As we move into a brand new year - and even more crazily, a brand new decade - I'm finding myself looking back over the last 12 months and reflecting on the year that's been. I always like to take the time between Christmas and New Year to check in and think about my successes, failures and everything the year has taught me.
December was such a crazy month. We spent most of it back in England for Christmas (which is why I took a break from blogging) and it was so lovely spending time with family and friends. It was pretty exhausting though as the trip was non-stop and I was all over the country, so now that I'm back in Vancouver, it's nice to have a bit of quiet time and realign with my purpose and think about my goals for the upcoming year.
2019 really was an amazing year, possibly one of my favourite years yet. My biggest highlight was of course getting engaged and it's been very exciting seeing all the wedding plans coming together. I've loved every single project I've worked on and I'm really proud of the content that Matt and I have been creating. It's so fun being able to work together, push our limits and see what we can come up with together and we've found such a nice creative groove.
Funnily enough though, a lot of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year didn't come to life. However, I'm totally okay with that because at the same time, new goals and priorities have emerged and I feel like I've learned so much about who I am, the people I want to surround myself with and what I want to achieve.
We've travelled to some amazing places, we've got to spend time with the people we love here and back home in England and I've generally felt very positive and happy. AND I'm going to be an aunty for the first time which I'm so excited about!! Of course, the year hasn't come without its challenges and I won't pretend it's been perfect because it hasn't. I've found myself questioning myself a lot this year, I've battled with lack of self-belief at times and there are certain things I've been afraid to pursue. But, that's something I plan to work on in 2020 and I'm committing myself to not shying away from things that scare me.
On the whole though, it's a year I'll look back on very fondly and I feel I've learned so much, so I wanted to share 3 things 2019 has taught me and how I'll be taking these lessons into the new year.
Don't shy away from things that scare you
One thing I've struggled with this year is not feeling "ready". There are certain things I've wanted to create and pursue yet I've been limiting myself due to lack of self-belief and feeling scared to do it. The result is that I've been putting off big tasks that in my heart, I know that I can do and I'll be good at, but my head has been getting in the way and convincing me otherwise.
Something Matt and I laugh about is that literally 2 weeks before he proposed, he jokingly asked what I'd do if he suddenly popped the question. My response was something like, "Oh nooo, that's not gonna happen and I'm really not ready to get engaged or plan a wedding just yet...maybe next year I'll feel more ready." (lol!)
Fortunately, he knows me well enough to know that I actually was ready, I just needed a little nudge and I was overthinking things waaay too much. And of course, I said yes without hesitation and now 6 months on, we're in full wedding planning mode and I'm loving it. So actually, it wasn't that I didn't feel ready, I'd just convinced myself that getting engaged and planning a wedding was a big huge scary task that I wasn't capable of dealing with just yet. But in reality, I quickly rose to the task and yes it's scary, but in the best possible way.
This taught me the very valuable lesson that nothing is as difficult as we make out in our heads and to not shy away from things that scare us. Our mind is our biggest superpower but equally our biggest limitation - if we tell ourselves we can do something, we'll do it. And if we tell ourselves we're not ready or equipped, guess what? We'll feel that way too. So, one of my key goals for this year is to stop limiting myself because I feel scared and go after the things that I want, no matter how big or scary.
Focus your energy in the right places
This year, I've been a lot more selective with how I spend my time and energy and I think we often underestimate how important that is. We only have so many hours in the day so we need to spend them wisely, especially when our to-do lists are endless and there are so many things demanding our attending.
I compare our energy to a phone battery - every task we do, activity we undertake and person we spend time with uses up a certain percentage of our battery. And the way we recharge our batteries is by doing things that fulfil us and spending time with people who make us happy and who give us that energy back. But if we constantly spend our energy in the wrong places, on people who don't value our friendship, on one-sided relationships, on tasks that don't serve us and doing things that don't make us happy, then our energy stores will become depleted and we'll end up feeling empty and burnt out.
That's why it's so important to focus your energy in the right places. It may mean saying "no" to certain events or tasks or people, but our energy is precious so we need to spend it wisely.
How important it is to reflect + practise gratitude
In a world where we're constantly on the go and striving for the next thing, it's more important than ever to take time to reflect and practise gratitude for the life we have. It's really easy to forget how fortunate we are and simply focus on what we don't have and quite frankly, get caught up in our first world problems. If you're reading this blog post, you're fortunate enough to have a phone or computer and time in the day to read posts like this. If you have a roof over your head and food in the fridge, you're incredibly fortunate because that's something so many people just don't have.
I've practised gratitude so much more this year, I've got a daily journal I write in and I make sure to celebrate my wins - no matter how big or small - rather than simply skipping onto the next task and striving for the next big thing. By doing this, I'm much more appreciative and every achievement feels so much more rewarding.
I was thinking the other day about when we first moved to Vancouver. We had zero money, I was working all hours of the day on client work and my blog and burnt myself to the ground, I was getting paid poorly but just trying to establish myself and make ends meet, and we had a shoebox junior studio apartment that was far too small for 2 people. We made it work though, because that's just what you do, but I dreamt of being able to blog full-time and get paid to write and travel, I dreamt of having a beautiful home (with separate rooms!) and I dreamt of having financial stability and freedom. And now, we have that. The life we live now is everything that I dreamt of 5 years ago.
My point is, don't get too hung up on what you don't have - focus on the things you have achieved because the life you live right now is something to be incredibly grateful. Of course, dream big and strive for more, but don't forget to appreciate where you are right here and now too.
What lessons did you learn in 2019 that you'll be taking into the new year?
Beautiful post, Alicia. Our fears and imaginings so often hold us back from trying things that could greatly enrich our lives. I love your thoughts on gratitude. It’s easy to forget how very fortunate we are for what we consider “the basics”. I always enjoy your photography. Incredible photos of incredible places. Wishing you a wonderful 2020.
Ahh thank you so much Shelley – I really appreciate that and glad you like the post, your kind words mean a lot 🙂 You’re absolutely right, the scariest things are often the ones that will bring us the most fulfilment and success aren’t they! Have a great 2020 too xx