17 “Jewels of Wisdom” from 2017


At end of each workshop or training seminar, I ask participants to take a few moments to write down 2-3 ideas or points made during the session that they feel are significant to their understanding and application of the topic and concepts covered. I refer to these as “jewels of wisdom”, and at the conclusion of a workshop series or seminar, I collect the individual lists and prepare a document containing all of the jewels of wisdom that is then shared with the entire group of participants. I am often fascinated as I read through the individual lists of jewels, noticing those which are both commonly identified as well as those that are unique.

This exercise is not only useful for me, as a coach, to ensure that participants pick up on important concepts and ideas, but I also feel it is useful for participants to see what they and others found particularly useful or relevant to their understanding. Many times, when participants share a single jewel at the end of a session, I observe many heads nodding in agreement.

I like to spend a little time at the end of each year reflecting on what I’ve learned from the highs, the lows, and the in-betweens, as well as how I might use what I’ve learned to make changes or set goals for the upcoming year. Sometimes I do this reflection in writing on paper, and other times it happens at various times of the day during walks with Hurricane, while driving, or while sitting in a quiet space and just noticing my thoughts.

In lieu of a lengthy, end-of-year blog post, I decided to compile a list of 17 of my personal “jewels of wisdom” from the past year, some accompanied by visual memories, that will guide me as I move into 2018.

1. Duluth is HOME. No matter where life takes me, I believe Duluth, MN, has become my home base and will be a place I always carry in my heart when I am away.

(note: Find the notecards from the image in the upper-left at PontoMountainPaper)

2. I crave the “magical” soothing feelings that I experience each time my eyes catch a glimpse of the Ariel Lift Bridge (check out the live cam!) and Lake Superior. When I returned to Duluth at the end of the summer, I visited the Lake before I drove up the hill to my home. Hurricane and I both enjoy taking time to soak up the beautiful views along the Lakewalk.

3. Self-awareness of inner experiences and clarification of personal values are critical first steps for sustainable behavior change and wellbeing. Learning to notice with curiosity versus judgment and evaluation is key.

4. Being authentically me and choosing to act in a way that is aligned with my values isn’t always the easy choice, but it’s always worth it and usually involves sharing my “goofy” side with others.

5. Writing and speaking about behavioral science in a user-friendly way for the general public is challenging for me, but I find value in practicing my craft and look forward to continuing to disseminate behavioral science through blog posts, casual conversation, and speaking events.

6. Forgiveness is complex and difficult, especially when it involves making the choice to forgive someone who is unlikely to ever apologize or acknowledge their fault within the context of the situation. Learning the importance of forgiveness for my own wellbeing makes the journey toward forgiveness a worthwhile endeavor.

7. I embrace opportunities, adventures, and new experiences that allow me to dip my toes out of my comfort zone without completely moving outside of my self-care zone.

8. I like to wander and explore with only a very loose “plan” when I travel.

9. I prefer to be up and moving versus sitting or standing still (unless I’m in yoga or enjoying a quiet moment in nature).

10. Developing, forming, and maintaining friendships as an adult takes creativity and effort, especially when lifestyles change and time zones and distance are factors that impact the ability to engage in meaningful interactions…but, technology that allows for face-to-face communication has come far to help with this.

11. The core of many of my own struggles is not that different from those of others. No human is exempt from feelings of self-doubt or discomfort, but we can feel discomfort AND do what's important.

12. Physical fitness challenges my mind just as much, and many times, even more than it challenges my body. The pursuit of a variety of fitness-related goals over recent years has led to many opportunities for self-discovery and has forced me to face some of my innermost struggles related to health and wellbeing. For this reason alone, physical fitness will remain a priority in my life.

13. We think we know who we are, but how much of what we think and how we perceive the world we live in and ourselves has been learned and shaped by society.

14. People cross our path for a reason, and sometimes that reason isn’t clear until you’ve parted and gone your separate ways.

“Some people are dotted lines and other people are destinations. Some people get you somewhere and some people are just a place to be, all in themselves. But you cannot force those dotted lines into destinations.” ~ Hannah Brenche

15. I am a creature of habit, and I love my color-coded calendar and planner, but I have learned that improving my psychological flexibility has enabled me to be more resilient and to keep moving forward when things don’t go as planned and “life happens.”

16. Experiencing a real “click” with someone still exists, and while I often talk about and stress the importance of sleep, losing sleep due to many late night conversations as a new relationship begins to unfold is completely worth it.

17. I am passionate about sharing behavioral science with others, whether through my work as a college professor or as a performance psychology and lifestyle change coach.

Geez, that list was both easier and more difficult than I expected! At first, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to list 17 jewels of wisdom, but I soon found myself trying to decide which to share and which would remain off the typewritten page (at least for now!). I also noticed how each of these jewels prompted additional thoughts that I am eager to explore more through journal writing as I prepare to turn the page and set my intentions for 2018.

Whether you opt to take some time to reflect on the past year or not is entirely up to you. Some people find reflection enjoyable and helpful as a learning tool to move in a more values-aligned direction. That’s great, and I’d love to hear about your own jewels of wisdom in the comments below or via email!

Others might tend to avoid reflection because it is sometimes associated with negative self-talk, rumination, and uncomfortable thoughts. I use a coaching approach that teaches individuals to slow down and pause in order create space for this internal discomfort, to remind themselves about what is important to them, and to use skills that allow them to commit to acting in a way that is aligned with self-guided values even when discomfort shows up.

If you’re looking to make some small tweaks or a big change in 2018, I’d love to help guide you as you take the steps necessary to move in the direction of what’s important to you. Contact me today, and let’s make it happen!

Here’s to living a happy, healthy, values-aligned life in 2018!!


Did you know? As a performance psychology coach trained in behavioral science, I help people create supportive environments in which they live, work, and play. I also help people become more aware of their internal experiences (thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges) and how these experiences influence the moment-to-moment choices they make.

2018 is going to be an exciting year as I continue to pursue my goal to use behavioral science to make an impact in the area of health, sports, and fitness. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work in collaboration with the coaches of Elite Athlete Development!