What I learned in my year of Understanding

Each year I select a theme instead of making New Year’s resolutions. This year was my year of Understanding and next year begins my year of Simplicity.  It’s been an interesting year for sure, here are the 13 things I’ve learned that I think will also be beneficial for you.


1. It’s scary to share so much of yourself. I’d pushed part of myself down so much I’d forgotten about that part of my life.  Then in a conversation with a friend, I realized I wasn’t terrified anymore.  It took me nearly 3 months to write “How Cancer has Haunted, Defined Me” and the day I published it, I was a little on edge.  But then, the overwhelming support made me realize.  We’re all in this together and people really are rooting for me. Nice.


2. Your attitude makes all of the difference. You could say I’ve had a hard professional year, and you’d be right.  Lost 75% of my professional staff, had to cut important funding and had a metric ton of work piled on me.  But you could also say I’ve had the best professional year, and you’d be right. Being trusted enough for enormous responsibility, determined priorities and kept funding for things we really need, and supervise competent employees that make me excited to come to work each day.  It’s the same situation either way – I can either make the worst or make the best of the situation I have. I choose best.


3. If you want to do something well, you have to invest the time to make it happen. Everything I’ve ever done that mattered has taken time, energy and investment on my part.  Learning to be a runner meant hitting the pavement in the cold, rain and heat – and literally hitting it one time full force with my elbow. Ouch. Working my way to becoming an organizational expert has meant hours of research, writing and photography.  All of them have been worth it. If you want to do something, figure out how you can devote time to it every day.


4. Exercise is worth the trouble and the effort. It’s really your mind you have to convince, your body already knows what to do.


5. I can see now why people are more content and comfortable as they get older. I’m happy with what I have, I’m happy with where I am and I look forward to each day.  I guess that is what turning 35 will do to you. #MadamePresident

6. You aren’t defined by your stuff. Sure, I like the things I own, but I’ve realized that I already have everything I need.


7. If you track your progress, you’re more likely to stick with it. Buy a pedometer to track your steps (I have a FitBit), make a spreadsheet for your monthly spending (yep, got it too), give yourself a gold star for completing a workout (I have rainbow stars and I put one up every workout – worth it).  Every little thing like this matters and will get you closer to achieving your goal.

8. Goals only take you so far; action is what makes it happen. Sure I can wish for the moon, but if I’m just sitting around it’s never going to happen.  Think about what you want to accomplish, write it down and break it into small, achievable goals.  You can make it work if you work to make it work.


9. Mistakes are proof you’re trying. I’ve had some really bad ideas this year and I’ve waited too long to make some needed changes.  But, I’ve learned from each failure and adjusted my plan of action to help get me back on track.


10. Realize your weaknesses and play to your strengths. When I get excited, I want to do everything.  Then I’m stuck in the muck of my excited decision and am too stressed.  My husband just gives me one rule whenever I go somewhere, “Don’t volunteer for anything!” and it’s helpful because, when I get excited now, I take the information and save it for a week or month.  Then, when the excitement has passed – I can really determine if it’s something I want to invest in.


11. Everyone is weird; just be confident about it. Don’t apologize for being an individual. Don’t be scared to share your ideas. Don’t underestimate your level of awesome.  I’m depending on you and so is everyone else – hold your swagilistic head high.


12. It really is impossible to be sad when you’re holding a cupcake.  Seriously.


13. It’s ok to have to try again tomorrow. We’re blessed that every day is a new beginning woven together with endless possibility.  You can make the most of what lies ahead when you realize what you can do with right now.

I’ve been working with theme years for more than a decade now and seen some amazing life change through my focus and discovery.  I encourage you to develop a year-long goal or theme your years.  You’ll be impressed to see where it takes you. My theme years:

year description pages 2013   year description pages 2012  year description pages 2011 year description pages 2010year description pages 2009year description pages 2008year description pages 2007    year description pages 2006year description pages 2005 year description pages 2004year description pages 2003


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