2017 was a huge year for a lot of us. For me, I moved from entrepreneurship to employment, I got engaged and I bought a house. My daughter turned seven, we had a puppy (and then didn’t have a puppy, more on that later) and we traveled to (and fell in love with) Banff.
2017 was also the year where I learned a lot of lessons both in my personal life and in my business / career life. I wanted to share a few of those here in case it helps you fast-track the pain and get to the good.
1. You Have to Take Care of Number One
And, number one is… YOU. This year, I learned that the only person who is going to truly take care of you is… you. Which means, you need to be willing to put yourself first sometimes and listen to what your body, mind and soul are craving.
I also learned that there’s nothing to be gained in ignoring yourself or sacrificing your needs for other people. For example, I spent most of the year hustling hard to the tune of sixteen to seventeen billable hour days. While this was great for the clients I worked for, it meant that I slowly turned into a productivity machine instead of a human being with work/life balance.
So, at the end of this year, I cut the cord with clients so that I could focus on my new job and it’s already paying off in spades. I have so much more downtime and time for creativity and while it feels completely foreign and new, it’s also really exciting.
You might feel a bit selfish pointing the focus onto yourself but trust me… it’s so needed and YOU are worth it!
2. Lower Your Expectations When It Comes to Other People
One of the best things I did in 2017? I stopped expecting so much of other people. While this may sound cynical or jaded (and, I suppose it sort of is), it is actually incredibly helpful. Especially when you reframe the way you are showing up to the people in your life.
Prior to this year, I had high expectations for the people in my life and I always assumed that people would show up the same way I did. And, when they didn’t, I was left disappointed.
For example, just last year I sent over 100 thank you notes out to various people for a wide range of reasons. Sometimes it was for something specific and other times it was a general, “Thanks for being you” sort of note. I received about five or six replies as a result of sending those cards.
Old me would have been a bit disappointed that so many of them went seemingly unnoticed but instead, I reframed it to focus on the positivity I felt when writing the cards, the gratitude practice that I had created and how it likely made that person feel when they read it. I didn’t need the reciprocation in the same way, I merely needed to look inside to say, “That felt good. That is enough.”
I suppose this whole lesson can be summarized by saying… do things that make you happy, that have pure and good intentions and ditch the scorecard because that’s really not what it’s all about.
3. Define Success In Your Own Way
This year, I made a huge career pivot. I went from being self-employed (I founded a virtual assistance company in 2004, which I later turned into a digital marketing consultancy that serviced clients around the globe) to being employed and a lot of people told me that I “sold out” in doing so. I chose to ignore those comments because sometimes, success needs to be defined by you and you alone.
For me, success isn’t a linear path in one direction. It isn’t the expected journey that is told in storybooks. It doesn’t always mean up and out, either. Sometimes, you need to follow what your heart and mind and body are saying that you need in order to feel truly happy and fulfilled.
When I met the team I now work with back in the summer of 2017, I knew that I wanted to be a part of what they were building. I fell in love with the team, the way they all worked so well together, the mission of the company and the pureness of their hearts. So, when they asked me to come on board, I didn’t even hesitate. I said yes and then went home to figure out how I would unravel a thirteen year old business in two weeks.
2017 meant listening to myself every step of the way and as a result, my entire life changed. I plan to continue paying attention to what I need in 2018 (and beyond) because so far, that has led me to so many things that I love.
What did you learn in 2017? I’d love for you to share that with me.
Until next time,
Also published on Medium.