Elevate - 2016 Word of the Year Summary
Insert cliche about how much I can’t believe 2016 is almost over. It’s true, but I’m grateful. This year has been weird. I learned SO much, I grew my skills, I lost sight of my ‘Why’, I became incredibly sick, and I gained some much needed perspective - let me explain.
My word for 2016 was Elevate. I chose that word around November // December of 2015 - that’s when I start to think about the next year and what I want to focus on. In 2015, my word was Aware, which you can read more about here. That was the hardest year of my life. I was experiencing so many firsts, walking into so many unknowns and taking on so many projects and commitments. I ended up falling into depression for a while - but through it all I learned SO much and became really aware of how I was wired and what was most important to me. As a result, I wanted those newly realized important areas in my life to go to the next level - to elevate.
I had so many ideals wrapped up in my word. I wanted to elevate others and encourage them. I wanted to elevate my minimalistic / simple lifestyle. I wanted to elevate my health and eating habits. I wanted to elevate my relationships. I wanted to elevate my skills. I wanted to elevate my fitness. I wanted to elevate my relationship with God, but most of all [unconsciously at the time] I wanted to elevate my career and business. It was a lot.
I started out by taking on Project 1:36, a project in which I would tithe my waking hours to becoming healthier in mind, body and soul. I would dedicate one hour and thirty-six minutes to reading my Bible, preparing and cooking a healthy meal, taking epsom salt baths, etc. It was going extremely well. I was getting further along in my reading, losing weight and feeling relaxed and energized. It was going so well that I stopped keeping track of the time I was clocking because I was spending way more than an hour and thirty six minutes in those areas each day.
Then something happened along the way. I started feeling behind in my work and started pushing towards that. Slowly but surely, all of the healthy habits I had created and nurtured began to drop off. I decided to launch my business in August of this past year. It had been in existence since January 2015, but I had never “launched” it - put it out there.
So, I started putting all of my time into my branding, my website, my business card, the launch, marketing, sponsorships, the launch party - you name it. I began neglecting everything else. I mean, there’s only so much time in the day - right? The launch came and went and I hadn’t soared to the elevated level I was hoping for and expecting. I didn’t get it. I put in all of that work, where’s my success? [That was only four months ago - haha - grossly annoyed at how ‘Millenial’ that was of me. Don’t you hate it when you’re guilty of the things that disgust you? #human.]
Cue the anxiety, depression, weight gain and horribly scary two week long bout with meningitis that left me hospitalized and scared for my life. When you ask the doctor if there’s a chance you could die and he doesn’t say No right away - it’s a HUGE wake-up call. [I’m better now, no worries :)]
Throughout the year, I kept getting little signs centered around gratitude. First, essentially every podcaster I listen to has been talking about gratitude practice for at least ten years. Second, my Pastor talked about his own gratitude journal in one of his sermons. Third, my friend was posting her gratitude practice daily. Fourth, my husband - after being inspired by said friend, suggested that we start doing a gratitude practice. And somehow, after all of that, I still didn’t get it right away.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I felt God really working on my heart. We were in a giving series at church, in preparation for our end of year offering. Carl and I participate in it every year and I knew this year would be no different, we just had to come to an agreement on the amount.
Due to my impatience with not yet working full time on The Classy Hippie and it still being freelancing, we decided to save up a six month emergency fund so that I could quit my day job and focus on getting TCH full time in a six month window. We started doing that in August // September, but before that, we were saving up and paying for the launch of The Classy Hippie. So from May until December, we hadn’t paid anything on our debt except for the minimum payments.
I knew that was hard on Carl. I knew it was hard for him to stop paying on debt so that I could design full time - because THEN I’d be happy. But that’s the thing, we kept making allowances so that I would be happy but they’d only last about a month and I’d be unhappy again, dissatisfied with where my life was.
During these past several weeks, I finally got it. My career and success would never elevate if my gratitude for where I am right now never did. I had to learn that the scene I’m in right now isn’t the story of my life and that I’d never get to the part called significance if I kept trying to skip over the part called sacrifice. My ‘eventual’ success isn’t even about me. If I have some elevated success, it will be because I’m successfully helping and serving those I was meant to help & serve and that's the point.
Sure, I worked a lot in 2016, but a large portion of it was misdirected and misguided. I tried to force so much into happening, when it just wasn’t the time yet. I tried to do it my way and to do it alone for so much of the way. When I came to that conclusion, I knew we needed to give what we had saved up so far in our 6 month emergency fund, which was SO close to being completed.
Why? Because that money represented me trying to force my own timing and my own plans into happening instead of letting things happen organically and naturally and in God’s timing. It represented my complete stubbornness and my abandonment to our financial plan of paying off our debt. For eight months out of this year, we hadn’t put anything extra into paying off our debt and that’s all because of me. I wasn’t doing my part in contributing to our family or our future.
Whoa - that’s heavy. Once that wave of realization washes over you, there’s no going back. We were giving that money and not going back to saving up for another 6 month emergency fund like I had initially wanted - no, we were going back to our plan of paying off debt, working two jobs, freelancing and studying for an architecture license. Once the debt was gone - then and then only would we go on to saving up our 6 month emergency fund. Back to the plan. Back to the steps.
I established a lot of really wonderful and healthy habits for the first half of the year, but then I got horribly off track and terribly ill. I know we often wish that our lives wouldn’t come with struggle, pain or illness and that we would just stay on prefect track, but that’s just not how life is. It’s not perfect and it doesn’t happen on our schedule. We can plan and do our part, but even then, it can get derailed. If it weren’t for the struggles from time to time we wouldn’t grow. We wouldn’t gain the necessary wisdom or knowledge we need to get us back on the right track.
:: Sigh :: 2016 - what a whirlwind. I’m glad I learned so much this year, but most of all I’m glad I got humbled. I’m really looking forward to 2017 and getting back on track. I’m looking forward to being in alignment with my husband and the goals we have for our family. I’m looking forward to bringing back those healthy habits I created. I’m looking forward to building // finding and serving my tribe. I’m looking forward to hunkering down, developing my skills and just - going deeper and getting better.
Which leads me to - not just my word this year, but - OUR word for 2017 is… [Coming Soon]
What was your word for 2016? How did it pan out? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
Love & Blessings,