It was challenging. It was eventful. It was confusing. It was hectic and crazy. It was wonderful. It was a blessing. It was quite a year! I’m grateful to have experienced it and for the wisdom shared along the way. In no particular order, here is just a handful of lessons that 2017 taught me.
- Change what needs to be changed. You are not a tree, if you don’t like something then move! Instead of continuing to complain about things I didn’t like, I decided to change them. One big one was my job aka a full on career switch. Real estate school, a great connection through a friend, and an interview made all the difference.
- I think about me way more than other people think about me. Go ahead and be bold. Speak your mind without fear of what people will think. Because if we’re honest, we’re thinking about ourselves too much to overthink others. Right?? That may sound a bit harsh, but it’s also freeing. When we’re not so worried about what everyone is thinking of us, we can move forward and stay true to who we are.
- If I want a community, I may need to build it myself. This was a big area for me this year. I craved community right where we are, both location and life stage. People to do life with on the day to day. We got plugged into an incredible community through our church towards the end of 2016 that continued to grow in 2017. That growth has encouraged us to develop more community through a small group for young married couples (just like us!) at the start of the new year. I never imagined that would be possible, but I’m so thrilled about the community we’re building.
- Family is such a gift. This is nothing new, but I appreciate it more and more as I get older. Everything around us may change, but family will always remain. Through losses and more time spent together, I’m realizing more and more what a gift family truly is. If we’re lucky, it’s a built in community of people that will support you, tell you the truth, and love you through it. I’m beyond lucky with my own family and a bonus family through marriage.
- I’m not missing anything. FOMO (fear of missing out) can certainly be real, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m where I’m supposed to be for whatever reason and I feel secure in that. This is especially hard with social media — we can see the moment by moment of what we’re “missing out” on. It may still sting to find out an invite wasn’t sent or I declined a spectacular opportunity, but everything happens for a reason.
- Short term sacrifice is worth it! This ties into #5. Maybe an invitation was declined due to financial reasons, to save money towards a larger goal. It sucks to have to say no to things we really want to do, but it feels so good once those larger goals are accomplished. People miss their big goals because they aren’t willing to give up the smaller things right now. Immediate gratification versus lasting fulfillment. Which would you rather have?
- Sometimes a day full of pajamas and Netflix are just what I need. It’s okay to not make progress sometimes. Working hard without rest leads to burnout. Sometimes a brain break is needed. If that’s the case, don’t feel guilty about it. You’ll be able to come back stronger and make even more progress after taking a brief break.
- Confidence is key. Act confident and no one will question you. That pretty much sums it up. Going into a new career means I was inexperienced and that made me feel inadequate at times. But I was eager to learn and not afraid to admit I was new or ask for help. People trust as confidence grows.
- Traditions are important and it’s fun to be creating our own. I love traditions! There’s something special about something year after year. It builds bonds and provides things to look forward to. Being married with our own home, it’s been fun to create our own traditions as well. It’s taking time for us to figure everything out, but traditions are being born and strengthened.
- Time spent appreciating and praising others is well worth it. I know that I could never hear “thank you” or genuine compliments too much. Words of affirmation are my love language. Even if that isn’t one of yours, I still think people love being appreciated! We’re busy and many times we may not notice, but it’s important to slow down and take the time to acknowledge the greatness in others, big or small. It really matters.
- Make appointments before I leave and don’t forget to write them down. It’s not a good idea to leave an appointment without making a future one. This goes for all ongoing appointments: dentist, eye doc, eyebrow wax, hair, etc. It’s so much easier to reschedule if an appointment doesn’t work instead of having to make a new one. I always underestimate the amount of time that’s gone by and then I end up scrambling to fit one in or having to book even more weeks out because they’re full. Book the future appointment before I leave, hold onto the appointment reminder card, put the time in my planner, and reschedule if something doesn’t work.
- Busyness is not a badge of honor. Being busy used to make me feel important. Like I was needed. I can still feel that way, but deep down I know that being “busy” probably just means I’ve overcommitted myself. I shouldn’t be too busy for the things that matter most. If I am, then I need to do some readjusting in my world.
- No is a complete sentence. Not everything deserves an explanation. Sometimes the answer is just “no” and that’s all. No need to feel guilty or feel responsible for getting into all the details.
- Contentment is crucial. As a recovering shopaholic, contentment wasn’t always in my vocabulary. I used to crave more and more things, I guess to fill a void. Or maybe it was the thrill of the purchase. Contentment (in hand with minimalism) has helped me shake that idea of needing more and allows me to be happy with the things I already have. We’re insanely blessed. Anything else is just extra. I’m focusing more on only having things that bring me joy and make our lives easier. Contentment is so good for our finances, our clutter (or lack thereof), and our lives.
- Time with God is everything. I made my relationship with God a focus this year and I experienced the positive change. This time — whether it’s a church service, sermon on a podcast, prayer, devotional — centers me and helps me to set my eyes on the most important thing. I’m left full of gratitude and joy. Jesus is at the middle of our marriage and as we draw closer to Him, we actually draw closer to each other as well. We are stronger, kinder, better humans because we know that we’re sinners, but we’ve been given the ultimate grace, strength and love from our Heavenly Father. God is good!
- Some of the best memories happen far away or right at home. We absolutely love traveling! We’ve caught the travel bug years ago and try to get away as much as we can. Experiencing new places, meeting new people, trying new foods. It’s the best! We traveled a lot for the first half of the year (Vegas, Punta Cana, Charlottesville, Charleston just to name a few!). So many stories — some of my favorite moments ever happened so far away! The travels slowed down the second half of 2017 due to classes and job changes, but we made wonderful memories here at home as well. Memories of decorating the house for Christmas, entertaining friends on our deck, many nights unwinding with Netflix on the iPad. Don’t discount the moments that seem ordinary.
- The best is (still) yet to come! I sincerely believe the best is yet to come. Sometimes it may seem like our “best” has already happened. The dream job, the wedding day, the birth of a child. But our greatest days are always ahead. Always.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
What lessons did 2017 teach you? I’d love to read them in the comments below.
We can learn and lift each other up! I’m excited for the lessons that 2018 has in store! It’s going to be an amazing year. Thank you being with me <3