Welcome to my first ever medium post!
Yes, it is that time of the year when the weather is chilly and the days are short. Another year is coming to an end soon. It’s the perfect time to take out your journal and write down 10 things you have learned this year. Somehow I have done this for past couple of years but never had courage to share it with anyone. Not because they are not worth sharing but because I always thought nobody would be interested in reading it. And that brings me to my first lesson.
1. Speak your voice even if it shakes.
I realized that my assumption of people not being interested in reading my thoughts was just a mask, just another excuse to just cover my fear for writing, that’s deep rooted in my heart. “What if people judge me?” “I am not a writer, what if they don’t like what I write?” I was writing these thoughts out in my journal and realized that what if I write for me? I decided to dive in! Hopefully I can sustain my courage to hit publish until we get to lesson 10!
2. Focus on the progress not on perfection
This year has been special for me, because I finally took the leap and made a successful career change from Human Resources into UI /UX design. Although this change was gradual over last couple of years, this year I made up my mind to dive deep and said goodbye to all the doubts and fears in my mind. Although, many times throughout the year, I found myself focusing on the skills I still don’t have or compared myself to my peers or other designers in the industry and got depressed, thinking how far I am from where they are. Let’s face it. I am 37 and I have changed my career twice(More on that later in some other post). I made some choices for my family and for much needed medical attention for my son. This road has been scary and very different for me than it might have been for others in the design industry. If my journey has been so different from others, then how is it possible to expect the same results as others? I decided to carve my own path and own my success and my failure and everything in between. That change in mindset, helped me measure my success only against me and not anybody else. But my mind still wanders and goes to the old pattern of me fearing and doubting my abilities. Every time this happens, I pull out my journal and list down my achievements and my progress and that makes a huge difference.
3. There is still so much to learn and practice in UI/UX design
I made a career change, but I still need to learn so much in this field. Of course I have just scratched the surface. One of my primary goals for 2020 is to immerse into the field of UI/UX design and gain as much knowledge and practice as possible.
4. It’s okay to disappoint people.
I can not please everyone! I just can’t. That’s not something I am here on the earth for. I absolutely shouldn’t try to please everyone around me all the time. It’s just not worth it. Believe me, I have tried that for many years and it’s such a drag and waste of your time, energy. Don’t concern yourself to what others think you should do. It’s not your job to make other people happy or live up to other people’s expectations. Never give them power over you. It’s really okay to do what makes you happy. YOU deserve it!
5. Find something in your life that brings joy and immerse yourself into it.
For me, that something is houseplants this year! In the month of August, I bought myself my first plant. My Philodendron ‘Heartleaf’!
Couldn’t stop myself at one and kept buying more and more. I now have a total of 54 houseplants. There is something about them that makes me really really really….really very happy! Nurturing them, watching them grow is something I look forward to every single day. It brings me closer to the nature and gives me a chance to relax and just be in a moment. It’s the best hobby that I have cultivated ever in my life and I don’t think I can live without houseplants anymore. I also love the houseplant community on social media. Be it on YouTube or Pinterest or Instagram. I love seeing positive energy and super helping attitude of these amazing plant loving humans and it lifts me up every time I either interact with them or even just watch what they share. It’s amazing!!
6. Planning your day a night before
Sometime in the middle of the year, I started planning my day a night before I go to bed. It has been a game-changer. Now I must admit that I didn’t do it every night for the rest of the year, but I would say, may be 50% of the time.
It did 2 things for me.
- It took away the decision fatigue out of my brain and boosted my productivity.
In the night, when I sit down to jot my to-do-list for the next day, my mind is calmer, much more at ease than when the day begins in the morning. I have to take care of a lot of chores in the morning, that doesn’t require too much of planning but it does require time and my energy. For example, getting lunches ready, making breakfast, morning yoga, walking my dog etc. If I sit down to plan my day after all of this, chances are that I have already forgotten what’s super important for me today. By the time, I have probably taken many tiny mundane decisions that are needed to get me so far in the day.
Planning my day a night before, helps me focus on just the right things and putting them on Asana makes me feel accomplished already. Since my to-do-list is already in Asana, it is most likely that I will be eager to check that off next day. I used to make the list on paper, but checking it off of Asana, somehow makes me feel damn good :)
- It builds routine into my life.
Building routine is one of the most important things all successful people do in their lives. I love reading motivational and inspirational books. I always get inspired by how people achieve what they really want to achieve and most importantly how they build themselves every single day with practice. Planning is where half the battle won. They all are extremely great at not just planning but sticking to their plans and building discipline into their lives. This year, by planning my day, and sticking to it made me realize what goes into it and I loved the feeling when I was able to stick to it as opposed to when I let my life get into the way. This is something I will be surely carrying with me in 2020.
7. Sleep is super important for being healthy.
I have always been a great sleeper. I fall asleep as soon as I hit the bed. I won’t lie, those who know me knows that I love sleeping. But then there is Netflix, and there is Amazon Prime Video and there is YouTube and everything else that’s out there. In the last couple of years, I have noticed, that I have been spending a lot more time binging on the shows and movies. This quickly became a habit where me and my husband would binge watch shows that we don’t think we were too much interested in watching. We would just watch because, somebody else we know are watching or just because it got great reviews or just because it’s released today or some other lame excuse. We reached a point or at least, I reached a point where I was no longer excited about the shows. I would just watch because they are available at my fingertips and I absolutely have to take no efforts at all to watch those. This quickly turned us into late sleepers and early risers because of the school and work commitments, shrinking down our sleep hours significantly.
So this year, I took my control back and started saying no to the shows that I am not super excited about. There are many shows that I haven’t watched this year. Russian Doll, Silicon Valley, The Crown, the entire series of GOT to name a few. Yes I haven’t watched even a single episode of GOT and I am not weird, I am still alive :)
I heard all the rage about them from my friends and family but said no thank you. And happily stuck to my early bedtime most of the nights of 2019. Every time, I slept on time and woke up refreshed, I felt great for making the choice of saying no to binging and saying yes to sleep!
8. I can no longer out-exercise a bad diet.
This has been a big learning for me this year. I have always struggled with weight loss. But I also had success and lost about 36 pounds. But slowly gained some weight back over the last 4–5 years. All this time I have been exercising consistently. As a result, even though I haven’t lost weight, I have become stronger than ever before. I am much more fitter now than I was in my 20’s. I can lift weights, do pushups, enjoy 90 min of challenging yoga class and also run a 5k. Now running a 5k might sound like very basic to most of you. But just to give you an idea, when I was in my late 20’s, I wasn’t able to run even for 5 minutes without being out of breath. Even a 5 minute run on treadmill would cause a shin split (I have flat feet). So I had to run a minute and walk a minute and slowly increase the running time. As compared to my previous fitness level, I have improved.
But lately, I have been noticing that if I don’t eat clean, it affects my workout. It actually makes it harder for me to reach my peak or I am left with not much endurance to push through tough workouts. Clean eating habit is surely on top of my list for 2020.
9. I don’t think I am done with moving.
This year, we moved for the 10th time in the last 14 years. We did 2 times coast to coast and then within the cities and the state for the rest. That sounds crazy! or does it? If my husband is reading this, this will surely scare him a bit. Call me crazy but there is something about moving that excites me. I am sure I am not alone. In spite of all the pain and turbulence, I still enjoyed every move and found something interesting on the other side of the move. Sure, if you ask me right after the move, my answer will be and has always been “I am so done with moving”. But when I think in retrospect, I think I would do it again happily if need be :)
10. Yoga and meditation practice has made me more grateful and in sync with who I really am.
September is my birthday month, I decided to create a habit of showing up on my yoga mat every single day for the whole month. I followed Yoga with Adriene on YouTube. In particular this September playlist. At the end of the month, I couldn’t stop myself and continued for the month of October, November and December practicing her other videos. It made me focus better on the task at hand and made me less agitated and more happy from inside out. Clearly a win!
I truly believe that every year you are building on the previous year’s results. That is why it it so important to reflect back on the year that is passed and find out your learnings so that you can plan your next year better to become a better version of yourself!
Reflect on yours today!