“Only those that sleep make no mistakes.”
I love this quote by Ingvar Kamprad, founder of Ikea because it sums up the past year. Mistakes, celebrations, loss, and life lessons are how I will remember 2018.
I have learned more about my strengths and weaknesses than any year in the past. It also helped me grow personally and professionally. I find it helpful at the end of each year to look back at what I have learned and how far I’ve come. Here are the 11 life lessons that I learned in 2018.
1. Self-care isn’t a luxury item; it’s a necessity
I have to call myself out on overusing the term ‘self-care.’ As a therapist, it comes up as a need for almost all of my clients. Often many things battling for my time and self-care hasn’t been a priority in the past.
I learned this year that self-care isn’t a luxury it’s a necessity. I can’t be my best self personally or professionally without self-care. So, I began to make it a daily habit from something as simple as making time to go for a walk even when I’m busy or stop working early and do something I enjoy. If I don’t, then I am failing to be my best, so I owe it to myself and others around me.
Takeaway: Do something for yourself every single day.
2. What I nurture with my time and energy will be what grows
It is impossible to keep all of the plates spinning, so I stopped. When I stopped trying to make everything a priority, many of them fell and broke. Whether it was a task I needed to complete or a person that needed me, I couldn’t keep up.
Even though I felt like I failed at times, my world wasn’t destroyed, and I didn’t have any significant consequences from it. When this happened, it let me focus on what I wanted to spend my time and energy on. I learned to look at my goals for the day in the morning and priority which ones were most important. I limited my output to these and spent the rest of my time doing things that brought me joy. It’s a work in progress, but I find that if I want something to work, I have to be willing to invest in it.
Takeaway: Spend your free time on things you enjoy or with people you like.
3. Never go more than two days without activity
When day three creeps around and I haven’t done something active, I begin to unravel. My body becomes rigid and tight, which often leads to a headache. I also found myself less productive and useful.
I somehow make everything else a priority over my need to go for a walk or workout, so I hold myself accountable. I began scheduling activity a few days a week versus being unrealistic with the goal of every day. I found that aiming for five days a week was achievable and now it’s a part of my daily task that I look forward to.
Takeaway: Do something active every day, even if it’s only stretching.
4. Act now, not later
Often the items on my to-do list battle for attention, and it can lead me to feel overwhelmed. To combat this, I have started to take action on things I can do right at the moment with the hopes that I don’t have to add it to my list. If I can’t act at the moment, it either goes to my calendar to be done, or it goes on my to-do list.
Doing this makes me feel more effective and productive with my time. Now, when something comes to mind that I need to do, I ask can I do it right now versus later, and often just taking this action leads to completion. I have one to-do list versus multiple ones that never get completed.
Takeaway: Can you do this task right now, so you don’t have to add it to the list?
5. Call or text a friend now, not later
My best friend from childhood passed away this year. We meet in the second grade and were inseparable through school. After graduation, our lives changed, and even though we were still friends, I allowed life to get in the way. Her passing taught me that I failed as a friend. I could and should have done more. I was fortunate to spend a brief amount of time with her before she passed, but it wasn’t enough.
Life is short, and it’s unfortunate that it took losing her to realize it. If I had changed this in 2017, this year would have been different. I still have a way to go, but I am trying to do better at reaching out to friends at the moment versus waiting for a better time to do it. I never want to experience regret of taking action again.
Takeaway: Call or text your friend who you haven’t spoken to in months.
6. Giving permission to self is a daily ritual
The greatest gift I can give myself is permission to do whatever I need to do whenever I need to do it. Whether it’s letting go of control or not being happy with a result of a task, giving myself permission just to let it be has been freeing.
My ability to permit myself not to have to do things perfectly and to accept my faults is a daily ritual. Allowing myself to let go of imperfection and not get hung up on the small stuff is a goal I work towards every day. This includes telling myself to let it go multiple times per day.
Takeaway: Permit yourself to let it go.
7. Don’t take good health for granted
I am fortunate to have good health, but 2018 wasn’t as kind to my partner. He developed a surgical infection which is still affecting his health today. His life changed in many ways which also affected my life. His ability to stay positive and focused inspires me.
We would have never anticipated this type of health issue, but it’s a reminder that anything can happen at any time. Now I make sure my morning gratitude always includes my health and mobility.
Takeaway: Be grateful for your health.
8. Be intentional with action
2018 has taught me that being a multitasker isn’t a strength and it’s a weakness. As an entrepreneur, there is always something that needs to be done, and many things are left unfinished. I found myself with my laptop working while spending time with my partner. Even while watching TV I would work on emails or mindless tasks that were not moving me towards my goals.
I was checking things off my list, but it wasn’t making an impact, so I stopped. I have started being more intentional with my time whether it’s relaxing without my computer or phone. Since I started being more deliberate and present, I have learned how to be in the moment.
Takeaway: Be intentional and present in the moment.
9. Set big outrageous goals
I’m the queen of being realistic and logical. However, this year I have permitted myself to set big outrageous goals. I realized that nothing is stopping me from aiming high except myself.
I lacked permission, and I didn’t realize that I was responsible for granting it. Now, that I removed this filter, I am more creative with strategies to accomplish my goals.
Takeaway: Make your goals really big because the bigger, the better.
10. Protect my favorite time of the day
I have always been an early morning person. My favorite time of the day is 4:00am-6:00am. This is my ‘me’ time and my most productive part of the day.
From the quietness to lack of distractions, I get to reconnect with every aspect of myself. I read, journal, meditate and plan my day. This year taught me that I am responsible for protecting this time of the day which includes getting to bed around the same time every night. Even if my partner wants me to watch a movie at night, he knows that I’m heading to bed at a particular time so I can protect my time.
Takeaway: Protect your favorite time of the day.
11. Busy doesn’t mean productive
The past 12 months helped me realize that being busy doesn’t mean crap. Everyone is busy, and I’m not the exception. I can be as busy as I allow myself to be. Again, there is always something left undone on my to-do list.
I have improved my ability to prioritize what needs my attention as well as eliminate items that aren’t leading me to my goals. There is a lot of freedom in eliminating useless busy tasks. Busy doesn’t help me grow my business, but being productive does.
Takeaway: Ask yourself, are you productive or just busy?
These 11 life lessons are a good reminder of where I have been and direction for where I am going. I have no idea what 2019 has in store for me, but I do know that if I stay on my path the sky is the limit. I hope you take the time to reflect on this past year and change anything you want to see different in the next one. Get out of your own way and vow to make 2019 your year.
A clinical sexologist and psychotherapist. From sex/intimacy, personal growth, and relationships, I am here to help you every step of the way.