13 Things I learned in 2013

In no particular order….

  1. Life is fragile. Our health can’t be taken for granted. I personally knew 3 people in cancer treatment this year. All young and healthy before diagnosis. Thankfully, all are survivors. But we can’t assume that will always be the case. I will try so hard not to take my health for granted and do what I can to honor my body and take care of it.
  2. Children grow too fast. My son turned 10 this year. In 10 years he will be grown and out of the house more than he is in it. The past 10 years have gone by in a flash. I imagine the next 10 will, too. I make time for my son on purpose. I don’t hover or micromanage his life, but I do intentionally spend time with him alone and with his dad. We are his foundation for his beautiful life ahead.
  3. The stuff we collect eventually becomes meaningless. My 95 year old grandfather passed away last week. My family is cleaning out his home and my aunt said, “Most of the stuff will be donated or thrown away.” That is sad, but also freeing for those of  us still alive to make decisions about our stuff.
  4. We can make money many ways. I experimented this year with money making. I can make it through selling services, information or stuff (see #3). I see the world of work and  making money shifting in big ways. The days of a static “career” and predictable paycheck are disappearing. We all need to become flexible in how we make our money.
  5. It’s ok to quit something that isn’t working. I closed my private practice in June 2013. It wasn’t working well. I had clients and made money, but it felt “off” and didn’t feed my soul. Closing was a huge relief.
  6. Every decision is temporary. I re-opened my practice in November 2013. It’s in a new location with a new business model. I really enjoy the work now. Sometimes we fear change because we assume it’s permanent, that once we head down one path we can never circle back or adjust our sails. This year I learned that change is continuous and flexible.
  7. Stepping away is productive on a biological level. I learned from reviewing the science and through personal experience that literally walking away from my work makes me more efficient and productive. Our brain functions on many levels and when we only do “thinking work” we exhaust our pre-frontal cortex and get sluggish. When we leave the thinking and start moving and using other parts of our brain  new ideas “pop” and we can return to our work refreshed a short time later. All of my best ideas come when I’m outside walking. I could be listening to birds and then have a brilliant brainstorm about my work (like, “Hey, let’s re-open the practice closer to home!”).
  8. Working from home has pros and cons. I love working from home for the quiet, lack of commute, ability to be home when my son needs me and the comfy clothes. Working from him can also be isolating and lonely. I get detached from other people who can fuel my ideas and energy. In 2014 I plan to get out more and connect with like-minded folks who can challenge, inspire and offer feedback.
  9. I’m in a healthy marriage. You know when you’ve been married over 10 years and you start to question, “How did I get here?” We all do it. This year I tested my husband’s trust ( see #5). He wasn’t keen on the business changes, but he supported me anyway. My guy isn’t the most emotionally demonstrative, but his steady presence, encouragement when I got overwhelmed, and grace in NEVER uttering the words “I told you so,” or “it’s time to get a ‘real’ job,” meant the absolute world to me.
  10. Your business is only as good as the people you work with. I have a team of assistants that are phenomenal. From replying to email, phone calls, designing my graphics, bookkeeping, delicately handling money stuff and keeping ME on track they are All Stars. I reached out to some new folks to assist in other projects this year with poor results. Many never returned emails or didn’t listen or understand my vision. I pay my team well and they are worth every penny. If I couldn’t count on them, I’d be sunk.
  11. I work best with clients who are ready to “do,” rather than those who are seeking to “think.” There is nothing wrong with thinking and contemplation of next steps. I’m just not the right person to engage in that process with people. Truthfully, I’m a bit impatient and highly excitable :). I like to see new things come to fruition. I love to be part of the process of seeing someone empower themselves to do. their work.  My focus is the “B” in CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and in coaching as well. I’ve known this about myself for awhile now. 2013 was the year I just admitted it to myself and designed programs to support my strengths.
  12. My biggest “ah-ha!” was to view my business and online space as a constantly evolving space that isn’t “done” or perfect. I started a new blog (http://susangiurleo.com) and have left it open for all to see as it evolves. I think of it as an open kitchen or open studio space. This takes of ALL the pressure to get things done by a certain time line or in a certain way. If I decide to change my mind, I can do so without stress or apology (see #6).
  13. All the good stuff in life comes from relationships. Family, friends, clients, money, contentment all spring from connecting with others. Marketing isn’t about marketing, it’s about relationships. Your business doesn’t make money if you don’t help people in some way. Of course, your personal life ebbs and flows based on relationships. I have made wonderful relationships in my community and online. I consider some I have met on Facebook and Twitter friends. I enjoy doing deeper work with my clients because it allows us to get to know each other. I can be more helpful when I see someone at a deeper level.
  14. BONUS:  I can trust my gut. I took risks this year. I followed my gut. Disaster didn’t befall us. We had to adjust some expenses, simplify life, but 2013 was the first year I ever took time off from work. It was time. I can trust my inner voice. I can trust I’ll be responsible.

What does all this mean for 2014?

I’ll do more work I love.

I’ll spend more time with the people I love.

I’ll do what it takes to know more people in my community and online.

I’ll worry less about every decision. None of them are permanent.

I’ll continue to minimize the stuff in my life and put more time and money into experiences with people I care about.

I’ll continue to work with clients who are ready to take action to change the world.

I’ll be forever grateful for my health, my family and those who choose to spend their time with me here in my little online space.

Thank you for being a part of an important year of my life.

What did you learn this year? How do those lessons  inform your plans going forward?

Ready to generate new business with meaning in the New Year? Join me for my new FREE webinar, “New Year, New Business: 12 Ways to Grow Your Small Business in 2014.” Click here to read more and register.

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