Optimism: The Key Ingredient

I used to think I was never going to be able to do a pull-up. I couldn’t even imagine myself doing one. I would hang from a pull-up bar and try so hard to lift myself even one inch and I wouldn’t budge. If anyone was watching me, they were probably thinking, “what is she waiting for? Why is she just hanging there?” I laugh to myself when I think of this scenario.

About 5 months ago, I discovered a home-based fitness program called P90x, created by fitness guru Tony Horton. The program claimed it could help to increase your fitness levels in all areas and part of the program’s focus was pull-ups. It was even suggested that you purchase a pull-up bar before getting started. While I was interested in improving in many areas of fitness, I was especially excited about the latter and decided to give it a try. The program starts with a video titled, Chest and Back, which involved performing several push-ups and pull-ups. I was ready!

The time for my first pull-up came and I don’t know if I was expecting Tony Horton to send me some pull-up power through the television but as he was pumping out 15 plus pull-ups, I was still dangling from my pull-up bar and struggling to move at all. Naturally, I was frustrated and all of the negative thoughts started playing through my head:

“I will never be able to do this.”

“I can’t.”

“I am just not capable.”

Then Tony Horton said something that changed my whole mindset. Don’t say you can’t, say, “I currently struggle with.” Just changing my thought process to reflect, “I currently struggle with,” gave me a more optimistic outlook.

With each week, I did my best and instead of getting frustrated and saying, “I can’t do this,” or even giving up all together, I kept going and giving it my best. By the end of the program, I was able to perform one complete pull-up. This may seem like a small  accomplishment, but for me, it  was   HUGE!  

Why do I share this with you? Because no matter if you are working to achieve a goal that seems teeny-tiny or a much bigger goal like changing your life, believing that you can is the first, most important step to your success.

Our ability to achieve a goal relies heavily on whether or not we believe we can and on our determination that we will.

I love this quote from the famous Star Wars character, Yoda, “Do or do not. There is no try.” “Try” is just an attempt at something without being 100% committed. To give it to you straight, if you are going to “try” something and not give of yourself completely, you might as well not do it at all. The people who believe they can do something are the one’s who commit themselves so fully that they can’t help but succeed. Does that mean just because you have an optimistic attitude this guarantees success? Of course not. However, it is a very important ingredient and I guarantee even those with an optimistic attitude who fail will learn from their failures and will find success elsewhere.

How do you change your belief system so you know you can do whatever you set your mind too? Set your goal and then create several smaller, doable goals that you can begin to see immediate results from. For example, let’s say you want to reduce or eliminate drinking coffee from your diet. While some people may be able to stop cold turkey, most of us would need to take small, gradual steps to meet this goal.

You could set easy, doable goals that look like this.

  • For the first week, switch to drinking half caffeinated/half decaffeinated coffee.
  • Second week, replace one cup of coffee with naturally decaffeinated herbal tea while continuing to drink half caff coffee the rest of time.
  • Third week, increase water intake to 64 ounces a day to help crowd out the need for coffee.
  • By week four, you should have severely reduced or completely eliminated coffee all together.

If you set smaller, simpler goals that you can easily accomplish over a period of time you will soon be able to envision yourself reaching the larger goal and you will feel differently about your ability to succed. Just remember to take Yoda’s advice and simply decide to “do” and you’ll be amazed at the results.

P.S. I can now complete 3 pull-ups. My goal over the next 4 months is to increase this to 10 pull-ups. Whether I reach the goal in the time-frame or not is irrelevant because I know one day, I will do this!

To your (insert   goal here) success! 


Randi's passion is to teach people the importance of getting into the kitchen to cook! When people get into the kitchen to cook, they can control their health and their waistline. She uses fresh ingredients and traditional foods in her cooking like butter.  She is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, exercise enthusiast and rep for Young Living Essential Oils (providing natural solutions for your health).

11 thoughts on “Optimism: The Key Ingredient

  1. One thing I have learned, the hard way is this:
    hard work WILL get you somewhere. You do improve, you get more fit and feel better and things get easier if you JUST STICK WITH IT!! So many times people cannot have enough foresight to realize that they will improve and give up frustrated because results aren’t coming as quickly as they want. Results DO COME! You must be patient, work hard and focus on the end result!! Stay the course. Expect the best. 🙂

    1. Cat, you are so right! Amen sister! I even have to remind myself of this and that I need to be positive while working hard! Both hard work and a positive attitude bring great success!

  2. Congrates on your Pull ups and general very positive attitude. The words ‘I can’t’ come to haunt me now and again. I find if I say “I am struggling with”- that stills feels negative to me. So now I say “I am working on learning ……” I am finding this is helping me to move past the negative. Thanks for encouraging post

  3. Great post, Randi! I have to give myself the positive, “You can do this”, “it’s as light as a feather” talk when I have to put the heavy window covering up on the side of the chicken house. That positive self-talk works like a charm!

  4. I’m impressed Randi, congrats on those pullups! You painted a very good picture with your story in this post. I learn best from stories that implant permanent pictures in my mind. This one did just that. Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Woo-Hoo! You have the right mindset that so many people lose sight of along the way to success in anything. You either do something or you don’t – Yoda is so wise!! The decision is made from the beginning whether you realize it or not. Everyone’s time frame, learning curve, and determination will be different, but when you set your mind on something, you can achieve it if you JUST DON’T QUIT! Let us know when you hit your goal of 10. I have a feeling it will come sooner than you think!! 🙂

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