Lesson 1: This took me a long time to learn, and not necessarily just this year, but I thought it deserved a place on this list because this lesson was finally learned. And that lesson is: if you’re an anxious person, don’t simply accept the anxiety without trying to uncover WHY. Think about the processes, routines, people and tasks in your life that may fuel your anxiety. What makes you worry? What makes you uncomfortable? What do you dread? What makes you unhappy? They could be small interactions; they could be internal or external, but I've learned there's always a reason why.
Lesson 2: Creativity benefits everyone. I don’t care if you’re not a creative person. Being creative unlocks a different part of your brain. I’ve found that out this year. If you’re a person who excels at executive functions (planning, organising, sorting) like me, being creative is a welcome distraction and is one of the only things to help break us out of intense planning and organising cycles when we need it. Creativity doesn’t always have to belong to one of the obvious tasks either, like painting or drawing - sometimes it’s a matter of getting creative in the garden or experimenting with your cooking. Find the thing that you love to do (even if you’re no good at it yet) and work it into your everyday life.
Lesson 3: Reflect on your life often. This is something we all naturally do at this time of year with New Years Resolutions, but how often do you sit down and think about your life trajectory and ponder changes you could make to improve yourself? This is so important! Many people put this off until ‘Monday’ or until they can see a fresh start coming, but evaluating your life consistently will keep you on the right track with your goals, habits and, I believe, even your mental health. Think about what you could do every night between the hours of 8pm and 10pm. Could you turn that Netflix series off and commit to reading a book for half an hour instead, followed by a journalling session or meditation? Could you do some colouring in or plan your garden? There are ways to unwind without technology, believe it or not. Implementing small daily changes will lead you to big results (as I discuss in an upcoming podcast). So consider reflecting and making some changes, whether that’s on December 31st or in July!
Lesson 4: Essentialism. This is a new one for me too. I am NOT an expert, but this is a conversation and a theory I’ve been really interested in lately. It’s the idea that to have a great, happy, and dare I say SUCCESSFUL life, you should concentrate on the things that matter most, and remove the things that don’t. Sometimes that means removing 100 merely good things in order to focus your attention on 3 really great things. It’s about knowing your priority (notice priority is SINGULAR) and finding systems and habits that work towards that. Many believe this leads to a much happier lifestyle not overflowing with the ‘I have to do it all’ mentality, which can lead to a better work-life balance. In my head, I like to think that it’s the emotional version of minimalism: keeping only the things that matter, and rehoming (or delegating tasks to others in this case) and discarding the rest. As I said, this is still pretty new to me, so I’ll keep you posted on how I go with this!
Lesson 5: Set boundaries and choose choice. This sounds a little odd when you first hear it, but you NEED to implement appropriate boundaries for your life. There will be some who don’t agree with the limits you’ve set, but that’s when you need to consider who you’re living for. It’s your life, and you have to live it the way you deem appropriate and right for you. Setting boundaries is just one part of living a wholesome, happy and productive lifestyle (I’d like to think that this concept goes hand-in-hand with essentialism). And choosing choice - this concept basically refers to the fact that when we avoid making a choice, someone else makes it for us by default. Don’t allow others to have this control or influence over decisions that should be yours. You must CHOOSE CHOICE, even when choosing is difficult.
Those are my biggest lessons learned from 2022. There are many other lessons I’ve picked up along the way, but I really wanted to share the biggest and most important ones. Hopefully there are a few things here that resonate with you and encourage you to make some changes in your life for 2023.
Wishing you all so much joy going forward!