GUEST POST BY COURTNEY RIOUX: The Importance of Personal Development

Since getting involved with personal development, I’ve learned it’s more effective to share thoughts and ideas coming from a place of service. (I used to prefer doing vents or rants.) Since it’s had such a positive impact on me and my confidence, I’ve been thinking of different ways to get others involved. Especially those pursuing a career in the arts. 

And then I thought, why not have one of the experts tell you themselves? 

I’m incredibly happy to have Courtney Rioux do a first ever guest post for TonyinChicago!

(For those who don’t know, I took Courtney’s “My Big Year” program last winter, which began my personal development journey. Since then, I’ve not only continued working on personal development, but I try to attend her workshops too! 


Hi Tony’s friends. 

[Guys in the back are excited to hear from someone other than Tony.]

Tony asked me to share my thoughts with you on why personal development is so important.

Sometimes I ask people to set big goals, but if they don’t believe they are possible they won’t actually take the action needed to achieve said goals. They might even sabotage themselves to prove that they were right.  “See, I told you it wasn’t possible…”

Personal development gives you the confidence you need to know you have unlimited potential, and set bigger goals. Personal development gives you the belief that you are worth it. Personal development allows you to see things from a different perspective, which can change your whole life.  

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[The guys in the back are asking, “Why would I want to set bigger goals?”]

Well, if you set small goals, you won’t have to change your actions much to try to achieve those goals.

In the book, The 10X Rule, Grant Cardone says that everyone who is successful sets goals that are 10x bigger than most people’s goals.  If you set goals that are 10x bigger, your actions will have to change DRASTICALLY. Then you’ll have a much better chance of achieving the goals.

However, many of my clients tell me that they’re afraid to set 10x goals. They don’t believe that the 10x goal is possible.  They’re afraid if they set it. They’re afraid that if they don’t reach it, they’ll be disappointed or look like a failure.

Shawn Achor in Before Happiness says that you have to believe that your goals are at least 70% achievable. Personal development expands your capacity to believe in yourself, and your goals.  

They say the number one fear that people have is Public Speaking. I believe that the REAL underlying fear beneath the fear of speaking is that people think that they are NOT ENOUGH, and because they’re not enough, they won’t be loved.

Personal development teaches you that you are enough. It teaches you that you will be loved if you love.

[The guys in the back wonder if just reading this blog about personal development is enough.]

For me, I need constant reminders of these little lessons. I need constant reminders that I am enough. My ego tells me everyday that I am not enough, so I have to remind it everyday that I am. My ego, and society sometimes think that shaming and guilt are the answers, and I have to keep reminding myself that love actually works much better. Love for myself, love for others, and love for what I do.

Jim Rohn

[The guys in the back are embarrassed to admit they still don’t know what personal development is]

Oh that’s okay.  Personal development is any book, audio, seminar, or coaching that teaches you to see things differently, find a better way or even just teaching you how to do something.

Here’s some of my favorite personal development books/audio: 

I’ve also got a personal development webinar called My BIG Year on Thursday at 6pm central. You can find out more info or register here. Try to make it on live because I’ll be giving away free coaching, and other prizes. If you can’t make it live, register anyway because I’ll send out a recording.

My Big Year 

Personal development has helped my bank account, my career, my relationship with  family and my husband. It has helped me find happiness, and fulfillment in all areas of my life, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without it.

If you like this, please reach out and say hi via social media:  @courtneyrioux

Courtney Rioux is an actor and a certified life coach for Courtney Rioux Coaching. She enjoys working with actors, and other creative artists to help expand their belief in themselves, achieve their goals, and live happy & fulfilled lives.

She also teaches on-camera acting at The Green Room Studio in Chicago.



When Doing Things The Right Way Doesn’t Work

I’m happy to report I’ve been working more hours for one of my favorite people: Myself. It’s great. I get to work from home, in any room I want, set my own hours, and receive special attention from my boss.



Stole this from my boss’s facebook page. So embarrassing. 

 Right now the pay isn’t great – in fact, this month it’s been pretty mediocre. But things are looking up.

In order to take my projects more seriously, I’ve turned things up a notch: I set “business hours” for each project, work from my desk, and do everything to ensure that I’m using my time wisely. I even use an online timer. It feels like I’m actually punching in, and encourages a faster work approach. I cut myself off from facebook and texting until it’s time for a break. If I want some background noise, I stick to music or personal development audio. Admittedly, this is all still a work in progress. But an efficient system, nonetheless.

…except for days when it’s not.

Take yesterday for example. I wake up. I’m tired. I don’t feel like working. Probably shouldn’t have had that extra glass of wine the night before. Another excuse. And another. Getting anything done seems next to impossible.

After several attempts (and failures) to be productive, I tried something different: I worked from the living room.

I sat down on the couch. My posture was terrible (don’t tell my fellow beachbody coaches this). I put on sports radio. I turned off my timer.  I did all the things I wasn’t supposed to do. And it worked.

I didn’t get nearly as much done as I was supposed to. Not to mention, this system would never work on a regular basis. But for yesterday, I needed a different system.

Sometimes going about things the “right” way doesn’t work. When this happens, I like to try and do things the wrong way. This might mean going against the standard approach. But if the right way isn’t working, can it hurt to go about it with a different, opposite approach?

Not only did the couch trick work, but my groove of productivity put me in a better mood. I found myself frustrated each time I “failed” to be efficient. Being upset and negative doesn’t help. It encourages more resistance that keeps you away from doing your work.

My challenge to you: Think about an area or two that you’ve been struggling in. What’s a “wrong” approach you could take to try and tackle it? How can you work on this struggle without feeling frustrated or upset?


Dear guy-who-sits-in-the-corner at parties: Get up!

Today I want to discuss the concept of living in lack. A lot of us do this without even realizing.


Photo credit:

Living in lack means we’re focusing on what we don’t have. We often start wishing for something awesome because we know it will make us happy. While there’s nothing wrong with that, we don’t want to depend on this thing to keep us happy. Otherwise, we have to stay unhappy while we’re waiting for this thing…whatever it may be.

…I’ll stop saying “thing” and use a real example:

I used to go to parties hoping to meet someone. If I was feeling shy (which would happen 99% of the time), I’d just sit in the corner. I was hoping someone would come over to me, which was far easier than initiating a conversation. Here’s something you should know if you relate to guy-who-sits-in-the-corner: You’re going to be unhappy. Not just because you’re sitting in the corner at a party. (Seriously, why the corner? That’s like the least appealing part of the room.) You’re going to be unhappy because you’ll be in a state of lack. You’ll be craving friendship, companionship, and conversation. The corner doesn’t get you any of this. By focusing on what you don’t have, you’ll just be sad and unhappy and go home wondering why you had such a bad night.

I almost fell into a similar trap last weekend during the “Summer on Southport” festival.

Summer on Southport


For most of last weekend, I wasn’t a fan of this crowd. This will happens when you work weekends. But after my shift Sunday, it was no longer a school night. So I poured myself some wine and sat by my window with my roommate Eric. People in the crowd began noticing us. Sometimes they’d wave. We’d wave back. This became a big hit with a few people in particular. As the night continued, I realized I was less focused on the free concert that I could watch from my very own apartment. I was more focused on being one of the “window guys.” Also as the night continued, the crowd was focusing less on us and more on the band. (So not cool.) I started noticing I wasn’t enjoying myself and couldn’t figure out why.

I had unintentionally entered a state of lack. I was lacking the attention from the crowd, and I probably looked quite silly sitting on my window sill. So I stopped trying to get attention from others and enjoyed the rest of concert. I was in a much better mood after this.

Start paying attention to areas where you might be living in lack. It’s okay to want something awesome. Just make sure you’re happy without it.  🙂

Why you should embrace the challenge (even though the challenge usually sucks)

Thanks to a number of people (but starting with Courtney Rioux), I’ve gotten really into personal development. Hence why so many blogs of mine have themes like “You are beautiful” or “Here’s a list of your life problems,” or “100 reasons to buy Tony drinks this weekend.”

The cool part about doing lots of personal development is that you hear certain themes more than once. While this may seem redundant, it’s actually quite nice. Assuming it’s a cool and awesome theme. (We’re not talking about things like being told to refill coffees quicker.) Each time I hear a reoccurring theme, I tend to listen a little better. The most recent reoccurring theme I heard was failure.  

Influential people like Dallas Travers and Tony Hawk have said how important it is to embrace failure and challenges whenever they show up. I always thought, “Sure! Failure. I can handle that. Bring it on, failure!”

Wish you were better

Photo credit: Seriously? It says it in the picture. Keep reading!

Admittedly, it wasn’t long before I decided I didn’t like this game. I took a look at my past year and found lots of challenge areas that I was failing in. I didn’t like it. And they certainly didn’t seem to be doing me any good.

I was thinking about this theme again as I got ready for work this past weekend. I wasn’t in a great mood. After all, I was about to go refill coffees for the next eight hours. The more I thought about challenges and failure, the more frustrated I got. To put myself in a better mood before I left, I decided to do some quick personal development. I listened to an interview from SUCCESS on Demand (a fantastic investment, by the way) where Darren Hardy interviewed a woman named Ping Fu. And that’s when my day got better.

(Let’s be honest – your day is already off to a better start when you hear a name as awesome as “Ping Fu.”)

“I usually see whenever there’s a problem and there’s challenges, I feel excited. Because I would take it as my own life challenge to overcome it. And I know that when I come out to the other end, I’ll feel better.”

My problem was I kept seeing my failures as this pit that I couldn’t get out of. Now I realize that even though challenges suck, we become a much more awesome person once we overcome them. We just need to believe that we will overcome them. And that’s when we get to be awesome awesome.  

Who doesn’t like feeling awesome?

it will all work out

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What’s a challenge or failure that you’re going through right now? Do you believe you’re going to beat it?  

How to be healthier on vacation

If you’re friends with me on facebook, chances are you read lots of “I’m in New England and you’re not and everything smells like peaches” posts this week. Thanks for bearing with me!

Much like my last vacation, this was not a healthy one. As a skinny guy, I enjoy wearing tight clothing. And right now? Let’s just say I have some work to do before I wear my favorite skinny jeans in public again. Although, I didn’t do as bad this trip as I previously did. I was better with nutrition, squeezed in a few extra workouts, and only had one or two days I can look back at and think, “Really, Tony? Did you really need that extra piece of cake?”

Seriously. There was a lot of cake.

Wedding cake

Photo credit: Rachel Buck


Between this trip and my last one, I learned a few tricks to use when you’re away from your kitchen:

Limit your cheat meals: It’s incredibly easy to develop the mentality of “I’m on vacation so let’s have cake for all three meals.” If you have a fun night planned, there’s no need to avoid your favorite treats once you’re there. Instead, try going for salads and fruit while hanging out at the hotel beforehand. Earn those cheats!

Go easy with the alcohol. If you’re human, there’s a good chance you like to drink during vacation. I am not saying to drink less. That would be silly. What I’m suggesting is going with the lesser calorie drinks for most of the trip. Again, earn your way to those high calorie/carb drinks. My goal was to have vodka sodas over beer when I could. Then I made sure to have a beer or three when going to places that had specialty beers….like Beer Works.

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Because I hadn’t had their watermelon beer in two years, I may or may not have had another one of these at the airport.


Exercising. This one can be tough. A lot of us can’t stick with our usual workouts once we’re out of town. It’s also easy to fall victim to the thought, “I’m on vacation so let’s skip workouts and have cake for all three meals.” There’s two important things to consider: 1) Being on vacation doesn’t mean we have to skip workouts. We’re just using this as an excuse not to. Speaking of which…2) We tend to consume lots of extra calories on vacation. Doing a quick workout might not stop you from gaining weight, but you’ll certainly gain less. Also, exercising away from home makes it easier to get back in the grove once you’re back. Trust me, those workouts get tougher when you take a week off! (PS – This can be done through workout DVDs and/or jogging. No gyms/equipment necessary!)

Listen to yourself over others. These vacations back home are twice as fun because of the people I get to see. However, these same people like to use a lot of phrases like, “It’s okay, you’re on vacation! Go ahead and have cake for all three meals.” Try and remember that they’re not going to see what you look like once you get back. You’re going to notice changes in your body that they don’t. This your vacation and your body. Don’t let the peer pressure get to you. Especially if they’re good friends.



Photo credit: Natalie Goodwin


Now there’s one exception to the last rule: Do whatever the bride tells you.

PH Wedding

Don’t get me wrong: My friend Paula didn’t tell me to eat extra cake. But as a rule of thumb, always listen to the bride! Congrats to Paula and Will, who got married last Saturday. Hopefully they won’t see this for a bit, as they’re currently in Hawaii.

And if they’re eating cake right now, I’ll totally allow it.