Most people look back on the past year and review their business financials or their life goals.
I don’t want to do that.
I want to review what I’ve learned.
Not how much I’ve earned, or what I’ve achieved, but what did I actually learn last year?
Because life boils down to the lessons we’ve learned doesn’t it?
And I can feel Oprah smiling down on me as I write this ????
Here are my lessons, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Lesson #1: Sometimes we have to look through the darkness to see the stars ????
I remember before I had my son, my yoga teacher and mentor once said to me ‘It’s not for sissy’s’! Parenting, she meant. She dished out those words of wisdom with a smile that inferred she’d been through some crap to be able to say that.
I now get what she meant. Wow that first year. ROLLER COASTER. Definitely not all bad. Some incredibly beautiful moments that smashed my heart into a million pieces, but then equally sucky moments where I wanted to crumple up into a tiny ball and not exist anymore (sleep deprivation will do that to you).
During this tumultuous ride on the mamma rollercoaster I learned that:
“The true measure of a person is not how they are when things are going great, but how they respond when pushed to their limits.”
I can definitely say, hand on heart there were moments in 2018 when I FAILED MISERABLY at this big time. I was pushed to my limits and I did not find a positive or act kindly or catch myself in time to stop many an emotional outburst.
But what I learned is that that’s OK. It’s OK to be a hot mess from time to time. It’s OK to have a melt down. It’s OK to experience human emotions like sadness and grief and frustration. Without these emotions, we’re not, well, human!
And honestly, I’m so over the whole positive pollyanna personal development scene for pitching this whole ‘life can be perfect all the time’ crap. It’s not true people! Ask any Yogi and they’ll explain the concept of duality to you over a nice hot cup of chai. Good, bad. Up, down. Happy, sad. You can’t have one without the other. And they’re all valid human experiences.
So 2018 was a year for embracing my shadow and learning to love myself through the dark times because: sometimes we have to look through the darkness to see the stars. True story.
Quick Caveat: This doesn’t mean wallowing. no. no. no. It just means allowing yourself to FEEL FEELINGS for a bit and then find a way to keep going.
I did also have some amazing AHA moments around how to do handle huge obstacles with grace…they’re in lesson #5.
Lesson #2: How grateful I am for my life ????????
Luckilly for me, I set my business up pre-baby in 2016 so it had a passive income stream to pay the bills without me having to do a lot. Newsflash: passive income does not mean zero work people. It means doing A LOT of work upfront so you can then do less work once you find the sweet spot. This did mean that when I was pregnant and bed-bound for 8 weeks, the money still came in. While I was vomiting in the bathroom cursing my earth goddess hormones, the bills were getting paid. Then, when beautiful baby Winston came along, I could still devote myself to him for an entire year and a half, all while still getting paid.
I am SO GRATEFUL FOR THIS. Disclaimer: that passive income stream is no longer active (contrary to popular belief they don’t magically go on forever), so I’m working on other things, but it did provide my entire family with a salary for over 2 years. I think I’ll do an entire post on this soon because peeps ask me a lot about this.
The lesson is ~ I’m grateful that I had the foresight to set up my business in a way that saw it providing for my family during this important transition.
Lesson #3: Sometimes the best way to achieve progress is to do nothing ????
I haven’t mentioned this before, but I had some pretty heavy emotional things pop up for me in 2018. I may or may not go into this in more detail in future posts. I haven’t decided yet as I’m still processing a lot of it. But what I found during this time was that even though my impulse was to keep on powering through work, what I actually needed to do, was pause.
Sometimes we think that the route to progress is to do more, be more, achieve more. Sometimes, the answer actually lies in a mystical pause. A moment to process, to just be and trust that instead of trying to force something, the answer will come at the right time.
As a Type A achiever, this is literally THE HARDEST THING EVER for me to do. But I did my best to practice it this year. The skill lies in knowing when to pause and when to take action. It’s like this beautiful dance between rest and activity. Nature, I have a feeling, is pretty good at nailing this balance ????
Lesson number 4: pretending to be someone you’re not is SO DRAINING ????
I knew this years ago from my experience in corporate. I remember feeling SO TIRED at the end of each day because I had to constantly filter everything I said to fit into the mould of how I ‘should act’. Starting my own business was like a huge breath of fresh air! I could finally breath again and just be me! This year the same lesson revisited me through my emotional dramas. For a large part of the year I was hiding this aspect of me because I only wanted to appear to others as a successful person. I didn’t want to admit that I was feeling sadness and other negative feelings.
What I learned was, this is another way of pretending. And it really drains you of energy. And as a mamma, energy is the number one currency. So, I learned a lot more about being authentic and vulnerable (maybe you read this super vulnerable post I wrote).
My biggest AHA moment from this was that it’s really liberating to open yourself up and surprisingly, people connect with you MORE when you’re vulnerable. I was shocked by all the emails that came flooding in after I wrote that post. I guess ultimately, we’re all the same: Humans on hotel planet earth with our own struggles. No one escapes the struggle. Not the Dalai Lama, not Oprah, not Richard Branson. NO ONE.
Lesson number 5: Embrace the struggle ????
Following on nicely from number 4, if no one escapes the struggle then what’s the answer? To embrace it. I’ve been experimenting with learning to see struggle as a positive. The book that helped me do this THE MOST was ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ by Ryan Holiday. It’s about challenging yourself to see your obstacles as THE SOLUTIONS. Pretty big head-flip I know. But imagine if you could turn ALL YOUR STRUGGLES into SOLUTIONS, then wow, that there is the answer. I’m sure of it.
So I’ve been practicing this. And let me tell you, it’s damn hard. And I screw it up all the time. It just keeps on catching me out. But I know with practice, it will come. It reminds me of one of my teachers talking about how the ancient yogi’s would look at challenges as ‘diamonds’, glistening jewels to be savoured, because, this is how we learn people! We don’t learn much when everything’s going well do we? Those big life lessons are when we’re writhing in pain in the gutter.
Lesson number 6: It’s all about family ❤️
On 19 May 2017 my son Winston came into the world. And so a new family was born. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have children, so I was curious about what kind of mother I’d be. I thought maybe I’d find the nappies and domestic part of motherhood a chore and I’d be chomping at the bit to get back to work. Nope. Not what happened. I just wanted to be with my baby. That whole year and a half, all I wanted was to be with him, to be there for him, to protect him. I can’t explain it. And I totally respect every mother’s decisions around work, our paths are all so different, none better than the other, but for me, my focus shifted from work to him.
This did mean sacrificing business growth for a few years, but I’m OK with that. And to point number 3, I’m trusting the timing of life more. Last year was about baby, this year will be a bit more about work. And I’m so, so, fortunate that I was able to set my business up in a way that’s allowed me to prioritise my new family. I guess this was one of the main reasons I wanted to start a business in the first place. It was never about making millions, but about the freedom and flexibility this would lend me. For me, business is about having the flexibility to manage your life how YOU want it to be. And also doing something meaningful. Those are the two biggies for me. Maybe you agree?
OK that’s it for now, I’m sure there’s more, but in the spirit of self-love, and anti-perfectionism, I’m going to leave it there.
Maybe you want to take a moment to reflect on what lessons you learned in 2018? Let me know in the comments below. Maybe your wisdom will help someone else out who’s struggling with that very same problem. We’re all in this together so let’s join forces.⚡️
Sending you so much love for 2019!
Zoe B xxx