It was a twisty, bumpy ride; I drove my VW Beetle Convertible and A.J. was behind the wheel of a huge Penske truck that held everything we owned. Honestly, I was nervous that Penske wouldn’t be able to handle the winding, narrow mountain passes that surprised us with light patches of snow–IN JUNE. Needless to say, it was a nerve-wracking three and a half hours.

We were leaving our life in southern Oregon behind; little did we know, this change would be one of the best decisions we have ever made… Well, maybe the second best decision… Considering we did just say “I do” on a beautiful October day on the north shore of Oahu, surrounded by our family and close friends… I don’t think anything will ever top that decision.

All-in-all, this year has been the best–and one of the most defining–years of my life. I’ve learned A LOT, and it’s molded me into the person I am and want to be in 2018–and beyond. Here are some of the life lessons 2017 has brought me.

It’s okay to do something different.

I was living my dream, but it felt more like a nightmare. I dreamt of being a TV news reporter; I studied journalism, interned for the Scott Pelley Show and was offered a position as a Multimedia Journalist in southern Oregon. Storytelling was–and is–my passion, and television news was the vehicle for me to purse my dreams. I accepted the gig, and we spent nearly three years of our lives there.

I was in a confused state; I lost my hunger to work out, my prioritizations were out of wack and my appetite for personal success started to shrink. I realized it wasn’t what I envisioned–or wanted–for myself as a young professional. I knew I needed to make a change, but I was so worried what my family would think–I mean, I studied journalism, I thought I wanted that life. But, things change, and that’s okay. Since A.J. and I moved out of Medford, we both have been soo much happier and that bout of depression vanished. My passion for storytelling is back in full swing, and I’m able to use my skills–my talents–in a way that fulfills my passions.

Don’t overcommit.

I may have learned the hard way; overcommitting myself to things I didn’t want to do or didn’t have the capacity to do well. Life is short and there’s never enough time in the day, so the lesson learned: don’t commit to things I don’t want to do. Time is of the essence and that may mean saying no to a plan I had in place with my friend(s). I don’t need to overload my plate when it’s already heaping. I’ve realized knowing my limits is a strength, but if I go beyond those limits, that strength quickly turns into a weakness. Moral of the story: if your workload is nearing capacity as is, don’t take on coordinating the holiday party too.

Prioritize, prioritize and prioritize some more.

I rely on my iPhone for pretty much everything–it helps me get around town, it keeps me connected to whomever or whatever and it also holds many notes that I need for my life. The problem: whenever I open it, am I really that inclined and focused on reading those to-do lists, or would I rather check out my Instagram and see how many likes that one picture got? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Because of this easy distraction, A.J. recently bought me a planner, and holy cow, what an impact that’s made! I’m so obsessed with writing everything down–whether it’s a meeting I have to attend or a reminder that I need to go to the grocery store by Monday. There’s just something about putting pen to paper–it keeps everything in focus and for me, my scribbled writing has a higher level of importance than just a phrase displayed on my iPhone.

Prior to the planner, I’d lose my focus on the essential errands I needed to run, and they would get pushed to the next day. Since utilizing the planner, I’ve noticed I have so much more available storage in my brain; I don’t have to think about those essential errands because I’ve written them down, so that brain power opens itself up to remembering or focusing on other important things in my life.

Lastly, not only is it helping me achieve what I need to, but it’s also helping me grow as a young professional; prioritization, time management and organizational skills are important no matter what career path you’re on.

Networking makes the world go round.

Growing up in Orange County, California, I may not have recognized anyone at the places I frequented; the rat race often influences your day-to-day, and you may forget to do those little things like saying hello, holding the door open for someone and/or connecting on a personal level. We forget, this may even make a person’s day, but most importantly, it makes me feel good. At the end of the day, it may be cliche, but treat those how you’d want to be treated. These subtle acts all tie into networking; those people get a glimpse of who I am and sometimes, they want to know more.

Before moving to Bend, I never really understood the importance of networking, and now, I really have been slapped in the face with that reality. This is a small community, and most jobs aren’t even posted online. Sally needs a job filled, so she calls Marcy; Marcy knows everybody in town and hooks Sally up with Billy. Boom. Done. Billy has a new job and both Sally and Marcy are happy.

I am fortunate to have connected with those Sallys and Marcys; I’ve gone completely outside of my comfort zone and attended networking meetups. From those Sallys and Marcys, I’ve been a Billy, getting a job solely through networking. Aside from the job, I’ve also gotten to make new friends, have grown my list of mentors and have gotten smiles from those whom I’ve held the door open for.

Always continue your education.

Ya, I have a college education, but how does that make me different from most Americans? It doesn’t, but at the same time, I’m not very different from those without diplomas. You don’t need a college education to be successful, but I do believe you need to continue learning–however that may be–in order to be successful.

A.J. and I both believe there’s so much to learn, and we’re so hungry to take it all in. Not only does it set us apart from the others who are competing for the same things we are, but it contributes to our overall growth as young professionals.

This world is constantly changing, technology is always advancing, so why not grow with it? Continuing your education doesn’t mean you have to go back to school–although, it certainly could look like that for some people. For me, it means studying and getting certified in things that would help me do a better job at my work. There’s so much information for free at your fingertips; MIT offers free online course materials, Google has its Analytics program that allows you to learn and understand digital analytics and AcademicEarth provides free courses from top colleges–just to name a few. Don’t forget about your local community colleges that not only teach, but also contribute to your network. Some of the information may be dated, but it’s still free, applicable information. Life is short, so why not be your best self?

What a year!

Like I said, I’ve learned a lot and I’ve grown up a lot–and I’ve loved every step along the way. These are the life lessons I will take with me and continue to grow upon. But when I look back on this year, I won’t necessarily remember these lessons, but instead I’ll remember the challenges and those turning points which have made me into the married woman I am proud to be.

*This jacket has been a part of my wardrobe forever. I’m wearing my pink Juicy Couture snowjacket. The fur hoodie and trim really does keep my head and ears so warm.

Categories: Lifestyle

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