As I was reflecting about what's next and the projects I want to accomplish this year, I came across this post by Felicia Day about five things of 2010 in my feed.
In it, she reviews her year. And as these things go, by sharing her lessons, she managed to inspire similar thoughts and connect with others.
I related particularly to #1 and #3 on her list -- improv and listening to your gut will save your life, and indeed it has numerous times and will yet, and knowing yourself is your greatest strength.
I've been very lucky, because since quite a young age, I've sought time on my own and got to appreciate myself, including my limits. Many things I gravitated to helped: being a bookworm, long distance running, and yes, even not having money to go out.
When I really want to do something, I write it down. Same when I want to remember for future reference. After reading Felicia's post, I thought that my own review would also help you, or inspire you to do the same.
What I learned this past year
(1.) If you want to really do it, write it down and hold yourself to it.
I've been a vegetarian most of my life, and recently introduced fish in my diet to get more proteins, especially when I travel. Add regular exercise to eating healthy, including avoiding carbohydrates and grains, and you'd think I'm ahead of the curve.
In the summer, when I made the change from the client to the agency side, I decided that it was time to put that weight gained from stress behind (no pun intended). So I bought a digital scale, and started writing down the calories of everything I eat.
A colleague had done that years ago. I thought I had a handle on things, and took a cavalier attitude to what I was eating. You won't be surprised to learn that holding myself to figuring out my caloric intake and where it needed to be got me the desired results -- through the simple act of writing it down, I revealed the facts.
My energy level shot up, and the results gave me additional incentive to exercise more and eat better.
(2.) Doing things you feel in your gut means also facing your fears.
This is a broader conversation than fear of failing. There are plenty of ways to fail and come out on top. This is about fear of succeeding. I would venture to say that every single time I've been on the verge of really doing something remarkable, I've somehow sabotaged myself.
Either by accepting the version of things someone else suggested, or the vision they put forth. In a couple of very important instances this past year, I held myself back from doing the right thing for me. I believe you don't have to "buy into" what anyone else says, especially when you know in your gut that it's in their best interest, and not yours -- indignant blog posts about the industry included.
It is especially important to know this if you are a woman or someone who desires to be liked by everyone. You will be exhausted before you can even guess how to please everyone. Do right by your own compass, and worry less about what others think. They are responsible for their thoughts, not you.
The whole being social creatures plays tricks on you here. You want to get along and go along...
(3.) Being yourself is the hardest part.
Naturally, these lessons all flow together and are not just about this past year. However, I got the chance to see them more clearly in the last twelve months. And amazingly enough, I continue to be challenged with acting as myself as my hardest role.
It's not that I don't see myself as good company, or charming and funny when appropriate, and modest. I also have bad days, like all of you. Stepping out from behind how others see you or think of you and your role is quite hard. And being yourself often means accepting to be present in the moment, and not worry about being perfect.
I mean, there is no time to carefully edit what you say and do when you're present. You also end up feeling things a lot more closely and being vulnerable -- in business as in life. I've given this a lot of thought because I'm a born leader and that has been hard to accept for many over the years.
Think about it, born in a country where a man still puts his metaphorical or physical hands on your behind in public and nobody finds it weird. Well, I did at twelve, in my first job, when I just folded my hat and walked out of the place. Or that time I had the hard conversation with the owner of the club where I was working who thought I was for sale.
And I would walk out and away if someone where to try and push me around or control me at work. This is the same kind of misunderstanding. Yes, some business people don't understand that your soul belongs to you, they or the organization don't own you for merely working there.
Ironically, when you can be yourself, you operate at a totally awesome level, where you give 300% and the creative juices are just flowing.
Growth is fueled by who we were before. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be proud of what I see. And I think I can accomplish that by adding to the world, not taking from someone else. I'll be writing more about leadership and influence in the more expansive meaning of the term this year. As they're both on my agenda for what's next.
Hope there are things you have accomplished and done in the past year that help you with what's next. I believe that taking care of your interior self prepares you to be even more resilient with challenges and energized in facing them. What did you learn in 2010?