Lessons to Take into 2018

How can what you learnt in 2017 help you in the year ahead?

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This year has certainly been challenging for me. I’ve had some health complications, suffered business burnout and had some issues with staying in my balance bandwidth. It could be very easy, at this time of year where everyone starts talking about “new year, new you” to jump on the bandwagon and only look forward at what resolutions I want to set and get straight into that uber driven goal setting place.

Now there’s nothing wrong with wanting to set goals and resolutions. In fact, I did a whole range of videos and blog posts on it last year. I looked at the research on the best way to set goals so you achieve them, the benefits of relationship goals and how to share the goals so you’re more likely to achieve them.

But I’ve learnt a lot of lessons this year and I don’t want to move forward without capturing those lessons and how I want to take them into the new year.

Practice, practice, practice

I’ve come to realise that in most there often isn’t an endpoint. You won’t reach the ideal balance and be done. Self-esteem and confidence don’t have an on or off switch. Businesses aren’t built from giving it everything until you’re out of juice. Knowing yourself and what you want out of life isn’t a one-off activity. We’re always changing and therefore it’s impossible to have a static anything.

I’ve spent years believing there would come this point in time where everything would come together and work in perfect harmony. This year taught me that isn’t really the case. I’ve come to realise life is a series of practices, that knit together to form the bigger picture of your life. And those practices take practice! Continual repetition, evaluation and tweaking. There won’t be one way to do anything and even if you find a way something works for you, it won’t necessarily always work for you.

Going forward I want to explore the practices in my life, how they come together to form the fabric of my life, if they’re working and how they can be enhanced.

Nothing’s forever

As I mention above I realised in 2017 that there isn’t one way to do anything that will always be the best way to do it. Humans need variation and variety in their life. This means that things come to an end and that’s perfectly normal. This belief that I’d reach a point where everything comes together works on the idea that once this magical place is found everything will remain the same from then on. But for that to be true I wouldn’t be able to change and grow as a person.

Now, this has been most evident in my career. I’ve been looking for that one career path that I will be happy doing for the rest of my life. I’d planned to grow and develop within that career path, but it would always be the same thing. And this has been hard for me, as so far, I’ve changed “career path” 4 times and I’m still not convinced about the one I’m currently on. It makes me feel like I’m failing. In 2018 I don’t want to see this as failing, I want to recognise the natural end of each thing I’ve done and embrace the evolution of me and my life.

Patience is important

I’ve spoken about patience before, but it continues to be a lesson I need to learn. I feel this is one of those lessons that will forever come up for me. I’m impatient. I like making quick decisions, putting the steps in place and then want everything to be better. And if it doesn’t get better right away I won’t persist. I basically give up! This year I’ve really started to see how this lack of persistence has lead to a lot of decision fatigue, scatty business practices and confidence issues.

Now, this isn’t to say that I want to persist forever at things I decided to do (see the point above about nothing being forever), but I want to find that balance between giving up too quickly, being able to pivot and change when required, and sticking when it’s time to move on. All things I hope to explore over the coming months. All in all, I want to be less black and white about this stuff.

Struggle is part of the package

A lot of my impatience comes from this belief there’s a point I’ll reach where everything feels right. That when you find the right things in your life it all feels balanced, easy and energising.

Operating on that belief means that when things get hard, I start to question if I’m doing the right thing. If I was meant to exercise this way/follow this eating plan/have this business wouldn’t it feel motivating and energising all the time?

But life doesn’t work that way. In ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ Mark Manson talks about happiness comes from overcoming struggle. That having problems and struggles are a critical part of the human psyche. And this was a revelation for me. It made me realise that everything will come with hardships and struggles. And the question is not if it’s the right thing for me but if it’s the right struggle for me.

Looking back on the things I’ve done in my life that have been hugely satisfying and created a lot of happiness I can now see that there was struggle there. It just didn’t register as a huge struggle as the thing I was working towards was worth the struggle that came with it.

Speak up for what you want, even if it’s the smallest thing

I’m a big advocate of you putting your needs first. I believe that we have to put ourselves first before we can have a fulfilling life or great relationships. Since being married I’ve started noticing this behaviour has slipped for me slightly. And I don’t want to be a hypocrite; I want to practice what I preach. And that means more practice at speaking up for what I want. In 2018 I especially want to focus on voicing my opinion about trivial things, such as what to have for dinner or what to watch on Netflix.

Not voicing opinions like these are a classic way people think they’re being nice but they’re actually people pleasing. And it’s easy to do, as often the opinion is about something seemingly trivial that won’t make a difference to your life. But doing this over time can lead to erosion of the connection and communication in your relationship. It’ll also make it harder to voice your opinions about the big things when they arise. Telling people how you feel and what you want are skills that require practice to get better at.

Now, expressing my opinion doesn’t mean I’ll always expect to get my way. It simply means I’ve spoken up for what I want, and from there we can compromise if we need to.

Consume less

I’m definitely an information junkie. It’s a great way to procrastinate without feeling bad about it. I’ll keep reading about how to do something, looking for the “best” way to do something, rather than actually doing it. This behaviour backfires because, the more I know, the less sure I am about which is the “best” action to take. I’m great at learning myself into a bind.

Diet and nutrition is a great example of this – if you researched all the ways you should or shouldn’t eat, you’d end up only eating vegetables and drink water (they’re probably the only two things everyone agrees on!) And when you have all that knowledge it makes every decision about what to eat so hard. Do you do the vegetarian thing, or the paleo, or the anti-diet one? Each will have pros and cons, each will have people defending it and criticising. And this is because, as with almost everything in life, there isn’t one answer. We’re all unique and therefore what works for one person might not work for you.

This is the problem I have with consuming too much information. It allows me to procrastinate, makes decision making nearly impossible, takes up more of my limited cognitive capacity meaning I have less for more important things, and reduces my power and trust in myself.

Now I’m not saying I’ll completely stop looking at the information out there. Looking for someone else who’s done what you want to do and looking at how they did it can make life a whole lot easier. But I’ll be evaluating any information I consume through the lens of my own life. We need to be more evaluative of the information we’re consuming and checking about whether it applies to us. And then, when I take action, I’ll be applying the practice, practice, practice principle to the steps I take.

Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to

There’s definitely a theme coming through on all of these points, that I had this belief that there was this magical place I’d reach where everything would be balanced, and flow and be easy. And that isn’t real life. I’m sure I’m not the only person who believes this. It’s a story that gets perpetuated in mainstream culture. Let’s face it, it’s a great marketing tool. Humans like shortcuts and easy answers and this story is part of that desire.

I see it so much in the online business world. People promising you success if you follow their plan. Or the promise of the ‘laptop lifestyle’, with images of people sitting on beaches with a cocktail. And the positive memes that tell you that you can do or be anything you want if you just believe in yourself. Now I do believe we need some of this in our life. But too much of it creates an expectation that life should be easy. And then when it isn’t we end up feeling worse about ourselves.

When I started my business I expected to wake up motivated by it every day because I was doing something I love, I was living my dream. But that wasn’t the reality, and I’ve found it really bloody hard. When I wasn’t feeling it I started to question what I was doing, as people love to talk about how everything flows once you find your passion. If it wasn’t flowing did this mean it wasn’t my passion?

Now I’m beginning to realise that, even when you do find your passion, there are sacrifices that have to be made. There will be struggles and there will be days you simply hate your passion. That doesn’t mean it isn’t your passion, it means you’re human and have a human range of emotions. We aren’t able to be ‘on’ and enthusiastic 100% of the time. We all need downtime, we all have bad days and there will be periods where you don’t want to do it. I want to keep this in mind on my bad days and give myself the space I need then pick myself back up and carry on.

If you’re anything like me, the moment you know you have to do something, the desire to do it lessens. And I want to let you know that’s ok, that’s life. When you feel like that though, sometimes you still need to do it. And I think we need to all be more honest about this fact. The need to present a successful outward appearance all the time can be so damaging.

There are the lessons I want to take into 2018. How are you feeling about the year ahead? What lessons did you learn in 2017 that you can take forward with you?

Originally published at www.idealbalancecoaching.co.uk

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