you learn this year that made a big difference in your life? I’d love to read them in the comments section below.

34 Responses to 7 Lessons Learned in 2013

  1. Koosh December 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Nice recap. Keep practicing that guitar. Happy 2014

  2. Dane December 30, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    I’ve been following Jason’s blog for 6 years, and this is my first comment.There were a lot of amazing posts throughout the years …but this one is just so…. I am speechless, I rareeely react this way,yet I had to leave a comment (for the first time). Thank you Jay, for all the years, you stand out head and shoulders above the rest in this fitness online industry with your unique straight and no BS personal approach.

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:34 am #

      Thanks Koosh. Indeed, I will. Same to you.

  3. Oli martin December 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm #

    Great post. Deeper than just training but applying the same rules to life as a lot of us do to our workouts will benefit a lot of us more than people realise. I read your blog for posts like this. I’ve trained for years and like how you give an approach on life and not just lifting. I used to think I had no time. It’s bullshit. I always had time for an hour of Facebook. Hope 2014 is a good one. Please keep up the regular posts. Oli from England

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Thanks a lot, Oli. I appreciate it.

  4. Antonio December 30, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    I just started following your blog. I plan to use some of the lessons noted above in the coming year as they have seemed to work for you. I look forward to reading your blog. Oh and the rapper is Ice Cube and the song was “Good Day”.

  5. glen chaytor December 30, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    i found you thru our mutual friend rob king a year and half ago.in the last year,thru following the renegade training and using the intermittent fasting from nate miyaki i am stronger,faster,and in the best condition of my life.training at heavyweights in newfoundland,getting level 1 certification under martin rooney,training with julia ladewski,and also training under several canadian olympic lifting coaches has made 2013 a most memorable year…thank you jason…

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:36 am #

      That’s great to hear. All the best in 2014.

  6. Dan December 31, 2013 at 8:05 am #


    #1 lesson I learned was injury prevention.
    I never payed attention to that stuff because I never got hurt.
    I’m getting older and more banged up.
    Physical therapy sucks and I now know what I have to do to stay healthy.
    Tedious stuff but it’s gotta be done.
    Nothings worse than being injured.

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:37 am #

      I hear ya. No one cares about injuries until they get hurt. Been there myself.

  7. Jacob December 31, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Awesome article Jay! Thanks for another great inspiring post, looking forward to joining the Renegade Inner Circle soon and I will have to try some of these tips(one at a time perhaps) this coming new year! Happy New Year!

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Thanks Jacob. We look forward to having you.

  8. Kathy Benson December 31, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Thanks for sharing your revelations. Service really does transform your life and perspective.

  9. Wael December 31, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Great Lessons Jason….I particularly agree with appreciating the small things in life.. for me that’s what makes one satisfied, happy and ready to tackle all challenges…..happy new year to all

  10. Matt December 31, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    “I got my grub on, but didn’t pig out, finally got a call from a girl I wanna dig out!” -Classic Cube!
    Great posts all year long my man. Biggest lesson that has worked for me is to stop second guessing my training. I would be on a great training routine and then read an article somewhere that contradicts what I am doing and I completely change my program. Life is too short to second guess and stress about the small sh!t! Keep doing your thing brotha and here is to a great 2014!

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:39 am #

      Haha. Good shit, Matt.

      Yeah, that’s what the majority of people do. It’s very hard to avoid but if you can your results will be 1000x better.

  11. Brandon Richey December 31, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    Once again a solid list Jason. I liked the whole list, but I focused in on #2 because I firmly believe that if everyone helped someone then everyone would be better off, period. Plain and simple life would be better for everybody. Sounds obvious, yet it seems many of us forget about being of service to others. I try to remind myself of it everyday. Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year to you and your family.

  12. Kevin Valluzzi December 31, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Great stuff as always, holmes! MC Ren is the muthafucking coroner…I’m gettin rid of mutha fuckas as if they was a foreigner

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      KV! Glad to see you dropping back in, my friend.

      • Kevin Valluzzi January 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

        Thanks brother. I’ve just been hammering away at reading, marketing, etc. Trying to build my business up. I’m still livin’ the lifestyle though. Just haven’t been on the IC in a little bit. Tryng to stop the ‘majoring in minutiae’ thing, ya know?


  13. Bill December 31, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    Great article Jason
    I learnt that:
    If an exercise gives you no result then move on to another one; don’t change to another exercise too quickly; the neck is very important to exercise; the wife must give her consent.

    • John B January 2, 2014 at 9:14 pm #

      Ya your first lesson about getting no result from one, move to another… ya i finally figured that one out too. Where was this last year buddy! =p

  14. Rudi Verhoeven January 1, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    Hey Jason,

    Only bought the “renegade diet” and stuck to it. (for I’m into
    calithenics and not so much in mass building).
    At the age of 48 I’ got more ripped and muscular than ever!!
    You definitly know your stuff and I love this post.
    Thanks man!

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:40 am #

      That’s fantastic. Congrats on your results

  15. Chloe Baker January 2, 2014 at 6:39 am #

    Excellent advice there! Those are all very important points to understand when approaching the year 2014! I agree with you, everybody has the time. Most of us just make it out like we’re so busy and we have no time because we’re lazy and don’t want to do anything else. We all have the time!

    ‘you’re the CEO of You Inc.’ – Not a wiser phrase was said in 2013!

    Happy New Year!

  16. Christopher January 2, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    Hey Jay, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve visited your blog. I’m glad that your still coming out with the positive outlooks on life and getting people to look at the bigger picture. Thanks and happy new year brother!

    • Jason Ferruggia January 3, 2014 at 11:41 am #

      Thanks, Christopher. Glad to have you back.

  17. Jaime January 2, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    I love your outlook, focusing on the person as a whole and not just the gymrat side of us all! My best lesson this year was to stop making things harder than they have to be. Sometimes the answer is simple, learn to trust instincts.

    Happy 2014!

  18. Richard Haynes January 9, 2014 at 1:59 am #

    Great information and a reminder for all that we make the time for what is important to us in our lives. Also, the “constant reinforcement” paragraph is something that is needed every day. Our motivation and attitudes can vary from day to day if we do not keep our goals and dreams in front of us and review them.

    • Jason Ferruggia January 11, 2014 at 8:50 am #

      Thanks for the comment, Richard.

  19. Rob January 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

    This is a beautiful post. It’s a powerful reminder to think and act in a way that adds meaning and value to your own life and those around you. Thanks for sharing..

  20. Humayun January 19, 2014 at 3:00 am #

    Can you please please please with a rap album on top post the story of John Hennigan A.K.A John Morrison A.K.A The Shaman Of sexy A.K.A The Guru of Greatness?!