01/08 Life

What I Learned in 2018

Happy New Year and welcome back from what I hope was a rejuvenating holiday break. Normally I jump into dreaming up what I want the new year to be, but the reflective mood came over me, specifically one night at 1AM waking me out of half-sleep and forcing me to get up and write down my thoughts. I wish I could access that energy at will, but I’ll take interrupted sleep over hours of sitting at my desk pulling teeth over writer’s block (my arch nemesis!)

At the end of every year the prevailing theme is burnout, and the end of 2018 was the worst I’ve ever felt it. Actually all of last year I carried that feeling with me to some degree, and writing this post is an attempt at figuring out why.

2018 was the year of overthinking. I felt depleted and overly concerned with outside validation. Buzz words like ‘strategy’, ‘growth’, and ‘engagement’ dictated choices I made and how I spent my time. No business that wants to survive can ignore these things, but tending to them can frankly suck. For me it turns into an unhealthy and unattainable pursuit of perfection.

I’ve known myself to thrive under pressure, though I hate it and feel like dying when I’m under it, but last year I felt the pressure causing me to shrink back. I have a bad habit of focusing only on what I haven’t done vs. what I’ve already done, and it adds a lot of unnecessary weight on my back.

Disappointment in myself fed into the negativity, which made me continue to shrink back and become less confident in what I was doing. You saw this in the form of me posting much less frequently on the blog, and what you didn’t see was my constant second-guessing over everything I did and paralyzing indecision over what to do next in my search for creative fulfillment.

My internal voice saying everything I do isn’t good enough is my biggest monster, and in facing it I’m moving forward with this reminder: Second guessing yourself can sometimes be a helpful warning, but more often, especially in the context of creativity, it’s fear. Plain ol’ stupid fear. I resolved long ago to follow fear as a sign that I’m stretching outside my walls, or am in need of doing so, and headed towards something exciting that I can grow from, and last year I forgot all about that. The only thing in my way was me!!

Going into the new year now confronting this, I want to lead with these confirmations:

1 | What makes you unique and interesting is when you just be. Don’t overthink it. Don’t do things out of trying to predict what will be favorable. Go back to what makes you excited and come alive. Share about it all. Lean deeper into who you are, and be more of it. Be your true and happy self.

2 | Success, progress, or self betterment doesn’t have to involve massive changes and constantly reinventing yourself.  Stay consistent and do that one thing you want to do as best as you can.

Life is not a list of accomplishments or a challenge to do as many different things possible in a short amount of time.  Anything worthwhile takes focused energy, and while I’ve long romanced the sentiment behind “doing it all”, experience has always proved that this quest ends in self-sabotage.  

Nurturing what you already have isn’t being stagnant or unambitious as long as it’s something really important to you.  It’s enough of a goal to continue the path you’re already on if you trust it will get you where you want to be. If it feels wrong, don’t be afraid to look for what feels right. Start with a small change in a different direction and see if you feel better. Let your evolution unfold at its own pace.

Small daily habits compound into something greater if you stick with them long enough. Rewarding achievements commonly have the same back story involving doing the same things over and over for a while to get better at them. What’s seen as tedious is, on the flip side, a mastering of your craft and at least a better understanding of what you want, you just have to keep going.

Keep going!

8 comments on “What I Learned in 2018”

  1. Thank you, Amy, for your courage and heart, and for having the ability to put your experiences and thoughts into words that speak to each of us. Your inquiry encourages me to be sit quietly, calmly, and patiently with the unknown, uncomfortable, and struggle, as it just might be the way to my being able to live a more real and connected life, (and yes, thank you, Amy) welcoming fear as a guidepost instead of something to dread and avoid at any cost (the price is now thankfully too high). Your post inspires me to embrace all of it as best I can–the happy and sad, easy and hard, popular and unpopular. I am relieved and grateful to accept that I am human and vulnerable, just like everyone else, with nothing to prove, compare myself with, or outdo except to follow what is in my heart. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us. Wishing you a new year of wonder, life’s magic, and resetting newly in a way that inspires and enlivens you whatever that is. Excited and humble to be starting the year on the road less traveled…(from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”). Thank you for the inspiration, Amy!

  2. Hi Amy,
    I just want you to know that I read this and that I always look forward to your posts. I think you have a beautiful gift! Be encouraged!
    Ronnie xo

  3. Reading this – as I was stirred awake thinking of similar things and flipping through Instagram – felt like a letter I had written to myself. I relate to so much of this! 2018 was the year of “too much” for me. Loved this encouragement. Love following you! Thanks for sharing your heart on this!

  4. So true what you said. Don’t mess with others, look what you achieved and not what is missing.
    We should all make the best out of this what we already have and not always try to make new things or get bigger. Every new Year it’s all about plans and new achievements, reaching more. Why not only waiting for the things that come.
    Many greetings Kathrin

  5. This are true words that worth counting. Change and growth shouldn’t have to come into big scale. It’s a tiny steps counted one-by-one. Have a great year!

  6. I really enjoy your blog posts as I’m a black and white lover. What can you tell us about those chairs featured in the deck photo at the top of this post?

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