7 Things I Learned in 2017
When the new year approaches I always like to take a little time to reflect back on the calendar year that has just past, and put a few things into perspective. The most important gains of the year to me, aside from memories made with my loved ones, are the lessons I learned over those 365 days of life. Since this blog is launching in the new year, and I've personally promised myself to share my real thoughts here with all of you; today I am sharing my list of the 7 most valuable things I learned in 2017, and my thoughts on each little life epiphany along the way.
So here it goes...
1. Things don't always turn out the way you planned, and that's ok.
I kind of feel like once a year life likes to really sock me in the jaw with this one at least once or twice or 287,657 times (but who’s counting really?) because each time, wether I’m grateful for the experience or not, it was necessary. I truly believe that. Yes even the time I sat in traffic on 281 for an hour just to realize I could have exited, gone a different route, and been home in 10 minutes. Something beneficial happens when curve balls (even little ones,) are thrown and we have to readjust our perfect day or life plan. We are thrown into momentary awareness. Awareness on any level can not only be a powerful tool, but a beneficial asset. So much growth happens when we are forced to reassess a situation, change our course, and become more present in what’s going on around us every single day. I can’t think of a specific example this past year to share with you here as I write this off the cuff, but I can tell you that many times when I experienced an unexpected situation or outcome be it significant or small, I realized that I was given so much more than just a bit of disappointment, I was forced to become aware, understand that I can still survive a situation that is not perfectly in my control, and realized that adapting too circumstance instead of fighting it can prove so much more fruitful in my personal development. Which leads me directly into lesson #2…
2. A New Perspective on Patience.
This past year I got a good ole fashion refresher course in what it truly means to have patience in a situation. After several events in 2017, that did not go as planned, I’ve realized something really important about patience that I hadn't in years past, and it is this: When our patience is tested, it’s not necessarily the ability to wait for something that’s tested, as much as it is a test of our self-control. Often when we find ourselves feeling restless in life due to circumstances that are in some measure outside of our control, we begin to develop anxiety due to that feeling of limitation in our lives. That is ultimately what causes us to lose patience, throw tantrums (yes, adults do it too,) and even start feeling sorry for ourselves. In 2017 when I felt as though a particular situation was out of my control, (and certainly not within my personal “perfect timing,”) I knew good and well what I didn't want to occur. I did not want to add to the anxiety by focusing unnecessary attention and thought on what I cannot control. I knew I did not want to consume precious moments of my life sitting around and waiting for something to happen. So, I decided each and every time I was tempted to be frustrated by a current situation or feel as though it was holding me back from my goals and aspirations, I would re-direct my focus. I continuously made the effort to concentrate all my attention on positive action steps towards goals and other things in life I enjoyed. I consciously took control. So basically my little life lesson was this: Patience doesn't mean you're not anxious or frustrated regards to a situation, it Is simply the ability to remain calm, collected, and focused while understanding the outcome will come in the appropriate time for you.
3. You aren't what everyone else thinks you are, and you do not have to be what they think you should be.
We all have our own sets of beliefs and values when it comes to this fleeting moment in time we call our lives. Most of those (some would argue all) come from your experiences in life and those who have guided us through thus far. Especially our parents, guardians, teachers, and mentors in our earlier stages of life. Truth be told, while some of the beliefs and values of those people throughout my life have strongly resonated within me, others I’ve always struggled with. In an effort to not write a total novel to this point, but also not sound completely vague (sharing my true authentic self with you all here is one of my new years resolutions) I’ll just say this: Often the opinions of our parents are thrust upon us as children in the form of rules and regulation. This is of course done out of love and our parents best efforts to cultivate a beautiful existence for us. But at times those rules, if a child continues to break them or not meet exception, can begin to make an individual feel guilty, not worthy, or even like a failure. Now before any of you start wondering what rule is it that My parents enforced that has prompted this therapy couch worthy moment. I will tell you there isn't one in particular. I was a very well behaved child. But coming from a strict christian household I did feel the pressures to be “perfect” from time to time. I often failed. And those failures and decisions as a child and adolescent that did not meet my parents approval really weighed on my conscience and even my confidence. I know now as an adult my idea of the “perfect” child desired by my parents was simply my perception of their rules, and not necessarily their reality. but nonetheless, I am mentioning it here, because it truly wasn't until I turned 30. (it’s a magic number. I don't know how or why people but it is mmmmk?). For some reason this year was just extremely mentally freeing for me. I realized approval from anyone other than myself is not needed. Nor is someone else’s disapproval or opinion affective in my life if I don't allow it to be. This is not rebellious thinking or behavior on my part. I love and adore everyone who takes the time to care about my life and its happenings however the my in the phrase My Life has just taken much more precedence and meaning this past year. All others opinions have seemed to just fade into the background noise. and that I must admit is pretty nice. Sorry not sorry.
...Which brings me to my next little lesson in life for twenty seventeen:
4. I learned to stop apologizing. More than that I learned to apologize.
Confused yet? I will explain: Often times, especially as young women for some reason we have the tendency to apologize for our basic existence and explain it away as common courtesy or manners when in actuality it isn't necessary and quit frankly a self-demeaning waste of our time. more than that, It trivializes real necessary apologies in our lives and relationships. Now Im not saying that when I walk down an aisle at target with my oversized (overstuffed) cart I don't politely say excuse me to anyone I might cross paths with because I do. That is courteous. However when I’m having a conversation, or stating my opinion, or merely existing in the world, I no longer habitually apologize for ridiculous menial things. For some reason I used to be sorry for everything. In the checkout line: “I don't have exact change: I’m sorry.” “I’m
sorry I didn't mean to bother you.” “Sorry I talk a lot” (repeat offender with this one). I’ve even caught myself apologizing to an inanimate object after accidentally running into it. (all time low people.) When trivial apologies were banned from my vernacular something pretty interesting happened. (or pretty obvious for all you realists out there) true apologies you know the ones that catch in our throats before they come out. The ones that are necessary because we had a moment of imperfection and poor judgement and actually hurt someone else’s feelings or caused an unpleasant experience to occur. Those apologies became more rewarding, and easier. Im serious. When I stopped over owning my lack of right to exist with other human beings even if its inconvenient for them (sorry not sorry every person going 80 in a mini van in the slow lane ever.) and started focusing on what really matters, my awareness increased. It felt pretty good. I even gathered the courage this year to reach out to an old friend I hadn't spoke to in 4 years after a falling out. 4 years….and I am so glad I told her I was sorry.
5. To change your life all you have to do is change your mind.
When I say I learned this. I seriously did. Like most, I have always struggled to change habits or find resilience in an area of my life I may not be as disciplined in. But this year, something happened that made me realize, changing habits can require little effort and happen in an instant if one magical thing occurs…a complete changing of the mind. This summer, in an effort to become healthier I dove into research and even the occasional Netflix documentary to search for a better way of eating. I was so tired of consuming things that were of no benefit to my body. I’ve heard the quote time and again (as I’m sure you have too) “food is fuel” but it never really resonated with me. It did however eat away at me enough (no pun intended) to start to research what foods actually fuels the body and what foods actually promote disease and poor health. After a couple months of research, I cant really explained what happened but for the sake of this post I’m going to call it an instant and new understanding. After this so called dietary enlightenment occurred in my life, my habits and ways of consuming foods changed instantly and almost with little effort. This didn't happen because I forced a new diet upon myself. It simply happened because a belief I once had about food changed. And in the words of Tony Robbins, “Change your beliefs, change your life.” I can say this year I without a doubt learned that it really can be that simple, and I am looking forward to using that tactic to change other areas in my life that I’m not so happy with as well in 2018. (personal fitness, I’m coming for you next.)
6. Authenticity is not only worth it, but necessary.
I did something really scary and very out of my comfort zone this year: I shared my personal story about cancer, loss, and all the emotions that came with both as I re-launched my blog this past October. It was scary for me because I tend to lead a rather private internet existence compared to most. For the 10 years I’ve been on Facebook I have little show in posts and engagement with others before the fall of 2017. This wasn't because I didn't want to share my life with my little circle of social media friends, it was simply because…well, I’m kinda shy when it comes to talking about myself, and even more timid when it comes to revealing personal things about myself to anyone much less on the internet. But with a little bid of courage and a whole lot of desire to start sharing my life through my blog again, I just went for it. I could of just re-launched with some fun fashion posts, made a few peppy comments about jumping back in the blogging world, and traveled right along on my little digital way. But I didn't want to do that, because I knew more than anything else, I wanted my blog to be authentic. And Authenticity doesn't just mean sharing your marvelous uniqueness with the world, it also means being the real, raw you. With the growing influence and impact of social media, there’s this continually growing gap between reality and the perception of reality and we have to adamantly try to fill it with (compassion and) authenticity. Now what I mean by that isn't simply stating our mind in # characters or less on twitter, but when sharing our lives and thoughts with others, it’s important to understand that what gets placed on the internet for all the world to see is a portrait, a perception. Too often we get easily caught up in the entertainment of the internet and the perfect lives it portrays of celebrities and influencers alike. It’s important to remember that our computer screens and what they contain in no way dictate how life should be led or what value you should give to yours due to others experiences that have been hand-picked, filtered, then shared on the world wide web.
7. Motivation can momentarily get you moving in the right direction, but its inspiration that keeps you consistent.
For me 2017 was the year of motivational quotes, and while I really love a good emotionally charged statement to really get me going in the right direction each morning, at some point in the past 12 months I realized that finding motivation is a good thing, but becoming inspired is much greater and much much more powerful. Motivation is conditional and tends to be short-lived once energy has faded away. Inspiration is deeply-rooted within our purpose and persistent. When you’re motivated to do or achieve something you instantly gain momentum to press toward that goal or fixation. This is great for momentary accomplishments as we push toward the ultimate desired result, but it’s basically the capacity to sprint as fast as we can to win the race at hand, were as inspiration gives us the stamina to finish the marathon. When we feel inspired rather than motivated…we tend to relate our emotional response to our actual overall purpose, not just the task at hand or goal itself. Inspiration can function completely independent of motivation and can not only move you forward but hold steady after your energy to keep going wears thin.
I’ve created a short ebook about Motivation Vs. Inspiration and how to find both in your life if you’re interested…
What are some lessons, experiences, or epiphanies you had in 2017? I hope you will share them with me in the comments below.
Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today.