10 Things I Learned In 2014:
1. There is no personal life and professional life. There's just life.
For over thirty years I've taken pride in my ability to balance my personal vs. professional life. This year I made a conscious decision to stop categorizing my life. After all, the things that make me happy personally also improve my professional effectiveness and vice-versa. This simple realization has had an amazingly liberating effect.
2. Encore careers are more satisfying with absolute clarity.
When I started my business in 2008, I knew in general what kind of work I excelled at and I focused on that. In 2014 I further clarified my desires and refined my scope of work based on my passion and the bodies of work that nourished my soul. I no longer enter into client agreements thinking "I must do ..." or "I should...". My mental model is now much more compelling thanks to the time I took finding clarity.
3. Whole-hearted collaboration really is needed everywhere.
Helping unions and management work more effectively together and achieve mutually shared interests has allowed me to see opportunities and successes in a variety of settings. By shedding my internal compartmentalization of life (see lesson #1), I have seen that sincere, whole hearted collaboration would make everything better - committees, governments (at any level), board meetings, church groups, neighborhoods, families...I actually can't think of a situation that it would not improve. There is an abundance of opportunities for improvement which leads me to the next lesson.
4. There is a right way to say no.
It was critical after lessons #2 and #3 that I figure this out. Saying no has always been personally challenging for me and saying no while trying to build a business was especially difficult. I actually created templates for myself to use in face-to-face situations as well as in writing that would communicate a gracious, respectful, and honest response while also effectively closing the door to work that does not fulfill my wants and needs.
5. Having grandchildren is the only thing in life that is not over-rated.
It's true. Enough said.
6. No matter where I am in life, I need mentors and teachers.
I have found that I have an on-going need for information and education to help me rise above the noise of life. So I do things like listen to TED talks weekly and make appointments to chat with friends, colleagues, and thought partners frequently. I'm better when I tune into others in some way.
7. When the opportunity arises for my whole family to be in one place, I grab hold.
My children are married professionals with successful and busy lives - the chances that our schedules will mesh constantly get slimmer. So, when they do, I have learned to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
8. After all these years, I'm still in love with my camera.
I put my camera down during the busiest time of life. I took a class in 2014 (in a desire to fulfill lesson #6) and I wondered why I ever strayed. My instructor challenged me to take a picture every single day. I found that by taking photos of our everyday life instead of waiting for the posed and perfect images not only improved my skills as a photographer but opened my eyes to all the little things I love about my life. The picture a day challenge is one I will continue in 2015.
9. Don't underestimate rest.
When I left my corporate role, my husband and I discussed buying a place in the country where we could retreat for peace and quiet. While thinking about real estate, we purchased a little vintage travel trailer. What I have learned through our camping trips is the path to peace and quiet is quite simply, rest. Our travelling home away from home provides me with peace and quiet as well as the added bonus of beautiful scenery and adventures if we choose to seek them.
10. I'm happiest when I actively practice gratitude.
I've always been a positive person and felt grateful for all of my blessings. I've taken on a more active practice of gratitude that has enriched my life. My new attitude is that I don't have to like what's happening in the moment to be grateful for it on some level. This mix of gratefulness for the not so good in addition to the good has made me overall more content.
So, there are the highlights of what I've learned this year - what about you? Specifically identifying my most important lessons from 2014 was a reflection activity that sparked joy and excitement for the coming year. I hope it does the same for you.
Dare To Be More!
January 5, 2014
One of my favorite books is POKE THE BOX by Seth Godin. I received this book in 2011 and every year since then, I pull it out after the first of the year and read the section starting on page 81. It's a short piece that goes like this:
Safe Halloween is not safe. Something bad might happen. In fact, sooner or later, it probably will.
Flying is not safe. You and I both know a dozen or a hundred or a thousand ways an angry person can wreak havoc.
Selling is not safe. You might (in fact you will) be rejected.
Golf is not safe. My grandfather died playing golf.
Speaking up is not safe. People might be offended.
Innovation is not safe. You'll fail. Perhaps badly.
Now that we've got that out of the way, what are you going to do about it? Hide? Crouch in a corner and work as hard as you can to fit in?
That's not safe either.
Might as well do something that matters instead.
I don't know about you, but reading this inspires me. It's the little nudge I need to challenge my thinking about the work I do, why I do it and how I do it.
As you are settling into 2014, I hope that you are doing work that matters, that brings out your best and inspires you. If you are not, I encourage you to spend some time in reflection. Here are some questions I use when pondering my situation:
Think about how you would like 2014 to be better than 2013 and (if it's not too scary) share your insight with others. If you really want to challenge yourself, I encourage you to pick up this book.
Dare to do more in 2014! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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