Well, tomorrow is my birthday and I will be turning 34. To some of you reading this that will seem old and to others, it will seem young, and that’s ok. My age doesn’t really matter for what I want to share today. I am approaching entering this new year of my life sort of like I prepare for New Year’s Day. I am reflecting on the past year and thinking about what is to come this year. This has led me to compare my last year with ones from the past, and here’s what I want to share—I loved my year at 33!
How this past year has been different
Back in 2010, my life got incredibly messy. It was awful. Every year since then has gotten better, but every year on my birthday I felt discouraged because I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing the things I really wanted, and needed, to accomplish. I was growing each year, but I also felt incredibly stuck. It was frustrating. So, each year it was kind of like thinking, “Crap, I’m another year older and still in the same place I’ve been in before. Is it ever going to change?”
This year isn’t like that and it’s because I’ve experienced LOTS of change over the past year. But, the funny thing is, it isn’t the changes I was waiting for that brought the biggest changes in me over the past year. I was waiting for my circumstances to change, but it was my mindset that changed instead.
Don’t get me wrong, my circumstance changed a lot, but they didn’t change until my thinking changed and the actions that I was willing to take. Here are some of the changes (some are mindset and others are circumstances) that changed in my life last year:
I became an entrepreneur
Throughout my life, I have wanted to be at home. I didn’t want to work outside of the house. When my husband and I built our first business I thought that was changing. We loved owning our own business, but as we grew it took us away from our kids and each other more and more, even with employees helping us. We sold that business and eventually ended up working under contract with our church. I loved the experiences that I had and the people that I was working with. There are so many things I enjoyed about that job, but there came a time last year when I knew it wasn’t right anymore.
I was going in too many directions and praying about how overwhelmed I felt all the time. I knew I needed to give something up, but didn’t really expect God to tell me it was working for the church. But, that’s what happened. And, it has been an incredible experience for me, both working in the church and stepping aside.
So, when I left that work I threw myself into content writing as a freelancer. It has opened me up to some amazing opportunities that I would never have gotten if I was not freelancing full time. It also allowed me to work from home, or the library, or while on vacation sitting on a balcony overlooking the beach. My world was expanded, in a good way.
I became more confident
One of the clients I was able to work with because I gave up a more steady job is a business coach, consultant, and speaker. He wrote a book on Confidence and one of his passions is helping people build confidence and leadership skills. Just through my work with him I have been, and am continuing, to learn SO much.
I have learned how to take chances, recognize my success, and not be overwhelmed by my failure. It turns out this is what you need to do in order to grow your confidence. And, let me break it down a little more—it doesn’t need to be big risks or big successes in order to work.
Here’s an example from my own life. I hate making phone calls to people I don’t know. I actually break out in hives when I have to talk to someone on the phone. My heart races. My palms get sweaty. It’s like I’m getting ready to stand on a stage in front of thousands of people when really I’m only speaking with on the phone and they can’t even see me. It’s crazy. For years I wouldn’t even call to order a pizza because of it. But, after becoming a freelancer this is something I had to start doing, and not just phone calls, video calls as well. Now, it’s still not my favorite thing to do, but I don’t dread it either. I can handle it and my confidence has grown because of it.
That was a “risk” I took and every time I had a phone call with someone I acknowledged that I had a success. It really is as simple as that. I could go on and on about growing your confidence but will have to wait another day to share more on that.
Fear started losing its grip on me
It’s funny when your confidence starts to grow fear starts to lose its grip on you. There are still plenty of situations that I feel fear about, but I am able to overcome it faster. Fear is starting to lose it’s control of me because I am starting to believe more in my ability to succeed and not be so afraid of failing.
When you realize that failing at something does NOT mean you are a failure you aren’t as scared to try it. When you learn to overcome the desire to give up every time you fail you aren’t as afraid to try. And, when you learn to give yourself a little grace you start to see that the risk is worth the reward.
I stopped looking at other people like they were better than me
And, no that doesn’t mean I think I am better than them either. It simply means this: I used to be very intimidated by successful people because I always felt less than, not good enough. (If you struggle with that read this article). But, I learned that we are all just people. Yes, there are LOTS of people in this world more successful than I am, but that doesn’t mean they are better than me. They might be better than me at some things. But, they are still just people and they struggle in areas as well.
How did I come to this conclusion? I started talking to and listening to people that were a lot more successful than me. Through these conversations, I learned they are normal people. They have struggles too. Sometimes they feel like they aren’t enough. They deal with imposter syndrome. They are just like all the rest of us.
If you know me this is something that my family wanted and tried to do for years. Well, it actually happened during my last year and it was nothing short of crazy. When summer started we put our house on the market. We had multiple offers within days. The sale process moved along and we went on vacation. On vacation my husband interviewed for and accepted a job in Florida. We went home for a week, packed up all of our belongings, and started driving down to Florida.
Along our route, we lost all peace. We prayed hard. There were tears, doubt, struggle. It was messy, but we were on the same side so it was good. We stayed one night in Florida and headed to Kentucky. It’s crazy, right? I will share more on the many lessons we learned from this experience another time. But, we moved and it has been exactly what our family needed. It broke us from our comfort zone, provided the fresh start we desired, and opened our eyes to the way life is outside of mid-Michigan.
We started homeschooling
Our crazy move resulted in us making the decision to homeschool for several reasons I will not share today. This was something we were not planning on doing but is a decision that has been wonderful. I love the additional time I am getting to spend with my daughters. I like that they are not being exposed to some of the things they would be if they were in public school still. Because I am teaching them I know what they are learning, where they are struggling, and where they are excelling. I love seeing them enjoy learning. Homeschooling wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t taken the step to become a freelance writer, work from home, and control my own schedule.
I started connecting with more women
Throughout the past year, I have connected with some amazing women and they have helped me to grow in many ways. I joined a membership group that is full of female entrepreneurs around the world. Last week I sat on a video call with four other women and there were three different countries represented. I love it! Not only am I learning so much from them, but I’m also learning that even though we live across the world from each other we are the same. We have the same struggles in our businesses, the same doubts in ourselves, and the same need to connect with others throughout the journey.
When we moved we needed to find a new church, which led me to join a women’s Bible study in 2018. I have met some amazing women through this group. I’ve also started to meet some amazing homeschooling families as well. I have had to put myself out there more than ever before.
Here is why I’m sharing this
I’m not sharing this in an attempt to brag about myself. I’m sharing it because I have loved my past year. Through all of the areas I am learning and growing, I am becoming increasingly passionate about wanting to help others do the same. Life can be incredible, but we need to take action and grow to experience this. I think many people wait for good things to happen to them. I think this happens in the Church even more. As Christians, we know that God is in control overall so we sit back, ask, and then wait for things to happen to us and for us. But, over the past year, I have learned that while God is in control, it doesn’t mean that we are to sit back and wait. He gave us the ability to think and take action.
In the book of Proverbs, the Bible tells us to be like the ant. Have you ever watched the ants? They don’t stop. They are constantly working to prepare for what they will need in the future. We can get better. You can grow your confidence. You can have or create a job that you love. You can overcome fear and anxiety. You can love your life. I’m still learning and working on it (and always will be), but I have loved the changes I have experienced while I was 33 and can’t wait to see what I will accomplish at 34!