As I was reflecting on 2019 to write my 2019: A Year In Review blog post, I realized that 2019 was filled with more than a few 'lows' which required A LOT of personal strength and growth. Don't get me wrong, 2019 also had some 'high's and there was plenty to be thankful for, but I was forced to dig deep and push myself out of my comfort zone on multiple occasions. This blog post, like my '2019: Year In Review', has proven to be quite cathartic as a way to reflect on the lessons I learned last year and will continue to reinforce and build upon for the rest of 2020!
1. Start before you're "ready". I learned this one in relation to starting and building my photography business. You have to move past the fear of the unknown and change, push yourself out of your comfort zone or else you'll never know just how happy you can be. Change is super scary, but regret is even scarier. Without change, there's no progress and I don't know about you but I definitely want to keep growing and pushing myself to be a better version of myself. So lesson learned? Keep pushing forward and never settle no matter how scary/easy/tempting.
2. Don't worry about the future.
This is a really really big one for me because it is hands down what I struggle with the most. I am a type-A person, I thrive on structure and routine and this feeling of being in control. Being a military spouse doesn't always mesh well with my personality and I have to constantly tell myself not to worry/stress/get emotional about things that are simply out of our control. In addition to moving to a new state, a change in my husband's orders and a deployment, we also went through two miscarriages. That's A LOT of emotional change for one year and I'm only human.
Having a miscarriage is by far one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to endure (emotionally and physically) and to go through it twice made every day a struggle. This year I learned that trauma is not my fault, but healing is my responsibility and in order to do so I needed to accept that certain things are 100% out of my control. Once I accepted that things were totally out of our/my control, and there’s nothing I could do to change that, I felt a huge weight lifted. I’m now trying to apply that mindset to all kinds of different things and it's absolutely still a work in progress, but overall I feel much more relaxed and happier in general.
3. Productivity before 8:00 am is a game-changer. Since becoming a Mom I’ve gradually turned into an early riser, I don't know if it's because I'm so wiped out emotionally/physically/etc. come the end of the day that I'm falling asleep earlier than in the past?! But for me, when I’m productive before 8:00 am my WHOLE day is more productive. I try to get up between 6:00-6:30 am and even if I just get a few things done before my day officially starts, it just puts me in such a better mindset. When you get to do things for YOU, whether that be writing in a gratitude journal, drinking hot coffee in a quiet, clean house or knocking out some emails and editing before you start your day, you just feel so much better. Fact. I definitely want to keep this routine going on for 2020.
4. Planning will save your sanity.
Take it from me, there is no such thing as being too organized or planning too much. For me planning things such as meals, making budgets, laying out clothes and packing the diaper bag the night before, all those things make my life less stressful. I have enough to worry about as it is, I don't need to be running around at 8:54 am trying to find my keys when Emma needs to be to school in 6 minutes. Don't be scared to try a few different systems until you find what works for YOU... Maybe it's a planner, or perhaps using a shared Google calendar to keep track of appointments, events, bills, etc. Just find what works for you and stick with it because over time it will become routine and you'll be much happier and less stressed. I've made so many small changes to my daily routine to make things less stressful and planning is the root of all those changes. So if you feel overwhelmed and need a change, just start small and gradually add new changes as the others become a habit.
5. Nothing worth having comes easy. This one really isn't anything revolutionary, but the main thing I kept reminding myself last year was that nothing worth having comes easy. Good things take time and when you know you’ve given something your all, you’ll enjoy & appreciate it 10 times more. So if you’re currently putting blood, sweat & tears into something….just keep going. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
6. Start enjoying your life NOW. And finally, I learned to live in the moment and enjoy what I have. It was so easy for me to focus and dwell upon the fact that we haven't been able to grow our family as planned, I spent so much time worrying about that I wasn't appreciating and enjoying what we DO have. A beautiful & healthy daughter, a roof over our heads and food in our bellies, friends, and families who love and support us. Jared is SO amazing at staying positive and reminding me of everything we do have, he's my rock and has taught me so much about living life to the fullest.
Of course, everyone is working towards dreams and I’m in no way saying that we should stop. But I do think we live in a world where we’re always striving and thinking about the next best thing and without even realizing it, we forgot to enjoy the now. It’s a vicious cycle. So, this is your reminder to slow down and appreciate what you have NOW. Quite often, it’s what we used to dream about having. Next time you catch yourself about to say "I can’t wait to have/to be...", switch it to "How awesome is it that I am/ we have…". Watch the difference it makes in your life.
I hope these lessons I learned help motivate or inspire you to think differently in 2020!