I really don’t get why everyone harshed on 2016 so much. Was everyone’s year really that bad? Mine was awesome. Josh and I continued to grow, change, evolve, have another baby, travel, learn, etc, etc. I felt like I grew in leaps and bounds. I feel like the 2015 version of me was a tiny baby, and the new me is actually starting to turn into a real adult.
Here are 10 awesome things I learned or realized in 2016:
#1. Burn-out is a real thing. I really had no idea. I thought when people talked about burn-out, that they were just being lame cop-outs. “I’m so burnt-out, I need a vacation!” Oh boo hoo! Anyway, I didn’t go on a vacation or take a break for 3 years, growing my business and having baby after baby with no breaks. Yep, I’m hardcore. Then later, all of the sudden, I sold all my stuff and ran away in a 5th wheel camper. So yeah, I’d say burn-out exists. Ignore it, and you may just find yourself living in a camper with 3 babies. Just saying.
#2. Prioritize quadrant II tasks, and limit quadrant I, III, and IV. This is probably the most important and life changing thing I’ve learned in the past few months, or maybe years, hands down. A more intelligent way to approach “time management.” This is from the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” which is basically the best book ever written. Since reading this book, everything in my life has completely changed. High praise, I know. In summary, quadrant II tasks are things that actually matter in your life, but that most people typically ignore. I really, really, really, want you to read the book. Stop reading my blog post. And go buy the book.
#3. Your environment matters. This is another one that I aways thought was bunk. Who cares what your workspace looks like? Or what you wear? Or what house you live in? All that stuff is superficial bullshit. Right? Well, yes, and no. It is superficial, so don’t let it take over you. However – humans have extremely fragile minds. We are easily manipulated and influenced by really dumb and unimportant things including our environments and how things look. Meaning, if you work in a trashy office, you are just not going to be as confident as if you worked in a classy and modern high rise. If you don’t take a shower and wear your PJ’s, you won’t be as productive as when you take a shower and put on your favorite outfit that you look daaamn fine in. Sorry, but if you’re human, this is the way it is.
#4. Traveling is special, but not in the way I thought. I always picture travel like in a magazine. You go somewhere wonderful, everything is perfect, you look gorgeous, and then you have some kind of major life epiphany and when you return home you are a changed person.
In reality, you go somewhere, there are a million other tourists there bumping into you and taking your parking spot, and then everyone is taking selfies. It can actually be kind of empty and irritating.
Its not really about “opening your mind” or having a life changing moment (because you can do this without travel) and its definitely not about bragging rights (because no one gives a crap where you have been). I don’t even think travel is that great for creating an immense amount of perspective – and I think in some cases it can make people even more close minded than they already are (depending on the person and the purpose of the trip).
I think the most important thing is just that travel creates lasting memories. This is important to me and a major part of my life mission statement. I want to have many wonderful memories to take with me into old age. I won’t remember each day that I woke up, took my kids to school, and then went to work. But I will remember the places we traveled to, and the adventures we had.
#5. Trust my gut. Oh man. This is a big one. This one really just comes down to confidence. There have been a handful of decisions (one decision in particular) that I knew from the beginning was the wrong move, yet I let external forces cloud my judgement and convince me otherwise. These kind of mess-ups are very annoying, because if only I had gone with my gut, these mistakes would be avoided.
#6. Decision fatigue is awful and must be avoided at all costs. As CEO of our company, and mother of 3 kids, I have to make about a bazillion decisions each and every day. Can my 2 year old take two stuffed animals to school today? What will we pack for lunch? What should my 4 year old bring for show and tell?What do I wear (this is one of my most hated decisions)? Where is the baby’s binky? By the time I start work, I’m already exhausted. What is my focus for the day? How will I prioritize my clients? Who will I hire? What should my employees be working on? Part of keeping decision fatigue at bay is being willing to relinquish control, as well as being good at outsourcing. It is a work-in-progress for me.
You can expect that very soon, I will wear a uniform. I’m tired of deciding what to wear. Its too time consuming and annoying. I am going to wear the same thing every day, so that this no longer haunts me. Just imagine how much decision power is wasted by making difficult wardrobe choices each day, shopping, trying on clothes, and figuring out accessories to mix and match. Now imagine what you could be achieving instead with all that fantastic mind power.
#7. Fluff is everywhere, but it creates a huge opportunity for those who provide real value. Most business conferences are fluff, most bloggers are fluff (rehashing the same content over and over). Most employees are fluff (they work only to a small percentage of their total potential). Nearly all business to business agencies are fluff (they provide products and services that don’t really impact your bottom line). I decided to stop being so annoyed at all the “fluff” people and businesses who are out there. It is definitely an inconvenience to have to sift through a bunch of lame garbage every time I want to do anything – but it makes it so that its actually WAY easier to succeed when you’re provided something that is of true value – because no one else really is. You might perceive that everyone is doing what you want to do better than you, but they’re probably not.
#8. Networking IS important. I thought networking was fluff. And a lot of it really is. Most people are out for themselves (selfishly motivated) and won’t become an integral part of your life or business. But there are unicorns out there, and I want to meet them and be their friend.
#9. Entrepreneurs rule the world. Seriously, the more I think about it, the more obvious it is. If you want to be successful, if you want to have influence, if you want to make good money – be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs are leaders, innovators, inventors, and they also mold the face of our society. Drive a car? That was created by an entrepreneur. Fly in an airplane? Invented by some ballsy entrepreneurs. That company you work for? Yep, at the top of that pyramid is a creative entrepreneur. The clothes you’re wearing? Every fashion statement was created by some random entrepreneur. Do you enjoy travel? The entire idea of travel, tourist destinations, wonders of the world, visiting new restaurants, excursions, scuba diving – all of it was founded by entrepreneurs. Everything is possible for you today, because of other entrepreneurs who have made it possible.
#10. Everyone wants to be heard and understood. This is the most important lesson of all. I started thinking about how important this is as I was analyzing the Facebook posts of all my friends. Each post I read, I would ask myself, “Why did they post this? What was their motivation? What do they expect to get out of it? What is the point?” Then I started asking myself the same questions every time I was inclined to post something. People want to be acknowledged. They want to be understood. They want to feel heard. They want to feel special. We yearn for this.
When you’re fighting with a loved one, its because you feel like your feelings or opinions are not being understood. When you’re posting an update on Facebook, its because you want others to hear you and care about what you are doing. When you’re lecturing someone about politics, you are wanting others to understand you and see your side.
We don’t know why we are all here. Its confusing. Its scary.
So we just want to know that we are important, in some way, to someone. One of the most simple ways to make someone feel important and special, is just to acknowledge and understand them. Unfortunately, we do this for each other very rarely! The outcome is that we are all constantly begging for attention and calling out. I think that very few are truly satisfied with the results.
The best gift you can give to someone, is to really listen to them. Ask them questions. Find out what they care about, and put yourself in their shoes, so you can really feel and understand their perspective.