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Lessons Learned (and re-learned) Over the Past Year

It has been a LONG time since my last post - just over a year! I still have a long list of tips and tricks that I need to add to the blog. To revive the posts, I wanted to start off with one about lessons learned (and re-learned) over the past year. When I boil it down, there are three main things that stand out:

  1. Work isn't that important

  2. Do what you love

  3. Focus on relationships (which led to one of my most embarrassing moments - keep reading)

Work Isn't That Important

I set some really big goals for what I wanted to accomplish at work over the last year. Not surprisingly, I accomplished them. During that time, I received a couple promotions, which is pretty unheard of. But, it definitely came at a cost. I did not do very well at setting boundaries so I ended up working day and night. All those hours of working really affected my health, I stopped doing a lot of things I love, and I didn't spend as much time with people I really care about.

I'm very proud of what I accomplished in such a short time, but it didn't bring lasting happiness. For example, the excitement of my latest promotion lasted a couple weeks, and then it was back to life as normal. After that, I realized that I needed to look at the bigger picture, and decide what really matters most in life. And put some added focus to it.

I started by setting boundaries of when I would work. Unless absolutely necessary, I try not to work after 6pm, and not on weekends. My mental and physical health drastically improved when I set those limits. And, most importantly, it freed up time for me to do things I love.

Do What You Love

During my really busy period, I realized that I had cut some things out of my life that I really loved - tennis, skiing, working out, planning activities, and spending time with friends. I set several goals in January to get back on track.

For example, I set a goal to get back into tennis. So, last month I started adult tennis lessons. I also followed Wimbledon, which I haven't done in years. And I try to play tennis at least one time during the week. I forgot how much I enjoy playing, and it has been so much fun getting back into it! I hope I can keep up with it for a long time.

I plan to do the same thing with skiing. I was reminded last season how much I love skiing. But I haven't gone very much the last couple seasons because I'm so tired from working all day and night during the week, and I don't have the energy to ski on the weekends. But I've promised that I won't let that happen again this season, so it should be a great winter.

Focus on Relationships

I'm very lucky to have a lot of really great friends (many of them not pictured above). That hasn't always been the case. Making and keeping friends is a skill I had to learn later in life. Thanks to my best friend, Sterling, for teaching me how to be a great friend (a story for another time, but Sterling was an answer to many, many prayers).

I learned that it takes a lot of effort to make and keep those relationships. I didn't do a very good job at that last year. I turned all my time and effort towards work, and then tried to fit in relationships when it was convenient. Obviously, that didn't work out very well for me (cough cough, still single). You know it's bad when your cousin calls to tell you that her kids asked to fast for you one month so that you can find a wife.

As the saying goes, you are what you think about. And I think way too much about work. One of my friends suggested I make a vision board, focused on what I want most in life, and stick it on my bedroom wall. That way I would see it often and think about it a lot. Now, if you know me, you know I'm definitely not a vision board kind of guy. I'm a list guy. I have lists and notes in my phone for everything. Zero vision boards. But, I decided to give it a try.

I went on Pinterest and searched for a bunch of pictures of couples and people in relationships. Basically, what I envision it would be like if I ever fall in love with someone. And I printed them out to look like little polaroid pictures. Here's a very important note - this was never meant to be seen by anyone else. This was in my bedroom. Which leads to one of my most embarrassing moments.

A few months ago, I decided to get some blackout blinds for my bedroom to see if it would help me sleep better. These blinds deserve an entire blog post, so I'll make sure that's on the list next. So, I had the blind guy come over to look at the windows and measure them. The guy that showed up was this really big burly guy with a beard. He looked like he had just come from hunting. And I walk him into my bedroom to measure the windows. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the vision board on my wall. This is what he sees...

At first glance, it's just a wall of pictures. But he starts looking at them all really closely. And it's very obvious that none of them are the same people. And he asks me who they are! *PSA: if you work in other people's homes, don't stare at their pictures. And most importantly, don't ask about their pictures.*

I couldn't tell this guy that I had created a vision board on my wall. So, in a sudden panic, I blurt out,"those are just some pictures of friends and family."

Let me zoom in on one of these pictures...

Let's walk through a few friends and family situations and see if any of them are acceptable for someone else to have hanging on their wall:

Brother and his wife? No.

Sister and her boyfriend? No.

Best friend and his wife? No.

Random Pinterest couple? No, but I did.

Let me be very clear. There is no situation, except for if this was your wife or girlfriend, that this would be acceptable to hang on your wall.

Needless to say, the vision board came down before the blind installation appointment. But, I think it served its purpose. It may be the first time I admitted to myself that I really do want to be married. And I realized I was filling time with work since things haven't worked out as well as I would have hoped in the marriage department.

To get back on track, I made even more of an effort to be a good friend. Settings reminders to call people I haven't talked to in a long time, planning dinners and activities, and trying to serve others whenever I could find a way to help a friend (which isn't often, I have some pretty stubborn friends haha).

At the end of last year, I felt like there was something better and more important missing from my life, so this year I've been trying to reprioritize things and get back on track. And the added focus and rebalancing has definitely been paying off. I'm still working on everything, but I feel like my life is back in balance.



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