Reflections - January 2, 2019

Lessons I Learned in 2018

grey jeans pink sweater black moto jacket and black booties
grey jeans pink sweater and black booties
brighton keller wearing grey jeans pink sweater and black booties, blog post on lessons I learned in 2018

This year I learned a lot about how to deal with being overwhelmed and doing something when you feel like you can’t do anything. So many of my days in 2018 were spent taking one small step in a positive direction.

I would get so STUCK. I’d think about ALL the things I had to do or what I wanted to happen or how I didn’t like how things were etc. And then I would think about how confused and unsure I was as to how to make things change which made me feel discouraged. And then I would get frustrated because I didn’t even know what I wanted. Does this make any sense?

But I learned that thinking like this – letting my mind run wild –  doesn’t help anyone or anything. All it does is paralyze us.

As someone that loves to think about the big picture and dream big dreams, I get stuck here all the time. I think it’s important to spend time thinking big. But it’s also just as important to break those big things down into tiny steps so our brain can process what to do next. And also, it’s even more important to realize WHY you want things to change and WHAT exactly you’re unhappy or discontent with. It’s important to make sure that our desires and values are aligned.

Things take time and change doesn’t happen over night. It’s okay to move slowly and it’s even okay to not know where you’re going.

Being able to rest in uncertainty and show up anyway has been a big theme for me this year. Because I’ve been in a situation where I know I’m not where I want to be, but I don’t know where or in what direction I want to go. So then the question becomes, how do I show up anyway and take small steps to do something rather continue to think about all the things I shouldn’t or should be doing.

Sometimes you just have to DO something.

I read somewhere that passion is the RESULT of action, NOT the CAUSE of it.

Going back to what I was saying above, I had to quit trying to figure it all out and just take small steps in a positive direction. I had to get over the notion that I would know what I wanted or where I was going and instead just show up anyway and be okay not knowing.

We spend so much time waiting to start things until we have our sh*t together or until we figure everything out or until the timing is right…or until it *feels* like the right time to do something. But is that even real? If you’re discontent with the way things are, admit it. Then ask yourself why and write it down. Think about what frustrates you or why you feel like things should be different. Start with where you are and identifying why you want to make a change. This will help you figure out what your next steps are.

Getting started is the hardest part. But when I simply focused on taking one small step, on doing something, I could do it. And oftentimes taking the first step gave me momentum to take the next step.

Related: The Do Something Principle

brighton keller wearing grey jeans pink sweater and black booties, blog post on lessons I learned in 2018

Words matter; say what you mean.

I tend to say things without thinking. I’ve always been a bit like that.

I’m working on it.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been reminding me to “get a filter”.

Bless her. I’m 28 and *still* a little too loose with my words. Sometimes it’s funny…because I blurt things out that people don’t expect. And then other times it’s not so funny.

Another thing I’ve come to notice is that sometimes I say things I don’t entirely mean or haven’t fully thought out – just to say something or fill silence. Maybe it sounds good or is fitting for the situation or circumstance, but most of the time I haven’t really thought through what it is that I’m saying. And then sometimes after I say it, I think to myself, wait do I really think that?

But other people can’t read my mind and I can’t assume they’ll give me the benefit of the doubt. Or I can’t expect them to know or assume I haven’t quite thought things through yet – especially when I have a matter-of-fact tone.

Others will take what we say at face value *unless* we CLARIFY. After making a lifetime of “word mistakes”, I’ve finally committed to challenging myself to be extremely careful with my words. It’s about time!

When I say something, I want to make sure I know what I’m talking about and truly stand behind it. Gosh, I feel so silly typing this out because that’s *such* an obvious thing to say, but I’d be lying if I said I always held myself to that standard.

I want to be someone who says what she means.

What does that mean, really?

Saying what you mean is about consistency between your thoughts and words. To say what you mean is a commitment to being honest, to truthfully represent your understanding, state or intent.

I’ve found that sometimes I’ll say things I half-mean or *want* to mean because I’m either people-pleasing or wanting to simply be agreeable. For instance, I might commit to do something I KNOW I’m not going to actually do because I don’t want to deal with the discomfort of explaining I don’t want to go or that I have other plans. So in this situation, I’d say something I didn’t really mean.

And here’s another issue I’ve run into. In order to say what I mean, my thoughts and my words must be aligned. In other words, my words need to reflect my thoughts.

But wait, what if I don’t even know my thoughts or what I mean?

Saying what you mean presupposes that you’re aware of your thoughts/belief/intent. I might be alone here, but a lot of the time I say things that sound good but that I haven’t actually thought through just to keep the conversation going or because it’s *agreeable*. When the truth is I haven’t really thought things through and I actually don’t even know what I think or mean. In this case, I’d rather admit this rather than make something up just to say something. And I realized that I was doing this without even realizing it!

Mean what you say.

Okay so if you haven’t picked up on it yet, we’re completing a saying here: Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Have you ever heard that?

The second part of this saying is about consistency between what you say and subsequent related behavior/actions (what you *mean*). In other words, meaning what you say is about keeping your word and following through.

This year, I’ve really learned the importance of being reliable and realized this is a growth area for me. I’m challenging myself to be careful with the promises and commitments I make in my everyday life. If I say I’m going to be somewhere or call someone, I want to actually follow through. It’s so easy to make excuses or justify your reasoning behind not following through on something, but it makes all the difference when you do.

brighton keller wearing grey jeans pink sweater, blog post on lessons I learned in 2018

The power of mindset (and that I had a fixed one that needed to change)

I was first introduced to the notion of “mindset” last year. I can’t remember exactly how it came up, but I think it was during the stint of time that I started studying Nick Saban and other successful people in January 2017. One of the common themes that kept coming up was the importance of mental toughness and that so much of success and progress is centered around getting (and keeping) your mind *right*.

And as the year went on, this theme of “mindset” kept coming up. We may not be able to always control our circumstances or the hand we’ve been dealt, but we do have a choice as to how we’re going to respond. How we interpret our situation – as either a challenging opportunity or something that’s doomed from the get-go – will absolutely dictate our experience. This year I’ve learned that I can play a big part in how this plays out – rather than letting my mind go unchecked. It’s important to be aware of your thoughts and hold them accountable to truth. Because our minds are extremely powerful and if we’re not careful, we may end up believing lies that hold us back or dictate our daily moods when it doesn’t have to be that way. We can take steps to change things and so much of it starts with our mindset.

After reading Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, I learned the difference between a fixed and growth mindset. Although the concepts were familiar, I’d never heard of these terms before.

It was incredibly interesting to read about her research on the impact that our mindsets have on our success and growth as individuals. I’m not entirely sure how I came to be this way, but I’m very much a pessimist. I’m prone to fall victim to thought patterns that keep me stuck and discouraged because I think *fixed* thoughts such as: I don’t have what it takes to do this, or I’m not talented, or other thoughts that lead me to believe things will always be the way they are in this moment.

I resonated so much with the fixed mindset that Dweck discusses in her book. People with a fixed mindset believe that their basic qualities like intelligence or talents (or even personality) are fixed traits. In other words, fixed-minded people struggle to believe they can change or grow over time.

This is SO ME! Anyone else?

I don’t mean to be so negative, but the reality is that I often am. And my negativity and fixed-minded thoughts have been holding me back. Identifying these thought patterns is the first step to changing the way I think and perceive challenges. One of my goals for 2019 is to continue to cultivate a growth mindset, embracing challenges, struggles, criticisms, and setbacks as a source of growth and powerful challenge rather than failure.

Small things can (and often will) become big things over time.

What we do everyday – the small seemingly insignificant things we do over and over again, little by little, step by step – matter the most in any endeavor. It is the compounded effect of daily decisions that govern progress and change.

It’s the consistent decision to make steps in a similar direction that leads to change and progress. What we do everyday matters more than what we do when we feel inspired or when things align/go our way. Knowing what you want and where you want to go (or what you want to change) is the first step. And then the next is committing to it by way of taking small, consistent steps in that direction. Make today a day full of small actions that bring you along your own path.

Aristotle once said, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

lessons I learned in 2018 wearing pink sweater black moto jacket

I may not be able to control my emotions but I can control what I do with them.

I can choose to let them dictate my life or put them in their proper place. Emotions and feelings are incredibly important but if we let them go unchecked, they can do some real damage. Oftentimes, I’ve found that if I don’t challenge my feelings with TRUTH, calling out and shining light on lies I’m believing than they can totally overwhelm and hijack my life.

Any decision is better than no decision.

I have to tell myself that doing something is better than nothing. Starting somewhere is better than not starting at all. Making the wrong decision is better than making no decision. This past year I got into the weeds on why decision-making is so difficult for me and even wrote an entire blog post on how to make decisions that covers the why and how behind the decision-making process.

Fear becomes less powerful when you identify it

I think step one in overcoming any fear-based hurdle is acknowledging that it’s fear-based. And then calling out and identifying what you’re afraid of is the next step. When you do this, you take power away from your fear. There’s something so powerful about diagnosing your thoughts and creating some distance from them – or even being able to look at them rather than just subject yourself them.

The Necessity of a Daily Renewing of my Mind

I tend to think that if I hear things once, I’ll remember them. Especially when it comes to things like the gospel and the truths that I so strongly want to align my life with. So I subconsciously forget how susceptible I am to getting sucked into the value system of the world – that more is better, popularity matters, and that what I do for myself is more important than what I do for others.

I forget how sinful I am and become disillusioned into thinking I’m strong enough to take on the world (and keep the truths of the gospel front of mind) without a strong commitment to renewing my mind DAILY. Nope. This year I was reminded of the importance of DAILY putting time in to renew my mind and align myself with truth every single day. 

It’s Okay To Not Know Where You’re Going or What it All Means

But as a general rule, I am not fully in control of my circumstances and future – God is. This year I’ve learned to accept that sometimes not knowing the answer…is the answer. That showing up, without knowing what it will mean, is sometimes all I can do. And that the discomfort of not knowing how things will turn out is what forces me to trust God. Sometimes walking with God and “trusting” Him means showing up in the discomfort and being okay with not knowing the answers. It means showing up anyway, trusting that God is in control of the big things and small. 

The urge to be self-sufficient is keeping me from true submission and trust in God’s Will

Taking this idea of “showing up amidst the discomfort”, I learned another lesson. So imagine yourself in one of these uncomfortable situations where you’re worried things won’t work out the way you want them to. And you feel as if you’re pushed into a corner and you’ve GOT to do SOMETHING right away to alleviate the pressure. It feels urgent. And you feel all the weight.

I learned that my overwhelming urge to want to do something to fix everything right away is me taking things into my own hands. In that moment, when I feel that pressure, I can either go to God and submit things to him or I can put on my let’s-fit-it-now hat and get to work.  I can choose to slow down and bring my concerns to God or I can believe that being self-sufficient is the only answer. That’s not to say that I don’t do anything – truth me, that’s not the answer either. I just think that these moments are opportunities to bring our actual problems to the Lord and pray over them, asking for guidance.

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