Last summer I started a quarterly blog post series called “What I Learned.” This series follows the schedule of Emily P. Freeman over on her blog.
Lesson #1: Pick Your Battles – It’s okay if you don’t (always) get it done today.
Picking my battles is a lesson I need to relearn on a regular basis. It is too easy to wrapped up in huge to-do-lists and unrealistic expectations of meeting business and personal goals.
Having unrealistic expectations can lead to discouragement, and a feeling like the effort isn’t worth it. Thankfully I’m often reminded that a) “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it” (Anne of Green Gables) and b) There’s nothing magical about January 1st, you can start, or in my case re-start whenever you need to.
Lesson #2: Prioritizing, Planning, and Focusing are hard, but the effort is worth it.
When you are starting a new project or when you are working on a goal, it can be easy to skip the planning part and wing it. The planning process can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to set aside time for it.
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Quote credited to Benjamin Franklin.)
When I go through my monthly and quarterly reviews, the goals with the most progress are the ones I have created an action plan. And conversely, when progress has stalled, most of the time it is because I did not take the time to make an action plan.
Planning is essential to go after a goal but at times it’s difficult to make it a priority, but anything worth doing is rarely easy!
Lesson #3: Christmas Trees are one of the best parts of Christmas, and it’s okay if you only put up 2 out of 3 😉
I love Christmas. And over the years I have collected way too many decorations and Christmas lights. And, one of my favorite parts of the season is to have the lights turned off in the evening with only the tree lights on. The soft glow and twinkle it produces is so relaxing and calming.
Over the years I’ve picked up a few smaller tabletop trees and like to set one up in my bedroom and one in my office. Of course, that is in addition to the lovely and fragrant fresh tree in the living room.
This year I was only able to put up my fresh tree and just one of the tabletops. For a while I was quite disappointed. I know silly right?
Finally, I realized it just wasn’t going to happen, so I packed up the third and put it back in storage. Letting go of that expectation and getting the third tree out of sight, I was able to relax and thoroughly enjoy the soft glow of the two trees I did get set-up. There are times when “out of sight, out of mind” is a good thing.
Lesson #4: Visual Clutter = Higher Stress Levels
In listening to an interview (I can’t remember which one…) with Emily Ley of EmilyLey.com she said something that gave me an “aha!” moment and helped me understand something about myself.
She said that “visual clutter creates stress.”
Suddenly I had a better understanding of why I have to do dishes before I start my workday, why my messy desk drives me nuts, and why when piles begin to grow around the house I have to deal with it before moving on to anything else.
I’ve even realized why putting decorating my home this past year has been so hard. There is a fine line between just enough and too much where it becomes visual clutter, and it feels like I’m close to that line.
Since this aha moment, I’ve paid even closer attention to my environment and how it impacts me.
Lesson #5: Use your art supplies! Don’t wait for the perfect project.
Last fall I met Jennie Moraitis of LittleGirlDesigns.com and got to be part of the launch team of her book Happy Journal. First of all, I LOVED her book and second, she reminded me that you do not have to wait for a specific project to pull out your art supplies. Just pull them out and have fun!
Since then I’ve created an art bag and organized it with all my favorite supplies so that they are ready at a moments notice. Now I can just grab the entire bag or pull just a few tools and have some fun. When I’m feeling stressed, my coloring books are easy to get to, or I can pull out my favorite set of pens, drawing paper, start doodling and create just for fun.
Lesson #6: Robitussin still tastes awful, but useful when you need it.
Like 99% of us this winter I got that nasty cold/virus thingy. While I never got a fever and was never entirely down and out… that cough! Oy! It drove me nuts, kept me up a few nights, and lasted over a month.
As a kid, I got sick a lot, and my doctor would always prescribe that yucky, sickly sweet cherry cough syrup that my Mom would have a hard time getting me to take.
This time I was desperate and took it voluntarily. Thankfully it worked and helped me get to sleep. The taste, ugh, brought me back to many a grimace and awful moment of taking a similar tasting cough medicine from when I was a kid. Yuck! Glad that is over :).
So there you have it, another round of “What I learned.”
What did you learn this Winter? Share one thing you learned in the comments below.
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.