Happy 2014! Please visit me at IrinaBaranov.com.
A love letter to 2013, to blogging, and to you.
I started this blog in February 2012, as a place to begin a weekly writing practice. My hope was that my words may reach a few people and plant some seeds-of-thought that might bloom into good actions and positive results. Seventy-eight posts later, I’m proud to say that I haven’t missed a week. Some weeks were tougher than others. I didn’t have the time, I didn’t have the inspiration, I didn’t have the energy, but I “powered through” and posted a little article each week. My sincere hope is that some of my words landed where they needed to land – for you.
While it’s been challenging at times, I have loved writing to you every week. Please know that I am so grateful that you chose to spend some time with me. Our time and attention are the most precious gifts we can ever share, and you shared yours with me. That’s priceless.
I have also received other gifts from this experience, including:
- New connections. I “met” new people, as they hit the reply key and sent me notes in response to the weekly e-mail. It always made my day. If you’re ever on the fence about sending someone nice feedback, do it – just do it. Take that minute or two, and write. It will mean so much. As I always tell my kids, “don’t pass up an opportunity to make someone’s day – those are the magic moments of life – seize them.”
- Reconnection. I heard from friends and family members, with the weekly e-mail being a springboard to interesting conversations. Again, magic moments of life.
- Commitment. Some things are easier said than done. Saying marriage vows is easy and romantic. Staying with that commitment, in good times and in bad, day after day, is another story. Signing up for a gym membership and promising to work out 3 times/week is easy. Doing it beyond February is another story. Starting a weekly blog is fun and interesting (once you get beyond all the tech challenges). Hitting the “publish” button is exciting. But coming up with new content, carving out the time to write and doing it again and again every 7 days… another story. But here’s the beautiful thing about commitment – when you give your word (to yourself or to others), and keep it, something amazing happens. You grow and you glow. You develop both pride and humility (yes, you can have both at the same time). You grow “muscles” that you didn’t know you had. You start to believe that you are capable of more than you thought possible. Want to get on the fast track to confidence, happiness and higher self-esteem? Simple – make a promise and keep it. That’s it. Really. It’s this simple (and often quite difficult) – do what you promised to do. And watch yourself grow and glow.
- A new lens. When we take on new roles, we get to see the world through a different lens. Just ask any new parent. And the same goes for writers, speakers, artists, other professionals, retirees, etc. In writing this blog, I saw the world – experiences, thoughts, people – through a different lens. A wonderfully curious, introspective, purposeful and multi-dimensional one. If you’ve already had the pleasure of writing for an audience, you know what I mean. And if you haven’t, I strongly encourage it. Whether you just decide to write a weekly e-mail to a small group of friends/family/colleagues or maybe a blog, newsletter or book – try it – and I bet you’ll see the world with new eyes.
I’m so thankful for these gifts. And again, they were made possible by you. By your time, care and attention.
As I look back on 2013 (always a good thing to do during the last week of the year), I realize what an interesting learning experience I’ve had. Yep, that was my theme, in retrospect, the “year of learning.” Learning about beginnings and endings. Learning about starting a business. Learning about courage. Learning about honesty and intentionality. Learning about myself.
I’ve learned that I’m meant to be more than a life coach. I missed the business side of things too much. I missed presenting and working with groups. While I have been honored – so honored – to be invited into people’s personal lives to help them with health, relationships and purpose, I want to combine my dual passions of better business and better living. I’ve learned that when I’m doing my best work, it’s usually around a combination of business topics and life topics. So that’s where I’ll be putting my attention, time and efforts in 2014. More speaking, writing, consulting and executive coaching.
I promise I’m not going away – I will just have a new online home… to which you will be the very first invited guests! Please look for that invitation at the start of the new year.
And as we say goodbye to this year, I wish you:
* a sweet ending to 2013, with meaning and memories
* some quiet time to reflect on all you have accomplished, given, received and learned
* renewed energy, inspiration and goals for 2014
* surroundings of peace and beauty
* personal and professional growth
* opportunities to be of service
* nourishment that feeds your mind, body and soul
* intentional relationships
* and support systems which help you flourish
With love and gratitude for all I have been fortunate to receive, give and learn, I close out 2013 by saying goodbye to this blog, which I have so enjoyed writing. It, and you – my treasured first online “tribe” will always hold a special place in my heart. Nothing I do in the future will ever change that. If you see me out in the world and tell me that you were a subscriber to Custom Made Life – coffee’s on me. Deal?
“I love this time of year,” said my client. I smiled and said “tell me more.”
He started by thanking me for not just agreeing that it’s a great time of year, or assuming that he was talking about the holidays or the snow or the decorations. Ahh… it feels so good when people are genuinely curious about us, doesn’t it?
And then he went on to explain that he loves this time of year because the “tornado of his life” slows down. Work slows down. People finally take their vacation days. His schedule and obligations lighten up.
And finally… finally… he has some time to slow down, reflect, recharge and renew.
“So what does that look like?” I asked. “Oh it’s beyond words. It’s just so good. I have quiet time to reflect on what’s gone well this year, where I stumbled, what I want to improve; and then I set some important goals for the year ahead.” He also talked about recharging and renewing – how much it matters, how much it helps.
Sometimes the recharging/renewing takes the form of big things, like a week-long vacation, and other times, it’s simply an uninterrupted hour with a good book and a good drink by the fire. Or an interesting conversation with a loved one. Or a good night of sleep. Or a long walk. Or some “special time” with his wife. Or playing with his kids.
As he continued to talk about his end-of-year rituals, I began to think how most of us probably have some version of this triple-R process, especially toward the end of the year. We take stock of where we are (reflect), enjoy some relaxing time (recharge) and think/plan for the year ahead (renew). What a good thing to do! And maybe even worth the time/effort to capture and organize?
What might that look like for you?
For me, it’s something like this…
Reflect1. List all accomplishments (personal and professional) 2. Assess progress, looking back at previously-set goals 3. Write the story (usually with pen & paper) of what went right & what went wrong 4. Capture lessons, fine-tune thinking 5. Forgive (self & others) where necessary 6. Give thanks 7. Dream, wish, plan for the year ahead Recharge
Renew my commitment to improving the important categories of my life
Your turn. Try some triple-R action right now. Grab whatever you like to write on/with, and jot down a few quick thoughts. Then come back to it, as motivation strikes (don’t worry – it will) throughout these final days of the year. Want more inspiration and even better lists? Start practicing the 3 R’s today. Start small and see what happens. I bet your lists will grow. And by the time the New Year rolls around, you’ll have a really great foundation on which to build your resolutions and plans.