Welcome 2017! This new year is a blank canvas and we are the artists to paint our masterpiece. I love this time of year because many people think of January 1st as an opportunity to start fresh, change direction, or try something new. Last year was wonderful; I survived! Filled with great memories and achievements, challenging times, family and personal struggles, it all taught me valuable life lessons that I will forever cherish. I learned many lessons in 2016 and I’d like to share a few with you.
The most important lesson I learned last year is to cultivate what matters. Managing a family and maintaining a home is my toughest and most rewarding work. Last year, I vowed to serve my husband and teach our children because my previous mindset was to teach my husband and serve our children. The dynamics of this mindset shift were challenging since our 18-year-old graduated high school and enlisted in the Army while our youngest began preschool and our middle child kindergarten. What began as exciting and profitable, my husband’s real estate business experienced many financial hardships. Although my family and home are priority, I was not cultivating the relationships therein. Yes, I love my family and ensured my husband and children’s needs were met but something was missing. It felt like I was on autopilot going through the motions especially after our older son left home and we lost our built-in babysitter. A dear friend gave me a book that challenged my perspective as a mother raising young children. It was a breath of fresh air taking my maternal instincts to another level. I am now aware of how precious every day, routine moments with my children nurtures them and blesses me. The same is true with my husband who almost never complains about anything I say or do. During a conversation with him, I realized I was doing exactly what I want to do: being his wife and raising our children. I also discovered that I had not been completely supportive of his dreams and goals. From that moment, I was intentional about discussing with him how I could better serve him and help him in the fulfillment of his dreams. These were not easy conversations, but I am committed to helping my husband succeed. Cultivating what matter means that I am deliberate in my words and actions to serve my husband and teach our children.
The last lesson I learned was to not do more, but do more of the right things. I realized at the start of 2016 I had to do something different. I admired women operating in their gifts and desired that same a sense purpose. As a wife, stay-at-home mom, graduate student, and mompreneur, I was caught up in the day-to-day requirements of running a household, multiple businesses, and writing papers that I didn’t take time for me. By the time I made time, it was too late. The stress I experienced began manifesting physically in my body through anxiety, hair loss, and caused major procrastination. The more things and activities I took on, the more things were left undone. I was doing more, but the results were not comparable. Doing more didn’t mean I was productive or even effective; it only meant I had more to do. I decided at the beginning of the 4th quarter that I would not begin any projects or join any groups or organizations that didn’t align with my personal mission statement. I realized the amount of my responsibilities began to weigh heavily on me because of inability to say no or delegate. Beginning to focus on my current responsibilities and assessing their value and the impact they had on my life, I decided to let some things go. The moment I was released from those activities was the moment I felt a joy I had not felt in a while. I could breathe easy and rest well knowing I was no longer overcommitted. I started concentrating on the things that need my attention the most and it felt good not stressing about something every waking moment of the day.
The best lesson I learned in 2016 is how to write a better story. I didn’t have to settle for the life I was living. Things could be better if I was willing to do the work. While learning the previous lessons, I had to recognize the problem, acknowledge what I was doing was not working, and find a more excellent way to operate. These steps were necessary for me to stop telling myself the same sad story over and over: I’m a wife and stay-at-home mom pursuing my MBA and helping my husband with his real estate business, etc… While all these things are true, they only identified me by the roles I played and not who I was or what I liked to do. I wanted to do and be known for things that I particularly like doing. After a brief writing exercise, I was able to identify myself outside of the roles I play. Yes, I’m a stay-at-home mom but I also like arts and crafts. Hobby Lobby and Michaels have become my new favorite stores. I am a graduate student who enjoys dreaming and hanging out with other ladies who dream and like to have fun. I am a wife who considers couponing and meal planning a joy and not a chore. I discovered what I like to do and did it often. Now when I share my story, I am excited to include the things I enjoy doing outside of the roles I play.
I’ve shared my top three lessons learned in 2016 and if you found yourself somewhere in my story be encouraged that you can write a better story by cultivating what matters and doing more of the right things. Happy New Year!