I learned quite a few lessons the hard way in 2012. Some were big deal issues, some were not quite as significant. But I’m grateful for them all, and I’m thankful I’m entering 2013 with this knowledge already in hand:
1. Write in the book. You know I homeschool, right? My kids have hardbound textbooks that are meant to be reusable. Every morning I’d faithfully make copies of the day’s lessons before they started their work. I finally realized that they could just write in the book, cutting 10 minutes off my prep time every single day.
Now I’ve reclaimed 10 minutes a day, their schoolwork is neatly contained in the books, and they always know which lesson they’re on. And if we need to re-use those textbooks one day, I can buy new ones for $11 each. No big deal.
2. Less is more. My stylist suggested I try shampooing every 2 or 3 days instead, and it’s a miracle. My hair is healthier and looks better (my rogue waves are always tamer on the second day), but the time savings is incredible. Washing and blow-drying my hair is time-consuming, and only doing it every 3 days saves scads of time. I wish I’d started this years ago. And on that note….
3. It’s not you. It’s your stylist. I’ve always had chummy relationships with my hair stylists. I’ve never had an actual define-the-relationship talk with someone who does my hair, but visiting another stylist after a long-term relationship has been established feels like cheating. (Am I right?) But this year I desperately needed my hair professionally colored after abusing it with chlorine and saltwater all summer, and I just couldn’t justify paying my usual stylist’s rates for color.
I asked around for recommendations…and ended up with someone I love. She knows exactly how to cut my hard-to-cut hair, and charges half of what I was paying before. For the first time in years I’m getting “good hair” compliments even when my hair isn’t piled in a messy bun.
4. Ask. In 2012 I got comfortable with asking for help. I don’t do this enough. I know people who want to help you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Asking isn’t comfortable at first. I’m practicing until I get comfortable with it.
5. Pitch. This is a cousin to asking, but they’re not the same. Last year I saw good things going on that I wanted to be a part of—so I pitched. I made a case for being included, and many times–I was. Pitching is scary, but getting a “yes” makes it worth it.
6. Experiment. I’ve been trying to experiment more in several areas of my life. Experiments go one of two ways: they succeed, or they fail. My natural bent is to be a perfectionist and a maximizer–or someone who sees failure as the enemy. But I’m starting to understand—not just intellectually, either—that failure is a pretty darn efficient feedback mechanism. And I’m all about efficient.
7. My surroundings affect me more than I’d like. I need quiet and uncluttered to stay sane. Not all the time and not everywhere (or I really would go crazy!), but I’ve found that I need one peaceful hour a day and one clean room in the house to keep the cranky at bay.
As my kids get older and the rhythm of family life changes, I’m continually finding new ways to carve out a quiet space. Right now I’m relying on book basket time and audiobooks, art projects and Yo Gabba Gabba–as well as some solo coffee shop time, and a nightly pick-up routine around the house. I’ll change my strategies as needed, making sure my surroundings provide what I need–even if I wish I didn’t need it.
(On a related note, here are the 6 smartest things I did in 2011, relevant as ever.)
What hard-earned lessons are you carrying forward into the new year?