It’s my birthday eve today. I don’t know about you, but I have mixed feelings about my birthday. It’s funny because I love celebrating other people – ever since I was a kid I’m always the person who bakes cupcakes for every single person in the class/office/circle of friends on their birthday. But I’ve never particularly been big on celebrating my own. Maybe it’s because I don’t like being the center of attention, or perhaps I’m such a giver it’s hard for me to receive.
I’ve always hated having a birthday so close to New Years, and anyone with a January birthday will agree: no one remembers it because it’s the first week back from vacation, your parents just divided the Christmas presents in two and gave you half at Christmas and half on your birthday, and I – just like everyone else – feel tired from all the celebrating and don’t have a desire to drink alcohol and eat cake. If I had my choice I’d have been born in a warmer month, far away from the holidays. Maybe that’s why the 4th of July is my favorite day of the year.
Needless to say, with a birthday a week after New Years, I can be prone to existential crises at the beginning of January. The celebration of a new year for the world and a new year in my life often makes me feel like I never did enough or accomplished my goals, and it’s overwhelming to think of what I want of the year ahead. Fuel to the fire: it’s also the anniversary of quitting my job.
Ditching resolutions and creating a year theme has taken the pressure off of feeling like the turn of the year must be something momentous. A theme is much more fluid than a resolution; it’s about being rather than doing. Part of my process for wrapping up one year and starting a new one is to write down the past year’s highlights: accomplishments and best moments. Writing my 2013 “brag list”, I realized that my biggest accomplishments also taught me some of my biggest lessons. Perhaps because it’s my birthday it feels important to share the lessons I learned this last year. While we often like to focus on the end result, it’s the process that teaches us the lessons.
Before I dive in, I want to say thank you. One of my biggest accomplishments of 2013 is that you’re reading this right now, and I feel humbly grateful that you’ve shared this journey with me and take the time to listen to what I say. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
BRAG: Completed Yoga Teacher Training
LESSONS: The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know & everyone has something to teach you
It’s incredibly humbling to start studying a new subject. While I’ve been a practitioner of yoga for years, within days of my yoga teacher training I could see how much there was to learn – and there was no way that I was going to learn it in a month. My teachers emphasized that we were not supposed to: studying yoga is a life-long journey, and you are a continual student. The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. The important thing is to stay open and keep learning (tweet it).
There was a fellow student in my class who, starting on day one, drove me nuts. To my credit, I think he drove everyone a little nuts. He would raise his hand and ask irrelevant (and often inappropriate) questions that would derail the class. I kept thinking to myself, he’s here to teach me something.
On the last day of class, we were partnered together to teach a “private” (one-on-one) class. I took a little time to prepare a class for him, and we got started. I was shocked to discover that I LOVED teaching him. I had taught a few classes during my training, and without a doubt that was the most enjoyable class I taught. Through teaching him, I learned that I enjoy one-on-one teaching much more than group classes. He told me afterward that he had had a preconceived notion about me, but through my teaching saw me in a whole different light. Apparently, we were meant to teach each other something. Everyone that comes into your life is there to teach you something, especially the people who really get under your skin and frustrate you the most.
BRAG: Designed my own website
LESSON: There is an answer to everything – but you have to ask
My coach kept telling me to hire a designer, but I kept telling her I really enjoyed building my own website. I discovered a creative outlet and working on the design of my website fulfilled a creative void that had been missing for a long time. That said, there’s a lot to learn when you’re designing a website, or mastering any new skill:
- There is an answer to everything – and you can usually find it on Google.
- Since an answer almost always exists, someone has done this before – so always check.
- However, you have to ask the question, which means you have to let go of thinking you have to figure everything out for yourself (tweet it).
BRAG: Landed a business consulting gig with a woman I admire
LESSON: Always be of service first
In a yoga training this year (I did three after my teacher training – they are addictive!) and had a total girl crush on the teacher. I loved what she was teaching and who she was. So I checked out her website.
Having just gone through Marie Forleo’s B-School, a business and marketing training program for female entrepreneurs, I noticed a number of things that could be improved. I wrote her an email and told her my suggestions, purely wanting to support her so she could reach more people with her work. She was so grateful she ultimately hired me to start working with her and we’re still working magic together.
It all started with me giving freely to her without any expectation in return, just wanting to help her because I admired her. Always be of service first – you’ll be rewarded in more ways than you can count (tweet it).
BRAG: Left for Paris on a moment’s notice
LESSON: Jumping into a life dream is scary, even if you’ve always wanted to do it
When my sister jokingly said we should go to Paris for our dad’s birthday, we never thought we’d actually go. But I immediately thought, why can’t we? With no good reason, and reasonably priced plane tickets, we decided to buy tickets to Paris with less than a week’s notice. Pushing “buy” on those plane tickets was one of the scariest things any of us had done in a while. It was something we all wanted to do – in fact it was a personal dream of mine to work from Paris – so why was it so scary?
- It caused me to go from fantasy to reality. I had to commit to making it real, and commit to doing what I said I wanted.
- It tested the limit of what I thought was possible for myself and pushed me to grow even faster.
- It forced me to think about myself and my world in a different way.
- It completely uprooted what I thought my life was going to be like in the immediate future.
Change is scary, especially unanticipated change. We resist the modification in our plans and our schedules, and feel scared when we test our limits of what we think is possible for ourselves. By flying to Paris on a moment’s notice, I did the work to make my dream a reality, in the face of fears that would hold me back. I forced myself to evolve – which we all know is scary as hell.
BRAG: Launched a new business & broke even
LESSON: You need faith + hustle to run your own business
This year was a bit of a roller coaster for me. January 1, 2013 was my first day of retirement. Fast forward to January 1, 2014 and I have a coaching and consulting business that broke even in its first six months (and I spent a lot of money on personal development!).
I credit this to completely dedicating myself to growing my business, and having the faith that it would all work out when I was feeling low – and you feel low a lot your first year! I knew deep down that things were going to work out, and that faith pulled me through. I also did the work – I did everything I could to make my business successful as soon as possible.
It also kept me open to new opportunities – such as business consulting – that I hadn’t even considered before. But there’s a lot of unpaid work when you’re starting your own business, and you have to really believe in what you are doing and the life you are building to be able to stick with it.
BRAG: Guest post on the Daily Love
LESSON: Your dreams can come true a lot faster than you think
I wrote a lot this year – 35 posts on this blog and guest posts for Mind Body Green, Brazen Careerist, Live in the Grey, and (drumroll) The Daily Love.
Even though I deep down dreamed of writing for the Daily Love, I never thought it would happen. With the likes of Marianne Williamson and Danielle LaPorte, I thought it would be years before I would gain the kind of following and clout – and spiritual gravitas – to write for them. Then I met Mastin Kipp at an event, told him about a blog post idea, and he said to send it over. It was published a few weeks later, and I had fulfilled a personal dream of publishing on the Daily Love.
Similarly to working from France, I thought I was years away from writing for the Daily Love (if ever). I never thought it would happen just months into my business. As with my France trip, I learned that your dreams can come true a lot faster than you think – you just have to put yourself in a place where you can say yes (tweet it).
BRAG: Doula at my niece’s birth
LESSON: Life goes on (ob la di, ob la da)
Being present at someone’s birth is the most miraculous thing. I was so honored to be the doula at my cousin’s birth of her second child (I was the doula for her first, too). Witnessing someone being born reminds you that life is constantly renewing itself. The miracle of a new life puts your daily worries and fears into perspective.
Everyone is born into so much love. There is so much possibility at the beginning of life, and we slowly lose that sense of infinite opportunity as we age. Seeing a baby born with its whole life ahead of it, seeing the joy and love that accompanies those first few moments of existence, puts everything else into perspective.
With such a focus on launching a business this year, I forgot that there is a whole world out there – and life always goes on. The peaks and valleys that punctuate the extreme life of an entrepreneur seem completely irrelevant when you’re holding a newborn. It’s so beautiful to remember your place in the circle and dance of life.
LESSON: Setting an intention works
Organizing a lecture series was a dream of mine, but I was nervous about how much work organizing it would be – and of course nervous that no one would show up and that it would be incredibly scary to talk “in front of” people (even if its on the phone). I kept procrastinating for months and then I finally set a date about a month in advance.
I set an intention that I would complete all the work for the lecture series with ease and joy. Within a week, I designed the web page, wrote all the copy for every single email that would go out, queued up all the social media posts for the month, and made a guide for the guest experts so they could easily share it with their communities. I finished a day early and treated myself to a 3-day weekend. I didn’t have to do anything else for three weeks, except for show up at the lecture.
Even better – I had a blast doing it. I learned that setting an intention really works. (Access the recordings here)
Celebrating our achievements is so important. If we don’t stop to recognize how far we’ve come, we’re more likely to burn out and give up. So take a minute and share your biggest brag of 2013 in the comments below – and what it taught you. (Bonus: I bet it will boost your mood ten fold!)