If you grab a pencil with the toes of your left foot and try to draw a straight line - it would somewhat accurately illustrate the trajectory of my 2015. What a year it was! Full of surprise turns, consistently inconsistent yet ridiculously exhilarating, still exhausting but totally groundbreaking.
Starting with an intense need to ditch Florida that thankfully fell thru (but I nearly dropped everything to move to Austin, TX); followed by reconnecting with my brother after years of distance and learning a whole lot from his view into our childhood; facing a major blow to my professional ego when the company I worked for hired my new boss; starting my own event marketing and social consulting business StraightFwdCo to keep my creative side engaged; being so deeply in love with an amazing man only to realize that our life goals didn’t align well in time; traveling to Europe with my brother and best friend - both an amazing and revealing experience; moving into my dream place in my beloved downtown Delray and finally feeling at home; to unexpectedly starting on a completely new and exciting career path after being discovered by a headhunter via LinkedIn (keep your profile current, folks!); ending the year working 14-hour days between my two projects, yet feeling so immensely satisfied with the challenges I’ve taken on and the opportunities they’ll yield in the long run. And the cherry on top of the cake goes to seeing my baby-sister all of a sudden become a college student about to begin her new life at USC in Los Angeles, which is giving me some odd variety of an ‘empty-nester’ syndrome all while being tremendously proud and excited for her.
I can only look back in awe at everything that transpired and be grateful for all the lessons, the busts and the blessings. I feel like a new woman. As we wrap up the last few days of 2015, I wanted to share a few of the key takeaways with you in hopes that they may inspire you to be bold, brave and resilient in your journey.
1. Say what you mean, but don’t be mean!
Life’s too short to leave things unsaid. Say it, ask for it, mean it, yet be mindful of the impact your words make on another human being. Rule of thumb is to respond and not react to whatever feedback is coming your way. Treat people with respect, fairness and dignity - how you would like them to treat you. But most importantly, don’t leave things unsaid if they are really important. It’s no one's job to try and read your mind. Frankness makes for deeper connections.
2. Distinguish between the job vs. the work.
Most people have to have a job - for stability, to pay bills, because that’s what we are trained to do through school and college, etc; but don’t let your job stop you from doing your life’s work. You were meant for something greater than following a set of instructions someone else assigned to you. Everyone has entrepreneurial aspirations in them, you just have to be daring, willing and patient to give them a try. Don’t worry about how things will happen, just take one step at a time and you will end up laying a path. Not sure where to start or what to do? Begin with something you already know well - a skill/trade, talent, hobby or an unfulfilled need. You will be keeping busy, but happy and fulfilled.
3. Learn to say no!
First set a goal, then stick with it and evaluate each opportunity against your preset. If whatever is thrown at you doesn’t align with your moral commitments to yourself, then don’t commit to it. Be honest with yourself, as well as your external parties. If you are unable to help, think of someone you trust who can and refer them. If you don’t know anyone else be honest and admit so. Most of the time you ability to say “no” or “I don’t know, but let me find out” earns you more respect than an assumed response. Saying no to opportunities is still the hardest thing for me, but I’ve learned the hard way that zeroing in on a couple of projects is better than stretching yourself thin across too many engagements.
4. Multi-tasking is pure evil!
Just don’t do it. It’s not healthy for your body or mind. Our culture prides itself on having multi-tasking capabilities; it’s an ongoing competition at any corporate office. But it’s also the biggest trap. All you do is produce inefficient, mediocre work, stress yourself out and cause havoc to your nervous system. Do fewer things and do them well. I’ll be a hypocrite to say I’ve mastered this point, but I’m definitely learning and getting better at mono-tasking.
5. You are doing your best!
Aren’t we all our own worst critics?! We rarely give ourselves enough credit for the amazing, dedicated, inspirational and accomplished people we all are. No matter our self-imposed ranking in the food chain that is our society, we are all just equally human and flawed. Perfection is not real. Do yourself a favor and be grateful for simply being here today. Take a moment to express internal gratitude to your mind for working long shifts, to your heart for driving your passion, and your body for being the tireless vehicle that takes on a daily beating. Write a post-it note on your exit/door to look at it every time you are heading out to face the world. Let it remind you that you are doing your best already, and that you are enough.
I am ready for 2016 to be an awesome year with more lessons to be learnt and more obstacles conquered. Most of all, I’m grateful for the 4-day weekend ahead that will be spent in the close circle of people I love most in this world. Wishing you all endless blessings, a tribe that loves you senseless and a happy and healthy New Year!