One of the most powerful ways to create change is to look back at the situations in your life – what's working, what's not working, the good and the hard moments – and see what the lessons are for you.
This is something I do each day for the little lessons and, as I head into each New Year, I look for those bigger, important insights that can help shape how I move forward.
This past year (really the past 18-months) has had more ups and downs in my life. I am learning to accept, let go, trust my intuition, focus on what matters, find the joy and be grateful every single day – no matter how it goes – at a whole new level.
Living with this intention makes all the difference in showing up in your life in a way that’s aligned with your values and who you want to be – even with the messiness.
I’m hoping that sharing these lessons will help you to be more of your best self and live with more happiness, balance and focus on what matters, as you enter 2023.
And perhaps save you the time, stress and overthinking that I caused myself in learning them!
So, let’s dive in.
Here are the five important lessons I have learned this past year.
Lesson #1: Trust your intuition
Where I got off course this year, I let other people’s opinions, advice and perceptions drown out my own intuition and what felt right for me.
I believe guidance and perspective from others can be very helpful – BUT only when it’s aligned with your own values and intuition.
Too often, I have let someone in business or personally steer me off course because I believed that they knew better than me or that their opinion mattered more.
My HUGE lesson is to stop letting the opinions of others be the loudest voice or to look for answers from people who fundamentally don’t align with my values.
I can take advice and listen to the people that do align but, in the end, I’m going to trust myself to guide my choices and listen to my intuition more. This also means less overthinking!
It's important for me to do what feels right for me -- and for you to do what feels right for you. We know ourselves the best.
Lesson #2: Keep the main thing, the main thing
In the areas of my life that have been going really well, time and time again, it’s because I kept the focus on what mattered most.
With my husband and kids, that is our strong relationship and connection. With my boundaries, it’s not working evenings and weekends so I have space for my family and my personal time. With my clients, it’s being fully present in our sessions.
Where things didn’t go as I had hoped, I see now that my attention was not as consistent. This is my focus for business growth in 2023.
Of course, there will always be more than just the main thing. But when you are crystal clear on what matters MOST, let that guide your decisions, and go all in by putting your time, attention and energy into THAT, that's when amazing things happen.
As Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”.
Lesson #3: The less you do, the better you do
I worked considerably less this past year, took most of the summer off, and needed more personal time off than usual. Despite all this, it was still my company’s best year revenue-wise and doing well overall.
Now, did I achieve all the growth I had hoped for? No. But it showed what was possible when we are focused on the right things and not mindlessly putting in hours without a clear purpose.
For me, success is to have time and space for all the important areas of my life, to feel good as I strive, and honor my values and what I need to be my best version.
As I head into 2023, and put more focus on business growth, working harder isn’t even on the table.
My focus is on leveraging my time better, having more white space in my calendar, being consistent with the actions that will move the needle and keeping the main thing, the main thing (back to lesson #2).
Give yourself permission to do less. Your future self will thank you for it.
“Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do.” - Greg McKeown
Lesson #4: Your best will look different on different days
Ahhhh, this is a lesson I learn over and over! I have high expectations for myself and strive for excellence in my work, as a parent, for myself and more -- in a good way.
But, sometimes, when I find myself impatient, anxious or not as productive as I *think* I should be, I can fall into an old habit of being hard on myself. That I am procrastinating or not living up to my best . . . when what I really need is to take a step back and reset.
Which is completely normal and okay. We are not meant to be 100% the same, all the time.
You will have days where you struggle. You will have days where unexpected things happen or a kid is home sick and you need to adjust.
You will have days where you are less focused or not showing up as the leader or parent or high-performer you want to be.
You will have some areas of your life where you kick ass and other areas that fall short of your expectations.
For me, this is a lesson of acceptance, letting go and flowing with life rather than pushing. It's continuing to be mindful of showing up in my life in the way I want. It's knowing my best will look different on different days and that's okay.
Your best will look different on different days too.
Now, this doesn't mean settling for the way things are. If you are unhappy with something in your life, you can change it. Some of the best changes in my life have come from the hardest times, deciding that enough is enough!
Lesson #5: Happiness is an inner choice and comes from gratitude and appreciating each day, and giving space for the not-so-happy moments too
Since my mom passed away suddenly in October 2021, I have learned to give more space for the not-so-happy emotions I am feeling. The sadness and tears come more often and at random times, especially this past summer.
I’ve been learning at a new level to feel how I feel instead of ignoring it or fighting it. To really listen to what I need.
And, at the same time, to still appreciate and find the joy every single day.
The best practice (without a doubt) that I've had for the last two years is before I get out of bed each morning, I tell myself and FEEL that today is a great day to be alive. Even on the day that my mom died.
It might not turn out to be a great day, but it is ALWAYS a great day to be alive. I'm breathing and I'm here and my kids and husband are here and there's so much goodness around.
And so I never lose that perspective, and even in the sad moments or when things feel hard, I return to that perspective to find the peaceful moments I need.
There are both positive and negative things that happen to you, and it’s your ability to find gratitude, appreciation and positivity – even the smallest thing – in those moments that can bring you more happiness.
* * * * * *
As I head into a New Year, and reflect on these lessons, I have a renewed excitement and focus on empowering myself and others to work less, live more and be our best even with all the high expectations and messiness of everyday life.
You deserve to be happier, more balanced and feel more successful – not constantly torn between your work and personal life, exhausted, or letting the hard times bring you down and keep you from being the leader in your life you want to be.
"Success isn’t about how your life looks to others. It’s about how it feels to you." - Michelle Obama
So, as you reflect, what are your own lessons? What is one of these lessons I shared that might be helpful for you?
Comment below and let me know. I would love to hear from you!
Wherever you are on your journey, I'm here to support you in the way that works best for you!
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Stacey L. Olson is a Leadership and Certified Positive Psychology Coach, has 15 years of corporate experience and has gone through her own transformational change from burning out to balanced in life while performing at a high level (both in her corporate career and own business). She works with professionals who want to work less, live more and be their best even with all the demands, high expectations and messiness of everyday life. Stacey is the founder of The Balanced Leader™ program and offers executive and leadership coaching, workshops, and speaking.
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