12 Thoughtful Gifts:
What We Give Each Other That Teach Us Priceless Life Lessons
12 gifts and reflections for business and life if I could go back and tell myself then what I know now
Twelve years ago this month, I closed the doors to my storefront and studio. As I reflect on this time, I see how much I've grown to love and admire the person I am now. Back then I was an insecure creative entrepreneurial mom with a dream. How far I've come. This past decade has taught me so much about myself. In my reflection, I hope these lessons inspire and guide you.
The first lesson that sticks with me is not taking anything for granted. The smallest thing can help you change for the better. Listen to your intuition and do not stop striving for your dreams. Don't be afraid to fight for them!
After Eight Years of Prosperity, Our Business Closed
Twelve years ago, many of us were all in a different survival mode. After eight years, the Great Recession struck us, which caused me to close my storefront and studio. My husband often traveled, so our three kids were in our oldest teenage son's care. I worked non-stop, and when I wasn't working, I was sick with worry. Every business around me was closing its doors. Big companies were suffering. My independent sales team was no longer working and taking other jobs to survive. How would I keep the lights on and continue to pay my team when I hadn't paid myself in months.
The guilt was suffocating. The stress is unimaginable now. I started working for myself to create a better life for my family, not to make it worse. Our kids never complained. They missed their parents and we missed them. I try to live my life without regret, but I do regret these lost moments with them.
My team only wanted to help, but they saw the writing on the wall with sales diminishing and clients no longer calling or coming. Family and friends were worried, though they could not help. I felt very alone those days.
In reflection, there were many lessons I learned. Like, how I measure success. My work ethic and values. Success then felt like a dangling carrot I strived for until I realized I had changed my perspective on what success meant for me.
Success for me has never been about making millions. I know it sounds sappy, but it is about making a difference and helping others.
Lessons on How I Measure Success Now
- Build a lifestyle business that allows me more freedom for a better work-life balance.
- I adore the excellent relationships with caring clients who appreciate my value as their marketing guide.
- Create a healthier mindset around money, goals, and growth.
- Carve out quality time for my family, friends and for myself.
- Make time to give back to my community and help make the world a little better.
- Continue to learn and grow, then clearly define who I am with my experience, expertise, and values.
A Life of Ebbs and Flows
Growing up the oldest with Baby Boomer parents from the midwest was a double sword. Like a knight going into battle, I proudly wore my responsibilities and work ethic armor. Yeah, it was all kinds of unhealthy.
Responsibility and a hard work ethic are part of my DNA and have taken years to untangle. It's work, but we made a huge lifestyle change last year to create a better lifestyle, and it feels incredible. Since we are newly empty nesters, we moved from Ohio to live on an island in South Carolina. It was the best decision we could ever make.
"Never judge a person by the chapter of their life you walk in on. You have no idea what got them to that point in their life."
My life looks very different from then. My career has changed, evolved, and grown into something I dreamed of finding. Ironically the things I wished I knew then, I know now. I recall wishing I had a crystal ball to know what to do to save my business. Now I do.
Today I guide service-based businesses, consultants, and nonprofits. Together we define their message to communicate how they can help their target audience. Then we use these elements to write compelling words that pulls the right people in and uses it in content marketing strategy efforts, so my clients are heard, understood, and have the success they seek. We develop content that create compelling business stories, better elevator pitches, presentations, programs, marketing materials, copy for websites, and so much more.
My Biggest Takeaways
Though it’s been a journey to get where I am today, I’m confident, happier, wealthier and wiser. All this took time, effort and consistent drive. The thing I’m most proud of is my confidence in my self worth.
Here are the other gifts and takeaways.
Success is different for everyone; determine what yours looks like. Strive not to compare yourself to others. It will only send you spiraling downward.
Growth starts within and doesn't happen overnight. Be patient and persistent. If you’re struggling, reach out. I know an amazing coach who can guide you. She helped me a few years ago and I’m forever grateful.
Love trumps fear every time. Giving yourself grace is vital. As Whitney Houston sang, "Learning to love yourself — it is the greatest love of all." As an enneagram 2 w/3 wing, I care greatly about others. In the past it was unhealthy. So practice self care. Say no and set boundaries. Make it a ritual like brushing your teeth.
Focus on the big rocks in your life first, then the pebbles and sand will fall into place. Stop worrying about tiny things like what to post on social media. It will be there when you have your life, and business priorities organized. The bonus is your posts will be better.
I thought marketing was only for larger companies, something I couldn't afford. Now I know if you are in business, you have to market yourself. The trick is to do it in a way that pulls your people toward you and not push your products and services out. That's a recipe for disaster.
Don't be afraid to share who you are with the world. Lead with empathy and share your passions, talents, and expertise. It's the best way for the right people to find you.
Rippling with Gratitude
Mike Kim is a mentor, who inspired me to write this reflection. I am grateful for his wisdom and inspiration. In sharing a bit of my story, I hope it inspires you to reflect on where you are and how much you've grown personally and professionally over the years. It's a great exercise and might help you as we enter a new year filled with new possibilities. Now it's your turn.
- Where were you ten years ago?
- How have you changed and grown?
These last two years have been uncomfortable for all of us. Grace and Gratitude have been my words during this time of struggle. I've often told my clients, colleagues, and friends, "I give grace and ask for it." Every day I wake up and remind myself of all I have and how grateful I am for it.
I am grateful for the opportunities and challenges I have faced in my life so far. If I could go back and tell myself 12 years ago what I know now, it would be to keep going. Never give up on your dreams or yourself. Learn from your choices and allow them to shape a better future.
I would tell myself that whatever you do, whatever you want, whatever your goal is, it will be challenging. There will be epic successes and painful failures. But if you put in the work, and don't stop pursuing your dreams, anything is possible to achieve.
In the end, life and business are a journey. They both consist of learning. Cherish and embrace the moments and live each day with grace, grit, and gratitude.