“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
– Lao Tzu
As New Year’s Eve approaches in a few hours, and we all finalize our plans to watch the ball drop in Times Square, what I am doing is thinking about how much I’ve done in the last year and what I want to do more of (or try for the first time) in 2014. There is so much I have learned, experienced, enjoyed and didn’t enjoy in 2013 – but all of those things make me who I am today. So many of us use this new year to focus on what they need to “fix” about themselves. Whether it’s to lose weight, quit smoking, eat healthier but there are also some resolutions we should consider that improve us in other ways. So I wanted to share with my readers what I have learned this year and what I am hoping to focus on in the next 12 months. I feel that every year is a chance to turn things around or make them even better, it’s a very positive feeling!
What I learned in 2013:
1. Friendship shouldn’t be a one way street. As we get older, especially if you are now in your 30’s like me, you realize that maintaining friendships can be challenging. Every moves to different towns farther away, people are having babies, getting married, busy with careers etc. But one thing I have found is that friendship shouldn’t really take so much scheduling and planning. If you want to see your friends, invite them to do something. If you want to be involved in their lives then reach out. It can’t always be just one sided and when it is, it doesn’t feel good. My best friend since grammar school and I don’t live super close but we make time to see one another at least bi-weekly and talk almost every day. Why? Because we are both invested in our friendship. And even if you only see some of your friends for big events like baptisms, birthdays or holidays – that’s okay because those are moments you will remember forever with those you care about most. Sometimes there is power in learning that some friends are more like aquaintances and we can’t be disappointed when distance and time grow between you.
2. Value and appreciate your relationship with your parents. As a child whose parents divorced at a very young age I always had the challenge of splitting my time between my mother and my father. As I grew older I developed a different type of relationship with each parent but both were special in their own way. Now that I have a fiance and a future additional family sometimes it gets tough to juggle making time for both of my parents (and step parents) and my future in-laws. Especially when it comes to the holidays, it’s almost impossible to spread the love to everyone. What I have learned though in 2013 is that making time for everyone is so important. I value my relationship with my mother on a different level now than when I was in my 20’s or as a teenager. I guess as we age we realize that time with our parents is so precious and that is something I plan to work on more in the new year.
3. Planning a wedding is not for everyone. As 2013 rolled around it was another year I haven’t started to plan my wedding. We have been engaged for two and a half years now and have not even started to look at venues. Trust me, I get asked ALL the time “so when are you getting married”, “when are you setting a date” and the answer is always the same – “we just don’t know what kind of wedding we want.” The pressure of course has been there but this year thankfully we have decided that when we start to plan we want a very intimate, simple wedding. I guess that I am just not jaded by the billion dollar fairytale wedding industry and the thought of a room of people I don’t even know bothers me. As soon as I begin to think about guestlists, limos, photographers, dj vs. wedding band I think to myself that it’s so not what I want to do right now. I think in the new year we will begin to narrow it down and just plan something we both are comfortable with. This year has shown me that I’d rather have a strong relationship and focus on our life together than just focus on a wedding day. When we are ready to plan we will, but until then nothing has changed and our love is still exactly the same.
4. Learning to respect and take care of my body. Over the last 15 years I haven’t been so kind to my body. I’ve probably taken every diet pill under the sun in my 20’s, was so focused on being skinny and staying that way, ate junk food and got no sleep, didn’t have a healthy body image at all. In 2013 I learned so much about proper nutrition, exercise and overall wellness. I look back on the previous years and don’t know why I was so hard on myself when it came to body image but I know that I had many issues with that. It took this year and weight training to change my view on my body in such a positive way. In my 20’s I would starve myself, eat overly processed food, survived on diet drinks and protein bars, just to achieve a certain look I thought was appealing. I worked out but didn’t really know what I was doing. I’d slave over cardio machines and never give my body what it needed to flourish. The shame of it is, all that “work” and I was never happy with myself. Now that I lift weights, eat healthy (organic, fresh foods, clean eating) I feel so much better about my body. I never thought that lifting weights would transform my body (and mind) the way it has. Granted, I am still slim/thin but not by choice. By lifting weights I have been able to slowly change the shape of my body but I also know this is a slow process. I am proud of my strength and pushing myself in the gym without killing myself over cardio and “the scale”. This year taught me to stop beating myself up, to just take care of your body and it will return the favor. The respect I have for my body now is so far from 10 years ago.
5. Investing in your future is so important. One piece of advice I always give to anyone just starting in the work force is to save for a rainy day. If your company offers a 401k, sign up! I signed up when I was around 24 and though I contribute only a small amount, 8 years later it’s a nice little starting nest egg. It’s hard, trust me I know first hand, to save especially in NJ/NYC area. You make just enough to maybe move out of your parents house but you need every penny you can get to just survive. How can you save anything? I would say this year has taught me that it’s so important to have a rainy day fund. So many unexpected emergencies popped up this year and thank god I was prepared. In the new year I plan to do a better job budgeting my money, saving up for a home (or maybe wedding lol) and forgo some purchases I know I really don’t need.
6. Take time out to just go do something or go somewhere you never have. This year we decided on a whim to go to a city that none of us had been to before. We went to Ocean City, Maryland and booked a hotel, rented a truck and just hit the road. We had no idea what to expect, where to go or what to do but we winged it. The trip helped to bond with each other, to make memories and it was all around the best trip. We laughed, we ate, we just flew by the seat of our pants and sometimes those make the best vacations or moments. Living in the moment – a great notion from last year to this year.
7. Be a mentor to someone and you’ll teach yourself some valuable lessons as well. The best thing that I ever had in my professional career was an amazing mentor. I will never forget him and what he taught me about life, the work force and about myself. I worked as a marketing assistant out of college at a NYC radio station. The position came to me at the perfect time and I was chosen because he saw something in me, something I think he knew he could bring out in me. Don, he was the kind of boss who took time out of his busy day to explain to me what a project was and how to understand it, even if it wasn’t even a project that I had any involvement in. He’d call me into his office and show me charts and reports and give me tid bits of information about marketing that I to this day use and remember. He believed in me, made me feel confident about my skills and talent, gave me opportunities to shine. He gave me a book one day that he said was the basis of all marketing principals. (The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing). I have since bought that book for people on my team and shared it with many others. The reason he was my mentor and so special to me, is he taught me that I had in me the ability to be a great mentor to someone else someday. That is what I do now for people on my team because I want to pay that forward. This world is so competitive and sometimes bosses don’t give you extra information, teach you more, because they don’t want to feel that one day you may take their job. My goal is to always build my team to be stronger and better and one day yes talented enough to take my role. Someday someone will have to. So this year taught me that investing time in others not only helps them, but it helps you as well. There is a great admiration that I have for my mentor, and I hope to be that for someone else.
8. Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. These words are so true and as I get older I realize that loving what you do is more important sometimes than a paycheck. I am blessed to work full time doing what I love (Director of Social Media) at a company I love, in an industry I love (health, fitness, wellness) with people I love who are talented, creative, caring and invested. In the last two years in this role I have grown so much, learned so much, taught so much and am happy every day when I come into my office. I also have spent a good part of 2013 focusing on building my craft of photography, another passion of mine. This last year just being with my camera to capture various moments and events in life has been so fulfilling. Bringing my camera to family events to snap photos, then print and share them has made them so happy. For me photography has always been an outlet of creativity and in the new year I plan to do it even more. With the guidance of my best friend (visit her website at www.SylviaInez.com), who does this professionally, I have been able to learn so much from her. We laugh that one day we should open our own company and do social media, event planning and photography full time (hey you never know!).
Overall 2013 taught me so many things that this list probably could go on forever. These were some of the big things I realized this year and things I am sure will carry over into the new year. The biggest thing that I am left with is knowing that as long as you take notice of things you like and don’t like, you can always work to remove or improve them. Focus on the positive, remove the negative. Surround yourself with supporters and support systems, not people who are negative and drag you down. I wish you all a very healthy, happy 2014!
Words of wisdom from “The Secret” a book that has forever changed my life and outlook on it.
I Promise Myself… by Christian D. Larson
To be so strong that nothing can disturb my peace of mind.
To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person I meet.
To make all my friends feel that there is something worthwhile in them.
To look at the sunny side of everything and make my optimism come true.
To think only of the best, to work only for the best and to expect only the best.
To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
To wear a cheerful expression at all times and give a smile to every living creature I meet.
To give so much time to improving myself that I have no time to criticize others.
To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
To think well of myself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words, but in great deeds.
To live in the faith that the whole world is on my side, so long as I am true to the best that is in me.