5 Things I Learned Last Year

Well, hello January 2nd!


For some reason, I find it incredibly hard to believe that a full year has passed. 2013 was one of the busiest years of my life, it was full of hustle and stress and motivation. At times it felt like I was mimicking a horror movie character, fleeing from the horrifying villain (in this case “burn-out” and my endless to-do list). 2013 was a crazy year for me. Coming out of such an intense year makes the beginning of this one so much more exciting. A fresh start, a new job, a whole new calendar to fill in, so many new memories to create, and the opportunity to make better choices using knowledge gained from the stumbles and successes of last year.

I am moving into 2014 with a good outlook on the year to come, and that is in large part to the many things that I learned in the last year. I have narrowed my list down to the five  lessons that impacted me the greatest throughout 2013. Some of them might seem obvious, but when you face them head on in specific life circumstances it becomes all the more important to have learned them well.

Top 5 Lessons of 2013

1. Quiet time is golden
I keep hearing that people are busier now than at any other point in history. I don’t know how much truth there is to that statement, but its not hard to believe. Many of us live busy lives, bouncing between work, family, our social lives, while20140102-073612.jpg still trying to get to the gym or fit in schooling or additional training as well. We work hard, but sometimes we forget to rest hard too. I know I do! I learned this past year that I DO have a limit (you do too, I promise!), and being an introvert I actually hit that limit pretty quick.
It is incredibly important to slow down and leave room to breathe, pray, meditate, stare at the wall or simply clear your head. I think each of us should take a few minutes each day to just be.

2. People are where’s its at
I have a strong tendency to stay home when I could go out with friends or family, and I also happen to be rather terrible at keeping in touch with people. I am a home-body, or a self made hermit, and as a result my life can become lonely very quickly. To make matters worse, this past year I filled my schedule with too many jobs, projects and responsibilities and realized, perhaps a touch too late, that my friends and family were competing with each other to find time to see me. I was penciling people in between meetings, school assignments and working hours and I felt the worst I have ever felt. On top of being tired and stressed, I was lonely and at times even a bit broken.
However, I truly learned this lesson when I lost my Grandma this summer. I realized when we received the call, telling us that she was in the hospital, that I hadn’t actually spoken to her in years…that I couldn’t even really remember her voice. When we received the second call that night, I was devastated to realize that I had missed the opportunity to truly get to know her, to show her that I loved her, and to glean knowledge and history from an amazing woman. This is a regret. But more than that, it is a regret worth learning from.

Humans are relational creatures. If you don’t have people, if you don’t love people, if you don’t help people, if you don’t know people, if you don’t share life with people…nothing that you do will have any meaning. Why are you working so hard, to put that money in the bank, if it will not help you spend time with your family, share moments with great friends, offer a helping hand to someone who doesn’t have a great job like you do? Trust me when I say, people are where its at.

3. Media has more influence than we admit
I realized for the first time this year how much power the media has over us. It became clear to me that everything I let into my brain has some sort of directional pull and if not consumed with a filter, can actually have a negative effect. I love action movies, monster movies, psychological thrillers and crime drama television shows. There is intrigue and intensity that isn’t found in other types of movies.  However, my favorite movies often include a lot of less than desirable topics that have been glorified for the purpose of the film. When not watched with at least some filter, we are allowing violence, sex, criminal acts and horror into our heads with the message that these things are cool, powerful, exciting…etc. I have found myself pondering these things in my own mind, in day dreams and writings of my own and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing (obviously they make for a good story)…if these things have enough pull to change the way I write, what other people or topics in the media are taking residence in my head and telling me to think differently?

Every so often, its good to take a step back and see what you are putting into your mind. To take stock of what kind of effect it has on your personality, choices and self-talk. You don’t necessarily have to walk away from your favorite movies or TV shows, stop watching commercials, or listening to your favorite music…but its worth it to make sure you are consuming with an active mind.

4.  There is always another job, but you only have one life
I quit my job last month. A job that I had worked for three and a half years at. A job that I had sacrificed time and money to take approximately 2 years of extra schooling for. A job that I thought could carry me through to a comfortable life, into a career perhaps, or allow me to find a job in almost any community I may find myself living. The truth is, while it was a great job and the woman I worked for was a great woman, and I received plenty of praise for becoming a legal secretary so early in life…I was bored, and I was tired, and I was stressed, and I was miserable. It took me over a year to come to terms with quitting this job I had worked so damn hard for, but when I finally put my notice in, it was because I had decided that there was no job on the planet that was worth feeling miserable, bored, and purpose-less for the majority of my day, if I had a choice in the matter.

20140102-074045.jpgI am lucky, because there was another great job for me to go to that encompasses many of my passions. I am starting my new position at my church, full time, on Monday and I couldn’t be more enthusiastic about this new adventure.There is always another job somewhere out there…but you only have one life to live. I would rather work to live, rather than live to work  (if I can help it).

(Please note that I am not recommending that you quit your job without having a solid, and smart game plan to follow. I knew I had another job to go to, and also that I could survive for a while without a job. Please be smart…don’t quit a job that is supporting your family, mortgage payments, etc, without knowing you will still be able to support the necessities in your life.)

5. Dreaming is the gateway to so many great things
Never, ever stop dreaming. When you stop dreaming, stop thinking up crazy ideas and hoping for impossible things, you stop moving. I am an ideas person. I am consistently coming up with new ideas. Some are crazy. Some are realistic. Some are so crazy that they just might work. Not all of them will come full circle and be turned into goals that can be accomplished. Some of them might have to be changed and reworked through out the process, but they are all worth something. They keep your mind active, constantly thinking of the new possibilities and opportunities for change and growth. They are motivation and creativity combined.

Dreams are the seed planted that sprouts into a goal to be tended. You cannot go anywhere if you are unable to dream, don’t let a failed idea or a difficult lesson paralyze you! When you look back on the terrifying things you walked through, the moments of uncertainty and goals you thought you might never accomplish, you will realize that you are stronger than you knew and capable of bigger things than you ever could have expected.


I have learned much in 2013, and I am looking forward to moving forward with these lessons at the forefront of my mind.

Happy January 2nd!



PS: What were some of the biggest lessons you learned in 2013? Please share in the comments…I would love to hear from you!


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