The tools we use to motivate ourselves are not always individual. After sharing my own, I wanted to share others. I set out to talk to some of my motivated friends and see what carried them where they are. That’s how I found myself talking to Dan Conaghan, a personal trainer managing his own business.
Our conversation took place in Dan’s domain, the gym. In a space where I often freeze like a deer in headlights, overwhelmed by my own insecurities, Dan’s confidence is able to make me feel comfortable. It is almost like having a chat over coffee, except it’s weights, and he will make you pick them up. In between the ringing of weights hitting the floor, guiding me through a set of dead lifts, and working on his own, Dan tells me how he came to be where he is.
The tattooed gentleman, who is usually in gym shorts, started off as an elementary teacher. Life has a strange way of putting you on an unexpected path, and Dan found himself laid off due to brutal budget cuts. From unemployment he ended up tree cutting. As his life had settled with a routine at work he had also been building his routine in the gym. And as he stood in the gym one day, a light bulb began to flicker above his head. He was watching trainers at their job, people who were able to spend all day in a place he loved, the gym. It flickered a little brighter. He was watching trainers helping people learn how to work out. They worked in a gym, and they taught people. And the switch clicked. Trainers were people who worked at a place he loved, doing something he absolutely loved, teaching. With that realization he knew exactly what he wanted.
As always there were people who doubted, and Dan often heard the question “but when are you going to get a real job?” With their doubt he pushed farther, determined to prove them wrong. He passed his test. He became a personal trainer, and he didn’t stop there. In life there are moments when you have to take a leap of faith. Conaghan was training people at four in the morning, working for nine hours, training clients in the evening, and then passing out. He was pouring every ounce of himself into living a financially acceptable life while chasing after his goals. Except there is always a point when you have to let go of everything and dive right into what you want. Dan quit his job at the tree cutting business. Life did not catch him. Not right away at least. Dan struggled financially. He knew that he needed to work for himself and not a company. There he met one of the hardest years of his life. Discovering that renting a space was astronomically priced, he couldn’t move forward. Still, he persevered. A year after hitting his wall, he came back to it again and climbed over it. This time Dan found the opportunity he had been waiting for. Someone desperate to get a gym off of her hands, and Dan more than willing to take it.
It’s two years later, and Dan is the proud manager of his personal training business. He is able to price people at rates that are more comfortable for his clients, while still being able to live. With his personal momentum he continues to move forward, working to make fitness and healthier life styles more accessible to everyone. All the while still pushing himself mentally and physically to greater lengths.
One of Dan’s beliefs in life is related to my last post Making Excellence Routine, and it was great to see that simple but powerful idea in someone successful. His way of saying it, a gym man through and through, if you want something you have to put in the reps. Reps, for those of you who are not gym savvy are repetitions of a set of exercises. “You want to write a book? Put in your reps. Do it consistently. It’s not about getting it done in one fell swoop.” He said the words and I couldn’t agree more. Dan has been a personal trainer for six years and his own boss for two. It took him years before he was able to achieve his goals. Years of consistently working towards more. From becoming certified, to learning how to sell himself, to taking the leap to make it on his own he had to put in the reps to build the life he wanted.
Our conversation inspired me with the idea that life really is not just taking a leap of faith. It isn’t a movie or a book. Life is more like carefully managing crevasses, climbing rock walls, jumping off a cliff, and then hiking to the next. Seeing someone who like myself had to struggle to find their own way, then work for what he has now with temerity, and who continues to find new ways to grow reminded me that there are no epic accomplishments ended with a curtain closing. There is only taking on as much of the journey as we can and pushing ourselves to be greater because it’s what we’re made for.
What is his secret to keep moving forward? Along with other brilliant habits, Dan introduced me to what I think will be my new favorite.
For maintaining daily motivation, Dan has a strong belief that lead to a great daily ritual. He believes that to achieve greatness, you should surround yourself with greatness. An adage many of us have heard, but Dan has his own interpretation. You do not necessarily need to surround yourself with great people, but great conversation. For Dan this means listening to his favorite podcast, allowing him to become inspired. Just getting a chance to discuss motivation and listening to someone talk about finding their passion was motivating. I have to agree with Dan, surround yourself with greatness.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Dan Conaghans life. If you did please feel free to check him out at his Instagram thefitferret_azoth! He is incredibly motivating and knowledgeable in fitness. Thank you Dan, for taking the time to have this conversation! It was a blast to write about.