Five Life Lessons I Learned In 2012

Happy 2013!!!  Are you the type of person who wakes up on January 1st with a sense of excitement and anticipation for the new year?  I am!!

There’s just something so invigorating to me about the first day of the first month of a brand new year.  A time of new beginnings and fresh starts.  A time of reflection, goals, and plans.  A brand new calendar filled with empty squares that are full of possibilities.

2012 was an amazing year for us.  After the horrible year we had in 2011, we were determined to have a good 2012, and by sheer will and determination, we made it so.  And it was a HUGE learning and “growing up” year for us.  Here’s what 2012 taught me:

1.  Self-control isn’t something you have or you don’t have.  It’s something you do.

For so many years, I was on a path towards self-destruction with my eating.  I was gaining weight year after  year after year, making horrible decisions on what I put into my body, and things were spinning out of control.

I tried one diet after another, and failed each time.  I tried to stop drinking Dr. Pepper (which was literally the only liquid I was putting into my body the last half of 2011), but it just seemed too hard.

I convinced myself that I just simply didn’t have the self-control that other people seem to have.

HOGWASH!

At the end of December 2011, I decided enough was enough, and on January 1st, Matt and I made some huge changes in our lives.  And as of yesterday, I can proudly say that we went an entire year without eating one single bit of fast food or drinking a drop of Dr. Pepper (or any other soda).  And we went nine months straight without eating out at a restaurant at all!  Only in the last three months did we allow ourselves to enjoy some non-fast-food restaurant food, like our favorite local Mediterranean restaurant.

We’ve both lost weight, feel much better, and realize that we prefer eating smaller, home cooked meals and not having that stuffed pig feeling after meals.

I lost a total of 50 pounds during the year, which I’m very pleased with (even though I do still have quite a ways to go).

Before last year, it was as if I was waiting around for something to “kick in” inside my mind that would make me start losing weight.  I finally learned that any task that requires self-control is a decision.  And when I finally decided to have self-control, I found that I had a pretty large reserve of it buried deep inside of me.

2.  Being overwhelmed wastes precious time and energy

When I look back on 2012, I realize that even though it was a fantastic year, I spent a good deal of time just being overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed that my condo was a mess.  Overwhelmed at all the projects I still need to do in the condo.  Overwhelmed at the pressure of blogging every day now that blogging was my full-time job.  Overwhelmed at the number of people who were entrusting me with their blogs.  Overwhelmed that all of the cooking, cleaning, projects, shopping, taking care of our pets, and everything else is completely my responsibility because my husband can’t help me with hardly any of it.

Just…overwhelmed.

And when I’m overwhelmed, I spin my wheels.  I escape by wasting time online.  Or by watching shows on Netflix.  Or by busying myself with things that aren’t important at all.

All of that is time and energy that I could put towards actually doing the things that need to be done…the things that would decrease that feeling of being overwhelmed.

I’m going to take that lesson and make some serious changes in 2013.  I’m going to turn that overwhelmed feeling into positive energy and action.

3.  Being disorganized also wastes precious time and energy

I wish I could say that I ended 2012 being completely organized and ready to start 2013 off on the right foot.

I can’t say that.  But I have learned more than ever the value and importance of being organized.

I’ve never been an organized person.  In fact, I’m quite messy.  I have really no organization for my tools, and when I work on a project, I feel like I spend half my time looking for stuff.  Where can I find a Philips screwdriver?  I have no idea.  Perhaps it’s in the bucket by the front door.  Or maybe I stuck it in a drawer somewhere.  Or maybe I shoved it in a basket in my office.

Part of the problem is that I live in such a tiny place with very little storage, so stuff just kind of piles up, and then gets pushed around.  I’ve always got tools stacked by my front door.  Since the only place I can use my tools is just outside my front door on the sidewalk area, they always seem to land right here just inside the door when I’m done.

Isn’t that lovely?  When someone comes to my front door, that’s the first thing they see.  What a great first impression!  :)

So in 2013, I’m going to use some of that newly discovered self-control, and I’m going to put it towards getting organized.

4.  You  never know what you’re capable of if you don’t take risks.

2012 was a year of transition for me, and I absolutely love where I ended up!  I started the year as a full-time blogger, and I ended the year as a blogger who also designs blogs and websites, and helps bloggers move from Blogger to WordPress.

Doing the WordPress business was something that I talked about and planned for a few months before I actually did it.  I’m definitely a planner and a dreamer, but sometimes actually starting the very thing I’m planning is a tough step for me.  I think it’s a fear of failure that holds me back.  But last year, I decided to put that fear aside and just do it.

Can I tell you a secret?

When that very first person came to me and said, “Can you move my blog from Blogger to WordPress?” I said, “Oh, of course!”  But inside, I was terrified.  In theory, I knew the process that needed to be done.  But I had never actually DONE it before.

I actually considered backing out, but in the end, I made myself go forward with it.  It was definitely a learning process along the way, but now the process has become very simple for me.  And taking that initial leap…that risk…and challenging myself to do something that scared me a bit has now turned into a thriving side business.

5.  Saving money isn’t impossible like I had convinced myself.

Matt and I have been living on cash only for about six years now.  But even though we haven’t been racking up huge amounts of debt, we’ve never really been good with our money.  In fact, having a savings account was really a foreign concept to us.  Sure, we wanted to save money, but we had convinced ourselves that we simply didn’t make enough money to save.

So we continued on, month after month, living paycheck to paycheck, and spending money on things we really didn’t need (like eating out three times a day in 2011!!!!).

But in June of 2012, things changed for us.  We had started off the year so good, eating every meal at home.  So we should have been saving money, right?  But where the heck was it going?!!

So at the end of June, after I saw the house that we’re hoping to buy for the first time, we decided to reevaluate our finances because obviously our bank account had sprung a leak, and we needed to find that leak and plug it up if we ever hoped to buy a house.

In July, we decided to get serious about saving money, cutting out extras where we could.  We didn’t cut out ALL of the extras, and I still got my $500/month allowance for doing projects around the house for my blog.  But we definitely cut out a majority of the extras.

And lo and behold, our bank account started filling up like it has NEVER BEFORE in our ten-year marriage.  I never thought that we were capable of it, but I look at that ending balance in our account for 2012, and I’m just amazed.  I honestly did not think we had it in us, but it’s amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it, and when you have a goal.

And our goal?  A (potentially) cute little house full of possibilities.

Motivation is a powerful thing.  :)

 

So what lessons did you learn in 2012?  And what goals do you have for 2013?  I’d love to hear about them!!

Gosh, I love a new year, don’t you?!

 

 

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Comments

  1. says

    You have proven that you have it in you to do whatever you want! Absolutely amazing transformation, on all levels. Heres to another fantastic year.

  2. Carrie says

    Congratulations on your year of improvement in 2012! The lessons you learned are hard and important, and I still struggle with some of them. You should be very proud of your accomplishments.

    • says

      Thank you, Carrie! I’m definitely proud, but trying not to rest too much to admire my accomplishments. :) That’s where I’ve gotten stuck before, and I don’t want to fall into that trap again. I want to keep moving forward! :)

  3. says

    You are an inspiration! I am so impressed with all that you have learned in 2012. I have learned a few things myself such as eating habits and controlling my anxiety. I hope that you succeed with further learning and reach all your goals for 2013. One foot in-front of the other with baby steps, that is all I can do each day. Have a wonderful 2013!

    • says

      You’re exactly right, Colleen. It’s one step at a time, one decision at a time, one day at a time. Hope you have a fantastic 2013!! And congratulations on your own life lessons about eating well and controlling your anxiety. Those are big ones!!

  4. says

    Kristi—you look great! And congrats on all of the things that you accomplished in 2012! I am looking forward to 2013 and hoping that it will be a year to remember…..2012 was probably one of the most challenging years we have had in the last decade. My husband is going through a job change and started his own business….money is slow and tight. I’m the only one with a steady paycheck. It has been HARD. We have two little kids and have cut out so much extra stuff…..I have done like zero house projects!!! ; ) We still manage to tuck away a bit of money each month, but my parents have helped us out a bit…as well a few curveballs were thrown our way that we were not expecting. We’re not badly off financially, but we’ve got a ways to go.

    I feel so much more confident that we can handle anything that life throws at us, since we’ve been dancing to its tune so much. I’m not as scared of change as I used to be. I am hoping this is the year that things turn around for us and we start being on the winning side. We have a lot to be thankful for, so I’m excited to close the door on 2012 and look ahead to 2013.

    I love your message about turning the negative into the positive. I’m going to work on that. Keep up the good work, girl!!

    • says

      Oh Jennifer, as I read about your past year, I was reminded of those feelings that I had in 2011 (our most challenging and…well…AWFUL year thus far). I’m so sorry about the challenges you’ve faced. I pray that you’ll come through stronger than ever (and it seems like you’re heading that way), and I hope that 2013 will be a wonderful year for you!!

    • says

      Thanks so much, Julie! I honestly never thought we were capable of it, so “amazed” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. That house is becoming more and more of a reality for us each day!! :)

  5. says

    This is awesome- you have so much to be proud of. You accomplished quite a bit. I can’t wait to see where you go moving forward. Inspiring!!

  6. says

    Hey I do believe we are living parallel lives. Kudos to you for getting off the Dr. Pepper train. Face the thing you fear the most and the death of fear is certian. I don’t know you but I do love design and re-doing things. I’m proud of you for taking control of your health and finances. Whoo hoo! Success builds success. I only had to lose 10 lbs but either way it still takes focus and dedication. I’m the same as you with the organization issue, also jumping in and say yes without really knowing if I can do something. But it’s good we need to push ourselves. Keep up the great work!!! Happy 2013 Elaine M. Rushlow C.K.D.

    • says

      You’re very welcome, Deb! I don’t think that any of us get to a place where we don’t stop learning. I’ve been blogging for six years now, and I’m still learning new stuff every day! :) But I’m happy to pass along any info that will help others.

  7. Nancy says

    Your post is wonderful, thank you for sharing. It is very inspirational. I am going to try living on cash only. We don’t have any debt, but I find it easy to spend money when just using a debit card. And great to lose 50 lbs! You matter so much more than that inanimate thing we call food which is simply here to sustain life, not burden it. And it never fills the empty places, only Christ can do that. Have a great new year!!

    • says

      You are exactly right, Nancy. Trying to fill the voids in our lives with food and “stuff” just doesn’t work…a lesson I learned the hard way. And I had to lean on the Lord every step of the way last year. :)

  8. Becky says

    Congratulations! You should be sooo proud of yourself. I love reading your blog and I can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring. You inspire me!

  9. says

    What a year, Kristi! You have accomplished amazing things. You should be so excited and proud. I bought your e-book to transition from Blogger to WordPress so I can’t wait to read your expertise and guidance. Congrats on a great year and here’s to a wonderful 2013. See you at Haven!

    • says

      Good luck on the blog transfer, Karen! I heard from two people in the last couple of days who used my ebook and said the process was really easy. :) I know you can do it!

      So excited about Haven! I’ve never been to a blog conference before, so that’ll be a first for me this year. :)

  10. Sandy says

    I’m so proud of you. A big congratulation on all that you learned and achieved. We’ve been married a long time and still apply the lessons that you are learning. These are lifetime lessons and will help you in every part of your life.

    • says

      Thank you so much, Sandy! And you’re right, we’ll be learning and re-learning these lessons over and over again as we apply them to different aspects of our lives. Before last year, it seemed impossible to me. Now I’m ready to face that challenge, and I’m confident that I can do it! :)

  11. Debbie says

    You’re weight loss is fantastic and inspirational. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing your pictures and projects. Looking forward to see where 2013 takes you. Good luck! After a lot of years I realized that lists and wishing only take you so far – you just have to do it (or in the case of Dr. Pepper, not do it).

    • says

      You’re absolutely right, Debbie! It takes action! I’m definitely a list-maker, but I’ve never been good with the follow through. :) Now I feel like I can take on the world! :-D

  12. Cheryl says

    Congrats on all that you’ve done and learned!! I, too, just got off the soft drink craze that I’ve been on for about 20 years! I love all of your other learned lessons and will put them into my plans for what will be an amazing and wonderful new year!

    • says

      Congratulations, Cheryl! That soft drink habit is so hard to kick, isn’t it!? I tried and tried and tried for YEARS. By the end of 2011, I was probably drinking about 96 ounces of Dr. Pepper PER DAY!!!! I’m surprised I survived it. And I went cold turkey. It’s felt so good, and I don’t ever plan to go back!!

  13. Jerri C. TN says

    It’s simply amazing how things change for the best in every aspect of our lives when we begin to LOVE OURSELVES. You loving yourself has given you so much to be proud of. Congratulations!!!

    • says

      You’re absolutely right, Jerri! And re-learning the definition of “love” is imperative as well. Loving myself doesn’t mean allowing myself to indulge in everything I want, anytime I want it. Loving myself means making good choices that will make and keep me healthy. That was a big lesson for me. :)

  14. says

    Kristi, you are so real and I relate to so much of what you say. You are so inspiring! I also love the idea of a new year and a fresh start. I like to review our ongoing goals to see where we’re at, tweak them if needed, and make new ones. Wishing you a happy 2013 and rooting for you to have all your goals become reality! Sharon

    • says

      Sharon, you have just paid me one of the highest compliments by saying that I’m “so real”. Seriously. I strive to be real in my posts, so that was a huge compliment to me. :) Happy 2013 to you also!

  15. says

    Wow, what an inspiring post! I am going to bookmark this and refer back to this, I have the same issues you have and this is a great inspiration. Thank you and Happy New Year!

    • says

      So glad you found it inspiring, Deanna! I seriously still feel like I’m on a “high” from last year, and I feel absolutely giddy about this year, and continuing with the things I’ve learned, and putting other things into practice that I need to improve upon. Happy New Year to you as well! :)

  16. says

    Kristi, you’ve always been an inspiration, but you hit the nail on the head with those for me too.

    Its time I re-evaluated my life, got rid of things I no longer need and got things going in the right direction again.

  17. Khadija says

    Oh, just a thought. One of the best things I’ve found for storage of odd items (like your tools) is one of those mid-century modern long-type dressers. I am chronically disorganized but these types of dressers help even me! HTH

  18. Carol says

    Thanks for such an inspirational post. I have the problem with eating and staying
    with a diet and you have inspired me. Love how you used the word “self-control”
    instead of just will-power and how it’s a choice you make. Also just love your blog
    and all the great ideas with furniture and decorating. I’m a new reader of it and I
    so enjoy it! Thank you!!

    • says

      I actually grew to hate the word “willpower”. It’s become such a catch phrase in the diet industry, and It seemed like such a passive thing. Using the word “self-control” on the other hand, placed the responsibility squarely on my shoulders. :) I’m still learning, and I have quite a ways to go, but I’m certain that I’ll get there! Before last year, I was always certain that I could never do it.

  19. says

    What a moving post. With your attitude, skills and intelligence, I know you’ll be able to do whatever you set your mind to. You inspire all your readers, no matter what challenges we face. Thank you for your honesty, and may I say, you look beautiful.

    You need a chest in your front hallway.

    Have a wonderful year. I know you’ll get into the house you want.

  20. says

    Great inspirational post!!! And you look amazing ;) I appreciate your honesty and love how you took on your challenges and fears, fear is one of those things I struggle with and you looked it in the face, wow! Here’s to 2013!!

  21. says

    1,2 and 3 are me, too. Thank you for your honesty. I finally have discovered the joy of cooking and along with my organic farmer friend, am able to make some really delicious meals. I try to be organized but are in the middle of a complete house makeover so it’s a real challenge. 2013 will be a good year and I wish you a Happy New Year for you and your family.

    • says

      How fortunate you are to have a friend who is an organic farmer, Eileen! Organic veggies and fruits can be so expensive! I wish I loved cooking, but it’s just not my thing. We get stuck in ruts with our eating. I need to learn to branch out a bit more.

  22. Kelly Palmer says

    Congratulations on all of your accomplishments in 2012 and I look forward to seeing all that you do in 2013! Have a Happy and very Blessed new year Kristi :)

  23. says

    I really liked your post. So much that I sent it to my non-blog reading hubby (doesn’t even bother to read mine). I asked him to read it so we could discuss some of the things in it. He did and we had a very positive discussion and highlighted some things to work on.
    Thanks for all that you share here.

    • says

      That’s fantastic, Dee! I can tell you that getting started (whether it’s losing weight, saving money, or any other big thing like that) is the hardest part. Once you start to see results, it’s almost addictive! :)

  24. says

    I’m so envious, $500.00 a month for projects related to your blog. W-O-W! I know you have to spend money to make money but this would put me into heaven. My allowance is $40.00 a month for everything! But you have obviously done a great job and your condo upgrades are just lovely. Hopefully you will get much of that “investment” back when you sell your condo. You probably already know this, but do be aware that a house is a money pit!!! My husband and I often talk about how much money we would have to spend IF we did not have a house, as ALL of our money not spent on food, insurances, medical and two old vehicles goes into maintaining our house and property! Sigh.

    Small House / Big Sky Donna / White Oak Studio Designs / SW Michigan
    Hand-Painted Vintage Furniture Transformations
    Blog: http://smallhouseunderabigsky.wordpress.com
    Facebook: [email protected] (for portfolio of chalk painted work)

    • says

      You do have to spend money to make money, but we also have to spend money if we ever want out of this condo. :) I don’t think anyone would purchase it in its present condition, with most of the rooms in the state they’re in. :-D I need to get it done ASAP so we can sell!!!

      We’re definitely aware that a house will be more costly. That’s one of the main reasons we’re buying such an inexpensive house, so that we can pay the mortgage off in 18 months, and then be mortgage-free, which will free up our money for fixing up the place and for savings if something breaks. But I’m definitely willing to take the chance for more room, a large back yard, and a workroom all to myself to use my tools!!! Just thinking about it makes me giddy. :-D

  25. Deborah says

    Excellent job on the weight loss. It is amazing what “impossible” things we can do when we truly focus on a goal and not just think about it. I am so amazed that you could buy a house and pay if off in 18 months. What freedom and security that would bring to anyone. When I saw the picture of your tool storage I wanted to tell you what worked for me. I bought a “rolling workshop” that I could fill with tools and supplies, even a circular saw, drill and extension cords! You can roll your supplies right to your project and afterwards hide it in a closet! As long as you put things back in you will always be able to find them. LOL This is a similar product at Lowe’s that you might want to search for:
    Stanley Rolling Workshop Item #: 123179 | Model #: BTST19802
    Blessings for 2013!

  26. Lisa T says

    Wow, congratulations on your terrific weight loss! I decided to lose weight this year, too and lost 21lbs! I loved this post as so many of the things you listed relate to our life, too. Losing weight, being overwhelmed by life’s situations, organization, overwhelmed, and did I mention being overwhelmed?lol I really appreciate the way you decided to tackle these things in your life! Proud of you! Wishing you the very best in 2013!

  27. Rhonda Travis says

    This is very exciting and I’m so proud for you! I hope to do better this year on my weight as well and doing more with my time.Thank’s for sharing:)

    Rhonda

  28. Mykl says

    Congratulations on your weight loss! But even more congratulations on your self discovery! I can completely relate to so many of the challenges you have faced down. Last year I left my job to focus on my furniture refinishing and upholstery business full time and I’m really struggling with believing I can actually make a living at it. Despite very positive feedback from others, I have myself convinced I’m not good enough or organized enough to make this my career. You have inspired me and given me some ideas of steps to take to make it go! I love your blog!

    • says

      Self-doubt is such a powerful negative force, isn’t it? I personally have to make a conscious decision to put it out of my mind on a daily basis….if not several times a day! But congratulations on deciding to pursue your passion, Mykl! So few people have the courage to do that, so you’re way ahead of most people. I hope you have a tremendously successful year!! :)

  29. says

    It’s funny how I can read this post and be like, “I didn’t realize it, but I learned that this year too!” =] Congratulations on your weight loss by the way, you look great! I have some home to-do lists/goals I want to do this year. I am trying not to get overwhelmed by it all (like you mention). There’s so much I want to do but I have a full time job so time is restricted. And being on a budget means there might be a project I really want to do but can’t afford. I am just going to try to do as much as I can, when I can.

    My blog right now is a wordpress.com blog (not self hosted). Would it be hard to make it into a self hosted blog?

    • says

      Always so much to do, and so little time!! I hear you! :) Last year, Matt was constantly telling me to stop looking at the big picture, and just take one small step at a time. I have such a hard time doing that, but he’s so right! That’s my goal this year. One step at a time. :)

      It’s not hard to move a wordpress.com blog to self-hosted. You just go to the export page, and download a file to your hard drive, and then upload it to your new self-hosted WordPress blog. Very simple! Designing the blog is where the challenge lies for most people. :)

  30. says

    First of all, congrats to you on ditching soda and fast food. It can be done. :) I’ve been on nearly three years gone of both, and it has really improved my health.

    I’m with you on the saving portion. Thanks for motivating me on that front.

    2010-2012 was a dark cloud of expenses for my family {mostly due to huge bills from my son’s autism}, but with more drive than ever…I’m determined to get us on the right track this year. Like, I’ve stopped buying everything at Target but diapers for my son {I’d still cloth if he weren’t in school} and toilet paper.

    I hope you blog more about the saving issue. It’s so big for bloggers…

    Here’s to a great 2013 for you…my fairy blogmother,

    Much love,
    Nicolette

  31. says

    Congratulations on you & your husband’s weight loss! You look fabulous! I hope your move to the house happens soon for you. Your post really got me thinking…I need to take better care of my money. And I need to figure out a schedule!
    Happy New Year Kristi and all the best in 2013
    Debbie :)

  32. says

    Nice list and congratulations on your weight loss! For me these were hard realizations about my online business. The good news is I will let time-wasters go and concentrate on what works. You are very inspirational, Kristi.

  33. Sue says

    Happy New Year Kristi! Congratulations on the weight loss and the goals to get and stay organized. I learned several years ago that if I am going to craft/make things, I have to get organized and much more will get done. I can see that you are also doing that, as well. Here’s to a great 2013 and making your dreams come true!
    In 2012, I focused on the word ‘Faith’ and have found myself leaning on my faith more often and learning to put trust/faith in God’s hands with great results. I’ve also shed 16 pounds since October and have set a goal to lose 20 more this year. Baby steps…

  34. says

    Kristi, you are a gal after my own ambitions. I LOVE a New Year, I feel like it is a chance to improve myself, and leave behind things I wasn’t too happy with in the previous year. I can completely relate to #2 and #3. I recognized myself in feeling overwhelmed and wasting time online, and definitely recognized myself in what a waste of time not being organized is. I can’t tell you how many times I “lost” something in my garage that I needed for work, and spent a good 20 minutes or more looking for it. Only to be so annoyed with myself that I wasn’t organized in the first place.

    To remedy this problem, I am NOT creating an impossible to do list each day. Only a few things, and if they don’t all get done, oh well, there is always tomorrow. Over the holidays, I pulled every last piece of junk out of my office. It was liberating. I gave away bags of stuff I will never use, and threw out a bunch more. I ripped up the carpet, sealed the concrete and today, just finished painting the walls. I am so excited about having a “clean slate” to work in.
    I have an entire home filled with unfinished projects, rooms, etc. I have committed myself to finishing every detail of my work space before I move onto another project. I know that by treating myself like I treat some of my clients, I might actually feel more productive, and the sense of completion will give me the confidence to move forward and tackle the next unfinished project!

    This is a fabulous post, just amazing. HUGE congratulations on your weight loss, you look beautiful, and so happy for you and your husband that owning a home is getting closer each day! Happy New Year!

  35. says

    Kristi, You so inspired me with this post that I wrote about it on my blog today as part of my “Personally!” Saturday post series. Thanks for writing about your hopes, dreams and successes! Julie

  36. Kshama21 says

    Kristi, thank you so much for sharing. I am so very happy for you and pray that you’ll keep up the good work. You have inspired me today and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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