The 3 Biggest Lessons of the Year


As I look back and reflect on this year, a few major lessons come to mind. I feel they’ve immensely shaped how I think and act.

The lessons of this year carry with them opportunities to approach challenges differently. I hope you find them useful. So here we go.

Top Lessons of 2015

Below are the biggest lessons I’ve experienced that I intend to use in the future.

1. Routine is the magical instrument of meaningful change.

This year I got more into working with systems and routines—some were intentional, and others were purely accidental. And I’m happy to say I reaped the benefits.

I’ve simplified many areas of my life by using a preset sequence of actions and choices. Besides the morning and night routines I mentioned here, I have systems in place for finances, house cleaning, and personal care.

Routines and systems may appear boring. They’re not. On the surface a routine can feel dull, but it’s one of the best things you can use to change your life.

Predetermined decisions and action steps are the best antidote for resistance and decision fatigue. When we automate certain parts of our lives, we save our discipline and willpower for more challenging and demanding tasks and projects.

This subject is so extensive that I won’t do it justice here. I’ll just highlight the areas where I feel routines can be of great help.

  • A morning routine prepares you for the day with calm ease.
  • A bedtime routine releases the stress of the day and prepares you for a restful sleep.
  • House cleaning schedules will keep your home clean without struggling to find the time and energy to take care of your home.
  • Learning can be way more fun with a process for acquiring and applying knowledge. Structured online courses are a great example.
  • You can automate all of your personal care requirements with a routine—what to wear, when to get a haircut or a manicure, or how and when to exercise.

These are personal examples. You can create a system for anything. The beauty of systems is that they can be adapted to grow with you.

2. Trust life more than anyone or anything.

This year I suffered an injury that still lingers to this day. I’ve had to go through many tests, plus massage therapy and chiropractic sessions.

I felt more stressed about the tests than the pain. I’m thankful that my organs are fine and in all likelihood the pain relates to muscle strain.

I’ve learned that medicine is not an exact science. Sometimes doctors are making the best educated guess. Tests are very helpful in giving doctors direction. But they may not provide solid conclusive answers.

After a couple of months, I decided to go with my gut feeling and just trust life. Here is why.

Self healing: The body has an amazing ability to heal itself. All the prescriptions and medical procedures won’t work without our own body responding favorably. So I’ll listen to the doctors when I need to, but I’ll always listen to my body more.

The unavoidable: I truly believe there are certain events in our lives that cannot be prevented, or avoided. So at one point, even if I do every test possible on the planet, and something major is meant to happen, it will. I can’t stop it.

Whenever I feel anxious, I allow myself to feel the fear and then go within and choose to trust that life has my best interest at heart. No matter what life has in store for me, it won’t be as bad as what my mind conjures up. And even if it were, it won’t last.

Mindset and self care: Every physical challenge can be an awakening. The pain caused me to examine unconscious habits and lack of self care. I started doing more stretches, and using heat to relax sore muscles, and I felt much better.

We are the ones responsible for taking care of ourselves. It is our number one job. We can’t delegate or outsource this responsibility.

3. Loss can be liberating.

Losing physical (or digital) possessions can be frustrating. We tend to avoid loss and what comes after.

I often resist change, especially the changes that I didn’t choose. But sometimes the things that appear bad on the surface can be a blessing in disguise.

A site hacking freed me to do something different. Losing files gave me peace of mind not to worry about them any more.

Loss by definition is about what we gave up—unwillingly. So we tend to focus on what’s missing. But in that space lies an opportunity for something to gain, or something to ease our pain.

Looking within the pain, and the empty space a loss leaves behind, will help us see the new that’s emerging. If we can’t see anything new, at least we’re free from the responsibility of caring and protecting the possessions we lost.

Instead of crying about what was, we can surrender to what is, and trust what could be.

As I wrap up this article I want to take this time to say thank you for being here. You inspire and motivate me to keep going. Through you I learn and grow. I’m very grateful.

I hope 2015 was a great year for you, and I wish you a very happy 2016.

For more lessons from past years, check out these articles.