This year was the most challenging year for me, both personally and professionally, but also one that has grown me as a human the most.

As I usually end every year with a deep reflection of big lessons learned, I’m honoured to once again be able to share this with you.

FYI, I’m running my free once a year goals planning workshop just around the corner you can join me on to plan your goals with me2020 Vision: Goal Setting and Vision Mapping Workshop.

At the start of 2019, I was battling with depression after a burnout, which I outlined in my year recap in 2018. I come from a bloodline where chronic anxiety is extremely prevalent in my family, and it’s something I’ve learned to manage as well as I can while running a full-time business.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned about going through depression and burnout was how much I added ‘extra weight’ to what I was experiencing.

As I’ve not experienced full-blown depression for so many years (coincidentally or not, I haven’t felt it since I had moved to Bali 6.5 years ago), I saw how hard I was on myself for being here again.

“We’re here, again? Why haven’t you gotten over this yet?” – this is what I said over and over again to myself.

This hardness, and the honest disgust I felt with myself, woke me up to why my most important mission for the beginning of 2019 was to be more nurturing and caring to my emotional wellbeing. To actually experience this emotional shift, know that the depression was an opportunity for me to look at the hard stuff in the face, and use it to grow.

The truth is, every time we go beyond our comfort zones, fail at things we long to achieve, and pursue a life less ordinary, we will be hit with moments of uncertainty and discomfort. These moments are not to be swept under the rug because knowing what I know today, these are the very moments that shape who we become in our future selves.

Which brings me to the first lesson I’ve learned in 2019… 

Lesson #1:  Mindfulness and Resilience Gets You Through Hard Stuff

Positive thinking may help keep us move forward, but being able to regulate our emotions may help create a strength for tolerance when the going gets tough.

As a high achiever, my default behaviour can lead me to start doing more in order to ease my own anxieties. However, the most uncomfortable but necessary tool has been to sit with how I felt about my successes and failures, and take the time to understand where the disconnect has been for me.

Enter mindfulness.

For me, using mindfulness as a way to refrain from fixing anything, and instead, to dig deeper into my emotions and gain immense awareness and insights from the pain.

Without mindfulness, I could’ve easily slipped into old behaviours of distracting myself with more things to do, instead of knowing what deeper changes need to transform within myself to really make a difference in the new decisions I’m about to make.

At times, mindfulness for me meant spaciousness. Rather than a to-do list, I started practicing no-decision weeks and create space in my calendar to let things sit, process, and breathe. Time and space allow us to heal from things like anxiety and stress – our minds and bodies need this.

Lesson #2:  We Must Be Aware Of Our Lessons To Shape Our Growth

Well, this is the title of this blog post, so it’s a pretty important lesson for me this year, and every year I do a roundup blog post like this one.

In my humble opinion, this is the piece that impacts what kind of life we get to have, or never get the chance to experience.

Self-awareness is the most important skill to cultivate if you want to have a successful life.

As the way we operate in the world moves faster and faster, and devices that keep our attention glued to anything but our own wellbeing, it’s becoming easier to avoid pain through distraction.

When I was trying to figure out how to align my deep interests and passions back into my work and redesign the parts of my life that had gotten me feeling burned out, I almost fell into the trap of simply moving forward with new ideas to fix what I thought was broken.

What I discovered was that when I gave myself the permission to pause, and reflect on the important lessons in my successes and more often than not, failures, it gave me an opportunity to analyze without the anxiety-driven action mode I can get myself in.

It was so helpful to almost become a ‘scavenger’ – to look for the real facts and data to understand how my successes and failures have happened, rather than fall prey to acting from my triggered emotions.

And to be honest, it was good not to simply guess what I think has to happen. There is so much insight when we choose to ‘look under the hood’ in our circumstances.

When I peeked under the hood of what has been the catalyst for my success in the past, I realized it wasn’t my super-duper marketing techniques or my fancy branding that brought me great clients and amazing revenue in the past. It was the consistent moments where I chose to build relationships with people who came into my business, leads, clients, and partners alike.

When other coaches told me to spend less than 20 minutes on a discovery call, I chose to give the right people an investment of time to give them a powerful conversation. 80% of these people have always hired me when I’ve done that.

When I recognized that relationships and intimacy are some of my top brand values, I can trust that I don’t need to learn every automated funnel or marketing hack out there when others are doing so. I can maintain being who I really am, and my way of marketing is simply having valuable and transformational conversations as the funnel.

The same goes for when I looked under the hood for what made me feel misaligned in my work and business priorities. When I look back at felt like I had to ‘push’ to make happen, and where I’ve overcomplicated things because I felt I had to work harder to gain success, there was real evidence and data for my decisions and behaviours that resulted in disappointment.

Lesson #3:  When We Have Spaciousness In Our Lives, We Experience Real Freedom

I travelled more this year than I ever did before. With my awesome partner, Andrew, in tow, we learned to adapt to new environments and cultures while I continued to work on the road.

Incorporating travel with my lifestyle choices has been huge in creating an incentive for me to care about my time and have healthy boundaries. I wrote a bit about this experience on this Instagram post here.

Something I’ve been very mindful about this year is to not only SAY what’s important to me, but to make REAL decisions to ensure these important values gets lived out every single day.

I’ve made conscious decisions to thrive as a #CompanyOfOne, a term made famous by writer Paul Jarvis in his book of the same name, where he makes a fine argument on Why Staying Small Is The Next Big Thing For Business.

Staying small can be a lovely strategy for your version of success and lifestyle choices. When I stopped ‘scaling’ in a way people thought I should, my attention focused on designing a business that matched the kinda life I wanted to live.

And that doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

I discovered I work best in ‘seasons’, which meant that I’m the kind of person that prefers to work in a sprint in certain times of the year, and resting to process and reflecting on what’s important for my business. Staying small has allowed me to have more autonomy over this type of schedule.

This jives well with the way Andrew and I can plan our adventures and travels, where resting times or intentional months where I decide to take less client work can be done in remote places where I don’t need the most powerful internet connections or amenities for heavy workdays (hello, log cabin in the woods!).

As I’ve pivoted to staying small strategically, I am seeing more spaciousness in my life.

Staying small has allowed me to work with a handful of one-to-one clients in the intimate level I’m best suited to serve, and as a result, I have happier clients and I have a happier time managing a smaller client roster with a premium service that works well with a flexible schedule I prefer.

This gave me more time to create space to finish my book that’s coming out in 2020 (hurray, more on this in a bit!).

Staying small has allowed me to spend less on expenses that used to take up 20-40% of my revenue. I no longer dread needing to manage employees, and I choose to work with higher-end contractors who lead in their craft and I only pay when I need them on a project basis.

This freed me up from needing to earn constantly to maintain money for salaries – remember the resting months I needed? I can afford to take those without financial pressure.

Most importantly, staying small strategically has helped me to adapt to a more minimalist way of running a business. Instead of striving to do more things, I consciously decide what really matters and only do one or two things really well. I can’t say enough on how this has absolutely improved my mental state of mind as a business owner, and these boundaries have supported me to keep my anxiety at bay, and my focus on sustainable targets I can reach.

What I’ve also learned is that when I can decide what I really need financially to fulfill my lifestyle choices and important money goals for my future, I know what’s truly enough.

The knowing of what’s enough makes sure that I feel complete in my goals, without the urge to want more, more, and more. I can finally feel content with my efforts, because my vision for success and how I want to define it, is on my terms.

On a personal level, feeling enough makes sure I don’t fall into the trap of comparing myself to the ‘Joneses of businesses’. I know exactly what I’m building and why it works for me. 

What Does 2020 Look Like For Me?

After a whole year of navigating tough personal transitions and reconnecting with the deep work I want to do with my business, I’m taking the data I’ve gathered about what works for me into fresh decisions for the new year.

So here’s a quick summary of what’s exciting me for the year ahead:

1. The release of my new book in the Spring/Summer of 2020
A proud project I’ve been working hard on in the last 3 years. I tell you, writing a book is no joke, but I’m really excited to share my research, insights, and thoughts on the future of work and lifestyles.

2. New Frameworks, Philosophies, and Concepts on Work Reinventions
From working with different people for so many years to repurpose their skills into an independent career path, I’ve learned a lot along the way about important choices people make when creating the work to build the life they want. I’m called to share this and more in some new updates to my Youtube channel very soon – don’t forget to subscribe!

3. Sharing Stories in Transition and Change in Mid-Career and Midlife
I’ve loved doing more podcast interviews late this year, and have vowed to align myself with more podcasts, stages, and people who love having honest discussions around this. If you missed my latest interviews on some great podcast shows this year, check out my episode on Fizzle about Reinventing Your Work, and on the Level Up Your Course show where I jammed about what it means to create a body of work, and how you can create a work vision that fulfills you.

4. Continuously Creating Space For Family, Friends, and Community
After spending 6 weeks ‘co-workationing’ with some of my best nomadic friends in San Pancho, Mexico, I’ve learned how much I enjoy building my life with people who get me. I’ve gained so much from conversing with people who want to raise their families unconventionally to sharing honestly about navigating our lives without a traditional roadmap.

With that said, my friends and I have committed to exploring new home bases in the new year, and one of them being Hawaii! Still, an island-style which I love, but closer to North America to prioritize Vancouver friends and family I still have.

What About You?

Thank you for stopping by to read this, and I so appreciate you joining me on this journey.

Now, I would love to hear more about the lessons you’ve learned that you’ll love to take with you to grow into 2020.

Share with me below!

PS: If you found this blog helpful, please forward it to someone who can benefit from reading it – and tell them to say hello to me 🙂

To learning from your most helpful lessons and starting a brand new decade together,

Lydia