5 things I learned about myself in 2018 (and what I do about it)

I can state that 2018 was a good year. With ups and downs, it was filled with some work, some fun, some love, some sleep and some great lessons.

I am pretty active and, thus, there are many things I do. Some creating more value for myself than others. The most important thing is that I got to learn so much. Instead of mentioning what I did in 2018, I will point to what I learned this year. Top five things only, I learn something new every day.

Some of my lessons are actually ideas I might have known about for a long time. But the experiences of 2018 made me become more aware than I ever was. My corporate life taught me that knowing how something should be done is not the same with being good when doing it. Therefore, what I mean is that during 2018 I got more in depth with who I am and practiced improving my habits (and skills) so that I actually get to achieve my goals and live the life I want.

These are the most important 5 things I learned about myself this year and what I did about it:

  1. Focusing on a to-do list without having in mind the end-goal is like knowing the way without caring about the destination.

I love to-do lists. They help me track what is to be done. And because I am active in a capital city, a lot has to be done. For a while, I treated each item on the list as being important and tried to make time for it. I used the urgent/important matrix, but basically all had to be done at some point.

Meanwhile, I discovered I was wrong: some things are more important and are valuable, while others are unimportant and the consequences of them not being done are too small to be important. But this decision is to be made only with the end-goal in mind: why do I have to do this? does it bring value? is it important to me on the long term? what happens if I don’t do it? can I delegate it? And more importantly: is it aligned with my mission, my values? Important questions to be asked before letting an item enter the to-do list.

Thus, I now take control of my time: make a plan based on my values, my roles and interests, act with intention, evaluate the results, re-plan and re-act, evaluate and keep it going.

  • Being burned out is not fun.

January 2018 was the most stressful month in my life. I felt deeply unhappy and stressed and completely misunderstood; at times and in some areas of my life I felt not understood at all. It wasn’t a good time, but made me think more about my active role in my own unhappiness. I started to speak up and discuss more openly about how I felt, when my grandmother died in February. Which made me reassess what is actually important in my life.

In order to avoid feeling as good again, I realized I needed to set some boundaries. I want to help and when I can, I help. I want to remain optimist, but in order to do that, I need to take care of myself first. There are so many things I consider to be great ideas. But just because I am good at doing something or just because someone asks a favor, it doesn’t mean I have to say yes. Especially when it’s not a priority for me in that moment.

Thus, I learn to say NO more often.

  • I procrastinate.

It took me much longer than it should have to admit it, as there were many hints leading to this conclusion. I know now, so I am working with or around it.

I make it easier for myself with things like:

  1. I include breaks on my calendar. I plan the day by allowing myself to `waste` time doing things I am interested in (like reading (self)management books, listening to marketing podcasts, blogging) in a planned manner;
  2. I (try to) criticize myself less for it. I get distracted and spend more time online than I intended to? I will consider it relaxation time and move on. No over-scheduling my calendar for the next two days, less negative self-talk and more understanding for the fact that I am stress and this is my habit for releasing it;
  3. I try to change my habits. For instance, I try to procrastinate in a `better` way, by replacing activities I am not proud of (watching movies) with activities which are more engaging and make fun (blogging).

I am still working on it.

  • Thinking is not enough.

I am not sure why I always regarded my opinions/thoughts to be much more important than they actually were.

My perception is influencing my reality. I consider my thesis to be the most important thing in my life. This perception makes it very, very stressful. Which at times depletes me and takes all the fun out of the process. Thinking about the subject is writing no pages. Doing, however, is another story. I discovered how doing small progress every day, like putting together even some (poorly written) sentences, is empowering and energizing. Most importantly, gets one closer to what needs to be done.

For so long I lived with the impression that my perspectives on reality are shared knowledge that I sometimes wonder in disbelief of my naivete. The moment I realized that my way of interpreting facts is not necessarily common knowledge, I understood it’s time to act more and to voice my opinions more. Not all of them, I am a pretty opinionated lady. But those opinions which matter and contribute to creating to an improved (social) environment.

  • I’ve lost my voice by constantly trying to make things comfortable for others.

Some of my decisions proved to be poor decisions. Some of them felt wrong from the beginning.

However, I learned from them all. I am not particularly proud of making people suffer in the process, but I realiszed (quite recently I could say) that I am actually allowed to make the best choices for myself without feeling guilty about it.

I am still learning how this works, but for the time being I am observant of myself and how I feel. I practice speaking up more and I allow myself to have zero interest in topics which are regarded as important by some.

I am thinking less about how things should be and I encourage people to follow their interests, ask questions, be curious and play more.

In short, 2018 was valuable for myself especially because I learned to:

  • Act more in line with my true values;
  • Set barriers, it’s fine to say no when it’s not my priority or different than how I want it to be;
  • Use time wisely, there is enough for all that’s fun and interesting;
  • Make a rough plan, start, act, implement and adjust;
  • Observe what interests me and express it.

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