Jan 4, 2018

7 Things I Learned in 2017 and Looking Ahead to 2018

Maybe it’s a sign that I’m getting older, but I can’t believe yet another year has gone by. I feel good about 2017 though, mostly because of some things I learned:

What I Learned in 2017

1. I live with a lot of fear, especially fear of what other people think or might think. I fear failure, and I fear looking like an idiot. But I also realized that lots of other people live with the same fears.

2. I can live with my fear and be brave. Once I acknowledged my fear, it became easier to proceed anyway. More on this below.

3. I am happiest when I am growing. Gretchen Rubin’s First Splendid Truth of Happiness is that "To be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth." That last part has always felt especially true for me. And a big part of growing is acting in spite of my fears. So by learning new things and being brave, I’ve really boosted my happiness.

4. Take small steps. The famous Lao Tzu quote that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" was reinforced to me this year, especially because my tentative small steps may be an easy leap for someone else, and vice versa.

5. I need external accountability. If you haven't taken Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies Quiz, you should! I've known for a while now that I'm an Obliger, but her new book all about the tendencies really helped me understand myself (and my family members) better. I've really struggled with creating external accountability that doesn't drive me nuts, though, so that is something I am going to work on in 2018.

6. Death is never easy, but leaving behind an unorganized life makes it harder. As I mentioned a couple of months ago, my aunt passed away, and although she had been ill, she clearly hadn't expected to die so soon. Our family has struggled with figuring out her financial situation (locating accounts, separating personal records from business records, dealing with her possessions, etc.). I currently have a Word document to keep track of our important records, but over the course of this next year, I want to transition to an easier-to-navigate spreadsheet.

7. My kids don't need to be best friends. The best parenting books I read in 2017 were Siblings Without Rivalry and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, both by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I fervently wish I'd had How to Talk when my kids were little, but the thought-process and strategies were still helpful with my tweens. Siblings Without Rivalry dramatically changed my perspective and cut down on the bickering/fighting that my boys had been doing.

I can't end this post without acknowledging the three women who were my greatest teachers this year:

Gretchen Rubin, whose podcast with her sister is my favorite thing to listen to. Find Gretchen at GretchenRubin.com.

Rachel Macy Stafford, who has made me a better parent as well as a better person. Because of her, I (mostly) remember to enjoy the moments when my sons are ready to be with me, even if it's not exactly convenient. Her willingness to be vulnerable never ceases to amaze me. Find Rachel at HandsFreeMama.com.

Brené Brown, whose latest book, Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone, taught, inspired, and comforted me in equal measure. Find Brené at BrenéBrown.com.

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