2016 Year in Review or Things I Learned About Life This Year

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Can you believe the year is almost over?  It feels like time just flies right by and I'm left in awe of space and time. 2016 has been a crazy year filled with ups and downs, twists and turns - but I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I've learned so many important life lessons this year, both at work and my personal life.  I took a real leap of faith this year with leaving my high-tech job to pursue my dreams and I couldn't have done it without the love and support from my husband, Chris, my friends and family.  Beyond that, I've grown so much as a person, a wife, a friend.

To close the year out, I'm doing a year in review with some commentary on lessons learned.

  1. Lovers and Friends

    My husband, Chris, and I celebrated our first year of marriage.  We've had ups and downs but it honestly wasn't as bad as many people led me to believe.  It could be because we've been together for six years, and lived together for two of them, but this year felt different.  This year we bonded and grew our relationship by two-folds with everything we went through from friends, to families to dealing with our own personal stuff.  When I decided to quit my job to start a new business he was (and still is!) my biggest supporter and fan.  He believes so strongly that I can do anything and everything and it gives me strength as a wife and a friend.  I feel so blessed that we're lovers and friends.

  2. Define your success

    From the outside I looked like I had it all in terms of work.  I was the Director of Marketing for a regional tech company reporting to the CEO, I was making over six figures, I traveled often and was admired and respected by my peers and mentors.  Except I was miserable.  I worked all. the. time. I didn't have room for my passions outside of work and everything I did and talked about revolved around work.  It took a lot of praying, writing and thinking before I made the leap to start my own business.  Even though it feels like I'm starting all over again, I couldn't be happier and learned that only I can define success for myself.

  3. Be thankful - always

    I'm more thankful than ever to my husband, my family and my friends.  I'm thankful for the Les Naly Team and for all the overwhelming support from my peers and mentors on this journey.  There will be ups and downs and nothing is ever as straight as we hope it to be, however,  I'm thankful and grateful for the things I do have and the people in my life.  No matter what, always be thankful and give back to those who help you along the way.

  4. Death comes like a thief in the night, so live well

    I mourned for two people this year and it made me realize how precious life really is.  No matter how bad it gets, or if I'm just having a bad day, taking just 5 minutes to myself for calm, quiet, happy reflection is crucial.  Death puts us face to face with our own mortality and also reminds us to live life to the fullest.  This year, I learned that twice.

  5. Dogs are a (wo)man's best friend

    I didn't grow up having dogs in my family.  With six siblings, it wasn't at the top of my parents' priority list.  This year, Chris and I finally decided to get a chocolate labrador, Taco (yes, we named her that) and I can't imagine life without her now. I feel like she's unveiled this other side of me that I never knew I had.  She is so smart and can read my emotions so well.  I just love hanging out with her and Netflix and chilling.  She truly is a joy and has brought so much happiness into Chris and I's life.

  6. Do more with less

    This year I lived incredibly minimally.  Not because I didn't have the funds, but I did so intentionally.  I didn't spend frivolously on clothes, shoes and handbags.  I used up all of my beauty and skincare products before I went out and purchased new ones.  I just wanted to reduce the amount of clutter and baggage I had in my own drawers.  Do you know what happened?  I realized I didn't need 10 types of foundation and I wasn't going to go insane if I didn't get a new bag every couple months.  I spent money on experiences - not things.  I actually saved money, paid off bills, got ahead and did so much more with less.

  7. Friendship is greater than distance

    Two of my close friends live very far: one in North Carolina and the other in California.  This year we celebrated 10 years (a freaken decade) of friendship!  I love them so much, and am so thankful and blessed for them.  Even though we live far, we still make time for each other through texting, 3-way phone calls, Snapchat, sending funny videos and sharing photos of our pets.  Honestly, on hard days, it's the highlight of my day to see a funny photo of my friends and their pets.  It reminds me that they're never too far away and that friendship is greater than distance.

  8. Move like water

    One of my life long idols is Bruce Lee.  I admire him for his discipline, solitude and philosophy on life.  He famously said, "move like water," and I learned how to do a lot of that this year.  Having a plan is good, but learning to go with the flow and being flexible are more important.  Instead of being rigid, learn to assess each situation from wherever you are and then make a decision.

  9. Milestones mean nothing

    Remember the hype when you turned 21?  It was a big deal, a big milestone and something everyone celebrated.  But it doesn't stop there.  There are milestones for graduating college, finding a job, getting married, having kids, etc.  Milestones can be good, but it can also leave you feeling miserable when you feel like you're behind or somehow inadequate because you haven't reached one.  I realized that milestones mean nothing if you don't allow it to.  Everyone's path and journey is different and you never know where anyone is in their journey.

  10. Compete Against Yourself Only

    When I launched Les Naly it was the most thrilling thing I've done in my entire life.  I received both good and bad feedback from various places.  The good was great, and the bad feedback gave me room to improve.  However, I found that people would often compare me to others and then decide the worth of my company for me.  Some folks thought I was completely wasting my time because I would never be able to compete against large publications.  Some folks thought I was trying to be another person within the fashion/beauty/lifestyle site categories.  In the end, I realized that everyone will always have an opinion, and I can only compete and be better than I was yesterday.  If I stay true to my authentic self, I see only collaborators not competition.

Every year is full of lessons and these are some of the things I learned this year.  In 2017, I plan on contributing more personal posts such as this to get to know you better.  Let me know if you like more personal posts like these below.

Cheers,

N.