Reflections from 2018!
Tamil Nadu, India
I’m writing to you from 88 degrees and sunny. I’ve never been happier to have my feet wide open and not have to wear closed toed boots! Anyways, on to reflections from 2018!
Wow what a year. 2018 was a year of many things, but most of all, it was the year of what I like to call the three C’s: consistency, commitment and clarity. Commitment to my dreams and higher self. Clarity of vision. Consistency in work and routine. For the first time in a long time, I began to root myself in one place and consciously work towards the life I want to live. As a result of the three C’s, I made some big moves that laid the foundation for the work I’ll be pursuing this upcoming year in 2019.
Some (not all) of these moves involved moving 4 times this year, beginning to financially and energetically invest in myself through a coach and Marie Forleo’s B-School, beginning grad school, launching The Thinkers, LLC!!, moving to New York City, and investing time build community, and to strengthen existing bonds and relationships. Here are some of my lessons learned. I’m know I’m missing a bunch, but I’ll refrain from adding more since the list is already long.
1. One simple mindset shift can change everything.
The moment I made a commitment to the person I want to become, I was left with the choice of how I want to get there. In the moment, the decision felt pretty simple. If we are committed to reaching a higher version of ourselves, anything is possible. A simple mindset shift goes a long way. The person I want to become is so tied into the fears I want to get to the other side of, the things I want to get better at, and the values I want to live – that once I made a commitment to that person, that woman I know I am, everything else seemed to follow. The external world, the reality we live, really is a manifestation of our internal world.
2. Put those blinders on when necessary. If you follow your own path, your internal truth, all else falls into place.
This second one ties into lesson #1. I’m not usually someone who compares myself to others, but there was a moment in the year, I was struck with the feeling of “scarcity” or “not being enough”. This mindset is crippling. It didn’t take me long to figure out where it was coming from, but it was this feeling of “scarcity” which provided me with insight as to what holds so many people back from becoming the authentic beings that they actually are. Comparison, envy, intimidation are prime examples of you getting in the way of yourself. My experience taught me to get out of my way and get over myself. In many cases, the people who come into our lives aren’t what is holding us back, it is we who do it to ourselves. If we are truly, authentically focused on becoming our higher selves, the external noise won’t seem to distract us as much. Sometimes it’s hard to really listen to my internal compass when there’s so much happening on the outside, but sticking to that compass or internal truth is what I believe is the key to living a life well lived. This has been a valuable lesson for me this year as I’ve moved to New York City and felt surrounded by so many places to be, people to meet, and things to do. Putting my “blinders” on and following my internal truth and doing what I know I need to do has been a saving grace.
3. People, things, circumstances come into our lives as mirrors.
Tied to #2, I learned a valuable lesson this year from Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love. People come into our lives as mirrors. I believe we experience emotions such as intimidation, envy, doubt (the list goes on) because it is showing something within ourselves we need to work on. I’m a firm believer that so much of what has happened in my life this year- the people I have come across, have been here to show me that I am either headed in the direction of my truth or there is something to be learned or work on in my life. The experiences we have, in most but not all cases, can be a mirror to our internal state of mind as well.
4. 95% of the time we aren’t actually busy.
My dad hammered the falsehood of “busy” into my brain from a young age. This is something I’ve known for a long time, but only began incorporating it into my language and using it as a core tenant for my life this year. Saying we’re too busy is just another way of saying it’s not a priority. Complaining is one of my pet peeves, but hearing complaints under the guise of “I’m too busy for X” is also just a way of people saying either they don’t know their priorities, they haven’t made a particular thing their priority, or they have consciously or unconsciously misallocated their time. When I find myself saying “I’m too busy for X”, I know it’s time to reconfigure the way I’m thinking and re-align my priorities. This leads me to #5.
5. If we aren’t intentional with our time, large chunks of it can slip away in things that don’t matter. HELL YES or NO.
This may seem obvious at first, but you’d be surprised at how much of our days, weeks, months, and even years go by with work, people, and in places that don’t contribute to our growth and aren’t really meaningful to us. This year I really began to see where my time is being sucked, but making the decision to cut down and subtract (as Derek Sivers writes). Substracting is the secret to creating time and space in the things that truly matter. I still struggle with this as I’ve always added a lot to my plate, but I’m learning to exercise the muscle of simplicity and continue to cut unnecessary responsibilities. This is where adopting tools and creating a system of time tracking and productivity has come in. In many ways, it’s also been my saving grace and has allowed me to see where I should and should not be putting my time weekly, daily, monthly, and quarterly. My dad always says to follow the KISS rule: Keep it Simple, Simple (or Keep it Simple, Stupid). I am still working on this, but if I am ever not HELL YES about something, then I know for sure it’s a NO. Nothing in between.
6. Stop carrying around those dead branches. Trees don’t do it and you shouldn’t either.
More often than not, we spend unnecessary time lugging around sh*t that hinders us from growing into the people we know we’re meant to be. The more we keep stuff bottled up inside, the more it rots and slowly eats away at us (whether we notice it or not). It can become dormant, finding its way into our subconscious and holding us back in areas of our life that may seem completed unrelated. The first part of this year was spent letting go a lot of things that were holding me back. It wasn’t until I chose to let go, that I realized how much it created space to grow in other parts of my life.
7. You can’t do it alone.
Being the social creatures that we are, this one might seem obvious. However, in a time where it is becoming easier and easier to become an “entrepreneur”, build a brand, and/or work remotely, it is easy to feel like you can do it alone. The illusion of individualism as I like to say. The reality is that we need each other. We want to belong. Over the past few years I’ve felt the impact of community and this year, as I’ve began to be less nomadic, I’ve experienced the power of going deeper within existing relationships. Developing “adult” relationships with siblings, becoming closer to my parents, strengthening ties with friends, and creating space to collaborate in my work, and build new friendships has been one of the most important parts of this year.
8. The resilience of our bodies.
If you’ve read my PCOS article, you know about my journey finding alternative treatment methods over the past few years. This past year has been a roller coaster ride from beginning the year to now. I’ve managed to keep my hormones balanced for the most part (I’ll explain more in a separate, future post) and minimize my symptoms with vast changes to my diet, exercise routine, daily practices, and sleep schedule (although I tend to be a night owl and am working on this one still). It feels nothing short of amazing that I went from experiencing cystic acne, fluctuation in my hormone levels and went from doctors telling me that there are no other ways besides synthetic hormones (aka birth control) to now having my hormones balanced. For the second part of this year, I’ve began to thank my body each day for the way it continues to work with me. I’ve understood that while our bodies, especially the female body, may seem like some mysterious mechanism, it is a beautiful system that we have the power to listen to and work with to lead a healthier, fuller life. As I write these words, I’m sitting in an ayurvedic treatment center (the same one I came to in 2017) in Tamil Nadu, India. At some point in the next month or two, I’ll post more another blog post explaining how I have been since my first April 2018 post, the practices/tools I’ve learned since, and ways other women who are experiencing similar symptoms can also continue or start making changes.
9. Life doesn’t have to be so serious.
We are living in an age where there are endless amounts of self-help books, “gurus”, podcasts, and other resources. Two decades ago this was barely an industry and now we are surrounded by it. There’s nothing wrong with it in moderation, but I realized at a certain point that it can become too heady. As someone who tends to think through and about everything, I’ve been challenging myself to just be and enjoy life for what it is. I began dancing and playing music again and giving myself permission to not always be working towards something. Our greatest growth comes from not consciously thinking about it, but rather letting it organically and effortlessly become a part of who we are.
10. The world isn’t as messed up as we think it is.
I have been a part of too many conversations to count at this point which have ended in the other person feeling hopeless and in despair about the state of our world. As someone whose work resolves around solving interesting problems and talking to all different types of people, I quickly began to see a pattern both within myself and others. We tend to think the worst of other people without knowing their stories. This is something Jonathan Haidt calls the “us vs. them” mindset. When we begin to talk to people and go out into the world, we realize people are not the destructive monsters that our minds, other people or the media make them out to be. As humans, we want to connect to each other and ourselves, be acknowledged, be useful, and be loved. It’s pretty simple, yet our world seems so complicated. While I’m still aware of and practical about the problems in the outside world, I’ve taken a step back from this “hopeless” mindset and dialogue. It doesn’t serve me nor does it add to the value that I bring to the work I do. When I find myself defaulting to that mindset, I ask myself if I’m thinking or speaking from ignorance or fear. Usually it is one of the two.
11. Smile for no reason.
Before I moved to NYC, I was told that people don’t usually smile at each other. The first week I moved there, I learned the opposite. The moment we begin to experience a genuine joy to be alive, it’s magnetic. The moment I began randomly smiling at myself in the morning in the mirror and began doing the same as I walked down the street, strangers reciprocated. It might sound silly. At first, I wasn’t sure why random people were smiling at me, but after a few weeks, I began experiencing that other people can feel the energy. Since then, I began witnessing so much of what is said and done in the world is an act or a “drama” as my dad calls it. The moment we stop putting up an act for others and begin being and acting from an internal state of joy, the energy spreads.
There are a couple of more things that are coming up as I write, but I’ll end this post here and include those in some of my next posts. What are your takeaways from 2018? Did any of the above resonate with you? Please write to me or comment below! I can’t thank you enough for being along the ride in 2018 and am looking forward to hearing from you in 2019!!
With so much love and gratitude,