Reflecting on 2021 and lessons I learned

I intended to write this blog post yesterday but instead spent New Years day sleeping in, watching hours of television, going on a long pawmily walk, & re-organizing our closets…. it was GREAT.

When I reflect on 2021 it was honestly one of my favorite years, which is such a weird thing to say given the circumstances. We’re still dealing with COVID, the capitol riot was appaling, wildfires continued, and San Francisco faced lots of looting. Despite these worldly encounters though, 2021 was personally great for me because of my mindset primarily due to my 2020 experience. 2020 was a challenging year for me mentally. I had a few breakdowns from quarantine, lost my energy fueling outlets, and overworked SO much that I got burnt out.

I knew how I wanted to enter 2021 based on these past experiences (old blog post) so entered 2021 with immense gratitude, appreciation for life, and re-framed my priorities. Shifting my mindset along with re-gaining new experiences with those I love, contributed to an overall great year.

Lessons I learned in 2021:

Conserve your energy for things that matter

Overworking in 2020 left me little to no energy to do things I love. The worst part was that it also started making everything (even blogging) feel like a chore because I was constantly mentally drained. It might sound bad, but in 2021 I started doing the bare minimum at work (but doing it well lol) since I was recovering from burn out and realized work should never get 110% of my energy.

When you look at your values, what is it that actually brings you fulfillment and joy? For me it’s spending time with my family & friends, being creative through content creation, working-out, and my relationship with God. The things that truly fulfill you, are the things you should conserve your energy for and prioritize. While work is important because it provides a means and way to enjoy life financially, it should not be where you exert the majority of your energy (unless you actually love work and it’s prioritized high in your life). Save room for the things that matter, including yourself!

Prioritize your life based on your future aspirations

2020 was the year Josh and I wanted to get pregnant. When COVID happened we decided to pause, but when it became apparent COVID wasn’t going away we started trying Fall of 2020. When it became Spring and I was still not pregnant we decided to stop trying and instead enjoy life to the fullest knowing once we have a baby, life won’t be the same.

Our future aspirations of growing a family made me re-prioritize my values. I stopped working so hard because the stress was not helping and I made a ton (maybe too much) travel plans to enjoy my independence and free time with family/friends before having a baby. Re-prioritizing my life helped me mentally in so many ways. I found myself happier, way less stressed, made many new/fun memories, and really lived up my 2021.

Let go of things that weigh you down

This one is tricky since sometimes time is the only thing that can heal all wounds, but in 2021 I learned to truly let go of relationships that weigh me down. I became more intentional about who I spend my time with, focusing on quality VS quantity (quarantine also helped with this). I also went through a bad friendship breakup a few years ago and still thought about it time to time. I went through all the phases of a typical break-up… denial, guilt, pain, anger, resentment, and while I accepted it, I never let go. I secretly wanted revenge and hoped something bad would happen to this person, to make them run back to me and for them to realize and admit how they were wrong. I was disgraced at myself for thinking this and knew something had to change.

In 2021 I listened to several podcasts and one that really resonated said how forgiveness is 100% on you and your mind. Instead of hoping for something bad to happen, instead wish for something good to happen to this person. It’s such a powerful and weird trick, but altering your mind to be happy and wish for good things to happen to those you despise, makes you like that person more. The podcast helped me realize that you never know what someone is going through (despite what you see on social), how past trauma’s affect how people handle situations, and everyone is deserving of a good life. We’re only human, and we’re all trying to get by the best we can. I later found out that good things did happen to my ex-friend and was genuinely happy for them. It brought warmth in my heart knowing I finally let go of bitterness and resentment, and that we both moved on and are living good lives with or without each other.

Work smarter, not harder

I feel like working 9-5 is an old school approach to corporate, and it’s more about the quality of work and getting your work done well. I’ve always heard of working smarter, not harder but didn’t really adopt it until 2021 and let me tell you… it is game-changing. Instead of working “just to work a full shift”, I prioritized getting the important things done and being ok logging off when I’m done, even if its before 5PM. It’s not about the hours or how much you work, it’s about producing good work and getting everything done. We need to stop feeling guilty about not working hard enough, and get rid of the stigma that overworking is cool because it’s not, I had no life when I overworked.

Take more breaks in between work

I never took breaks in 2020 and when I did, I felt guilty about it so kept it short. In 2021, I started taking actual breaks during work by doing laundry, yoga, and even mid-day showers and it is amazing! Prioritizing my mental health with these breaks ended up making me much more productive at work too. These breaks also made me appreciate work more since I was grateful to work at a company with the flexibility to WFH and do random errands at 11AM. It’s so important to take breaks for your mental health and now that I know how much it positively impacts your well-being and contributes to work productivity, I’m always encouraging my team and others to take breaks.

With all these learnings, I look forward to 2022 with a bigger appreciation for life focusing on things that bring true joy and fulfillment. I hope this post helps you achieve a greater year and mindset. Happy New Years everyone!

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