Welcome back to Delightful Gems, my blog where I dive into all things beads, jewelry-making, and small business. If you've been around for a while, you know that I usually publish new blog articles every other Wednesday at 6am EST. However, I'm deviating from the usual blog schedule to share some end-of-year thoughts. 

I'm pretty sure that most of us take some time at the end of the year to reflect on the year that we've had and the year we hope to have. Some of us choose to also make resolutions. Others approach the new year as just another day. Whatever you choose to do, if it works for you, it's for you.

I have tried making resolutions in the past. Not necessarily because I wanted to, but because that was presented in the media as normal practice and I thought I should follow along. Probably for every year that I made resolutions, I failed at actually achieving them. That's not to say that I didn't try to be successful. The problem, for me, was that I arbitrarily picked a "goal" based on what society and the media had portrayed as my flaws. My heart was not into it because the whole process stemmed from others placing negative thoughts and seeding insecurity. I eventually decided that resolutions were neither healthy nor suitable for me. 

For 2023, I decided to claim a guiding word for the year. This word would serve as a goal, reminder, inspiration, and point of reflection. My thought process was that I would take an honest assessment of where I am at the moment, what I have experienced throughout the current year, what I don't want to repeat, and what I want to experience and/or achieve in the coming year. I didn't want to get stuck on specific goals. Rather, I wanted to focus on overall growth.

My guiding word of the year could and would be applied to every part of my life, rather than just one specific task. This also provides room for flexibility. We all know that when life situations become overwhelming, we tend to deviate from our plans/structure because we don't have the bandwidth to handle it all. Opting for a guiding word rather than a resolution automatically provides the space needed to give yourself grace if you are not "perfect" every day. 

My guiding word for 2023 was ELEVATE. This was my first time doing this and I knew that I wanted to challenge myself to grow personally, professionally, and within my business. I didn't have a true framework in mind, other than knowing that I wasn't happy and I needed to actively work on changing that. I made the promise to myself that whatever actions I took this year would be with the word ELEVATE behind them.

Some of you might have watched a lot of my journey this year as I chose to be more open and visible on social media. That was one of the first steps in honoring my guiding word. I knew that I could not sit quietly in the background and expect to achieve growth. I decided to commit to being present on my business IG page daily - sharing morning/afternoon greetings, sharing glimpses of my day, going live, etc. - to connect with others and start building a community. There were stretches when I just couldn't do it but I was open and honest about that as well.

Another key part of my journey was to invest in a career coach. I knew that I needed to figure out where I wanted/needed to go on my career journey, while also on my entrepreneurial journey. I needed to do the work to understand how my previous experiences have impacted me, to honor my various accomplishments, to understand what I needed for myself and my family, and to accept all that I am. This wasn't easy work, but as I recently reflected on 2023 and then shared with my husband, it was key to achieving a level of growth that I was finally able to recognize earlier this month. 

The most important step I took this year was also the most uncomfortable for me - I went outside, repeatedly! 😳. You might not quite get what I mean, so I'll explain. I am generally not comfortable in most social situations. I like my quiet time and I'm very self-conscious and self-critical. I constantly question if I truly belong in spaces and I often stay to myself because I don't know if people want to hear what I have to say. I stepped way outside of my comfort zone this year. I applied for several opportunities, I went to multiple events/workshops/classes, I accepted invitations, and I spoke to total strangers and people I'd only ever seen on social media. As a result, I met amazing people, I was exposed to a world of greater possibilities, I made connections, I was inspired, and I gained greater insight into my purpose. My career coach had told me that I needed to be open to receiving. She said that by constantly questioning, I was blocking opportunities. I had never thought about it like that before. Based on my upbringing, I saw it as protecting myself from disappointment. Talk about a mindset shift!

When I first sat down to reflect on 2023, I was ready to say that I did not accomplish much. I'm not where I'd hoped to be in many ways and my first instinct was to let that be the gauge for evaluating my year. However, something inside told me to stop and really reflect on the year I'd had. That's when I realized just how much I had accomplished and that I had truly grown. I had followed through with my guiding word! You can imagine how great it felt to realize that even with all of the hiccups, I was still able to say that I met my goal in so many ways. I wouldn't have been able to say that if I had just made a New Year's resolution. 

Interestingly enough, before I even sat with the reflection on 2023, I was trying to decide on the guiding word for 2024. I understood, deep down, that this is my ideal way of preparing for the new year and pushing myself to continue to do better and get better, while still having the ability to take some space and quiet time when needed, without feeling guilty and bowing to society's pressures.

If you've made it to this part of the blog, I'm sure you're wondering - "What is the &$%@ word for 2024??!!" 😆 

Without further ado, my guiding word for 2024 is DELIBERATE. I chose DELIBERATE as my guiding word because I have recognized that while taking other steps toward growth, I need to be more discerning about how I spend my time, how I spend my money, how I connect with others, whose attention I'm trying to get, and how I place value on my skills/talent/time/creativity. I am one person, wearing multiple hats, striving for better. It is super important that I do not return to a place of sleep deprivation, constant grinding, unacknowledged anxiety, and overall stress. There will be several changes coming in the new year as I continue on my journey and I can't wait to share them with you and see the results of the hard work. 💜✨

I know this has been a long one, so I'll stop here. LOL. The last things I wanted to say are:

- A huge THANK YOU for your support and being with me on this journey

- I wish you an amazing new year filled with success, opportunity, love, productivity, minimal aggravation, and rest!

                                   SEE YOU IN 2024!!! 


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