First, thank you to everyone who’s followed along here with my little blog! Thanks for subscribing, commenting, or just reading without commenting (that’s totally cool, too!). To everyone who’s put their trust in me this past year (hey, work people! hey, freelance clients!), thank you, too. It means a lot. I’m so grateful, too, for all of the new people and opportunities that have come into my life over the past year. 2012 has been a big year for me with good parts (travel! blogging! fun times! new experiences!) and bad (health issues! more health issues!), but overall, most things in my life are better than they were a year ago, and that’s a pretty good place to be.
The end of any year tends to be a time of self-reflection and analysis. What did we do right or wrong this past year? What have we learned? What’s really important? In that spirit, I’ve put together a list of things I hold to be true and principles that I’ll be using to guide my thoughts and decisions into the new year.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Relationships are everything
When I was in school, I thought I was preparing well for my future by studying hard and getting good grades. Years of formal education gave me the impression that the world was a meritocracy. Do the work, impress the teacher, and everything you desire is yours.
Yeahhhhhh, not so much.
Now, I’m not saying that being a good student and being skilled at what you do isn’t important. Sure it is! However, I am now of the firm belief that how you present yourself and who you know are just as important. In other words, in life, relationships are #1. Cultivating and maintaining genuine relationships makes just about everything in life better. You get the first crack at opportunities before they’re publicized, you have people you know spreading the word about you and your awesomeness, and really, it’s just plain nice to have people in your life to hang out with through the good times and the bad. Having a mutual support system is so vital for one’s mental health (or at least mine). If I could do university all over again, I’d spend less time in the library and more time meeting people. True story.
Context is king
(Or queen, or gender-neutral ruler of choice)
If you live on the web like I do, you’ll have probably heard the phrase “content is king”. My twist on that is that context is king. In life, in business, and in just about everything, context is critically important. What I mean is: what works for someone else might not work for you. What is true for you might not be true for some of a different age, ethnicity, location, or life experience. What was true for you ten years ago might not be true anymore. Everyone has advice to give, but it may or may not actually be useful in your life. Let’s think of this in terms of design, to take this more into the realm of practicality. Blindly copying an aesthetic from a designer you admire isn’t nearly as useful as trying to understand the thought process behind it and integrating some of those thoughts into your own work, in your own context. If you design for clients, it’s probably more important to understand their niche and their users’ needs rather than try to get on the front page of Dribbble, you know? And to take this back to life in general, this means that you may not be able to always understand someone’s actions or motivations because you’re not living their life and haven’t had their experiences. Knowing this makes me keep more of an open mind, and try to understand rather than immediately judge.
Anything worthwhile requires risk and vulnerability
When I think about all of the positive things in my life, I realize that they all required a certain degree of risk. Sure, maybe it feels safe to keep your routine the same, only ever hang out with the same people, stay in that comfortable but boring job, and keep your opinions to yourself (at least that way no one will ever disagree with you, right?). Although living like this is safe, it doesn’t reap any rewards. Living an exciting life requires taking some chances and opening yourself up. And don’t think I’m just talking about grand gestures and large-scale action. Confession time! Just starting this blog was terrifying for me. I hated the thought of people thinking that my writing is stupid and potentially even, like, judging me and stuff. But you know what? Keeping yourself hidden away in the name of not being judged or criticized means no one will ever think anything of you because no one will know that you even exist. So be open, and fuck the haters, ’cause haters gonna hate.
This may or may not be my last post this year. (I like to be indecisive like that sometimes.) If it is, see you in 2013! :D
I have a confession to make: I’m a complete information junkie. I love reading books and blogs, taking courses, listening to talks, and otherwise acquiring as much information as I can on just about every topic of interest.
This is my bedside table. I am actually in the middle of reading every one of these books, I shit you not.
Inspiration is a big buzzword these days, and for good reason. It’s important to be creatively energized and it’s really great to be able to see beauty and promise in the world around us. There are countless websites and books that are what I like to think of as aspiration porn. They make us want better, more interesting, more beautiful lives.
Inspiration is great, but it can also be dangerous. Why? Because it’s way easier to be inspired and to absorb information than it is to actually do something. It’s easier to think, to read, to plan, and to overanalyze than it is to actually take action and make changes in our lives. This applies to the little things like making that DIY craft project you keep saying you want to try and remembering to floss every day, all the way up to the big things like making major relationship and career changes.
I’m a total information junkie and always will be, but I have to constantly remind myself that although knowledge is power, going one step further and actually taking action is way more important.
Don’t live your life just inside your head. Don’t settle for merely being inspired. Go ahead and take a baby step (or, a big leap, if you prefer) toward building the life you really want to be living.