Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Taught me 12 Important Lessons

For many years now, I've been openly against New Year's Resolutions. I've always said that if you want to change something, it shouldn't matter what the calendar says - just go ahead and change it then and there. And that's how I've lived my life for the most part.

This philosophy has served me extremely well.

But this year, it just so happens that the end of the calendar year lines up precisely with my stark and frightening realization that I need to make some changes. Not willing to contradict myself - we're not calling these "resolutions." These are lessons that would be of great benefit if I could just fully digest and firmly believe them, and of course put them into action.

12 Lessons I learned in 2013:

1. Opportunities present themselves all the time. Do not pass things up because you perceive them as imperfect, too difficult, out of reach, or scary. In fact, all of those are reasons TO take an opportunity. 2013 was definitely my "Year of Opportunity."

2. If someone doesn't want to hear what you have to say - screw them. I don't usually use that kind of language (okay just not in this blog), but this is something I seriously need to get right in 2014. It's okay for people to disagree with you. Actually, people disagreeing with your viewpoint can either sway you in a more informed direction or strengthen your own beliefs. However, no one can silence you or make you feel like what you have to say is invalid, unimportant, irrelevant, or unnecessary. I said no one "can" - meaning quite literally no one has that ability. Only you can make yourself feel less than, and when someone tries to shut you up, you can either give them that right by validating their desire to turn off your voice or you can give them half the peace sign and take your pure genius elsewhere. 

I didn't get where I am by having bad ideas. In fact, one of my main selling points is that I'm creative and articulate, and that's exactly why I had such a successful year. So if someone doesn't want to hear my thoughts (even the crappy ones), then they're not worth my time.

3. However, timing is everything. Maybe you don't need to share your thoughts the moment they pop into your head. Let your thoughts brew a little bit. Ask people what they think first - then when they're done and it's quiet, share your opinion. Not every opinion needs to be shared either. Sometimes it's best to wait until someone asks, "What do you think?" Do not interrupt people. It invalidates what you have to say and it's rude. You're a lady.

4. You no longer associate with people who (consistently) make you feel yucky inside. This is important. I am not going to let people into my life that I have to jump through hoops to gain their approval (and even then I usually don't get it anyway). This happened with a few people this year and it left me feeling absolutely spent and also kind of dumb.

See what had happened was... I did all kinds of things - circus acts practically - to get a certain few people to like me (okay, in some instances - practically worship me) and then when I zoomed out from that goal and looked at the big picture I realized something pretty nuts (and this is why I felt kind of dumb), I didn't even like those people. I need to accept the simple fact that:

(or somebody who loves peaches but just sucks at being nice to them)

5. You do enough. You are enough. This is a tricky one because I'm ambitious and I like that about me. In fact, I've achieved a lot of success because I'm my biggest critic. I don't want that to change. But I need to keep in mind that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, who I'm supposed to be, how I'm supposed to be. So, go ahead and continue to strive to be better, because you can never be too smart, successful, pretty, healthy, funny, friendly, loving, whatever... but understand that you're already doing a great job, and mistakes are opportunities - usually the best kind.

6. If somebody wants you - you'll know. Anything else is an augmentable detail of how convenient you are to them. I read that somewhere on the internet this past year, wrote it down, and forgot where it came from, but it's deeply resonated with me. This basically goes back to #4 so I won't spend much time on it, but essentially we all need to stop wasting our time with people who don't want to bask in our light. Stop being the one waiting in the wings.

7. Listen to people more. Be observant of their needs. You'll be surprised what people will let on about themselves even in passing conversation. Take note. People teach you how to treat them. Some people need a lot of support, a lot of positive feedback, affection, attention, and reassuring. Why not just give people what they need? Most of the time it's free.

8. Say "yes" more. The media is constantly telling us, women especially, that we need to learn to say "no." Like we're taking on too much. We need more time for ourselves. EFF THAT NOISE. Stop thinking about yourself so much. No one is thinking about you as much as you're thinking about you, so it would do you some good to get out of that dangerous neighborhood between your ears and do some things for other people. Say "yes" to the people you love and the things you're passionate about. No one ever won a Noble Prize or became a millionaire because of all the "me time" they took.

9. Your income does not know about all the things you think you need. Somewhere along the line I got it in my head that how much money I have in the bank and how much I need (or more accurately think I need) are related. I make enough to pay for the true necessities and a few luxuries, but I have this mindset sometimes where I see something - like a book - and I justify purchasing it because it's some kind of good cause or good for me or this book will have all the answers I'm searching for. Finish reading the books you have first, maybe?

10. No more selfies. Cultivate photo worthy moments with the people you love. I don't really take a lot of selfies (a few, yes), so the first part is easy. Stuff's happening. Frame it. Be grateful for all those "opportunities."

There are hundreds of other lessons I've learned this year, but unfortunately a lot of them I probably need to learn a few more times. I chose to narrow it down to the priorities, and even some of these will probably take some re-learning...

What did you learn this year?