2018 Reflections

Another year coming to a close. It’s cliche to say, but each one really seems to fly by quicker than the one before. Maybe I’m just getting old.

2018 was witness to some incredible accomplishments in my life:

  • I published the Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing, my third book in total and first one in print.
  • I competed in FIVE ballroom competitions, more than any previous year.
  • I added Standard to my dance repertoire.
  • I won a World Championship title in American Smooth.
  • I was featured and/or published in over 10 media outlets other than my own blog.
  • I had my best year yet in building my business.
  • I formed partnerships with other brands I’m happy and proud to support.

I also met some amazing people, from dancers to entrepreneurs, and made new friends. I did some fascinating, eye-opening work on the personal development front that has helped me gain clarity about what the heck I’m doing with my life and deal with my inner demons more effectively.

Wow, that’s quite a year!

And yet, over the past month, I’ve been hassled by the feeling that I haven’t done enough. I had goals that I didn’t accomplish, milestones I didn’t reach. It’s natural to take stock of the year as I reach the end of it, but of course, I have the bad habit of focusing on the perceived failures instead of the successes. Would you believe that as I was making that list of accomplishments, I almost forgot to list my world title? That’s how hard my inner critic is working to block out the triumphs and magnify the tribulations.

Thanks to that personal development work I mentioned, I recognized what a Negative Nancy I was being and made myself come up with an accomplishment whenever I started feeling stressed or down about something I didn’t accomplish. I also started looking forward instead of back and ended up coming up with some cool ideas for 2019! I’m still mapping them out, but if you want to be the first to know, get on the Solo Practice Guide mailing list. I’m bringing even more in the new year to help you with your dance practice.

I have to admit that I’m a bit nervous going into 2019. While I feel proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished and the new challenges I’m taking on, the path isn’t as clear as I’d like it to be. On the dance front for example, I’m still learning my Open Waltz routine after months because I had to restrict my lesson time. I’ll be returning to two lessons a week soon, but it’s difficult to know how my circumstances will affect my 2019 competition goals. Will I be ready to compete at Beach Bash in April like I originally planned?

The entrepreneurial path is never clear and I always feel like I’m about to turn a corner and either fall off a cliff or take off into the sky. Investments into my business are necessary and I’m glad to make them, but there is also risk. What if no one else thinks my new ideas for the new year are cool? As one of my coaches says, everything is a test, even making money.

Alongside my ideas to bring more in the new year to help you with your dance practice, I want to write my next book. Only trouble is I haven’t quite figured out what the topic(s) will be. I have some ideas floating around my head, but they’re vague. If you have any thoughts, please comment below!

Then there are practical things like my aging car and apartment lease coming to an end in the summer. Will my car last another year? How much will my rent go up if I renew my lease? Will I be able to afford it or will I have to move again?

Lots of unknowns but that’s Life, isn’t it? I’m predisposed to obsess over these unknowns and trigger my anxiety. Thankfully, I’m managing by focusing on the portion of the path that is clear. I know what my next couple steps are, so I’ll take those and then see what the next portion of clear path reveals.

I’ve had quite a few moments in the studio when I’ve started to compare my journey to others. I haven’t competed in four months. I’ve barely learned one routine in that time. Even if I was ready to compete sooner than April, it wouldn’t matter because I don’t have any money saved for it. I start to feel like I’ve fallen behind, but then a voice pops into my head and reminds me that I’m on my own journey. I’ve chosen my own path and it does not parallel those around me, so it doesn’t make sense to compare.

It’s become popular to choose a word for the year, something that represents your intentions or goals. Last year, I chose identity. I didn’t know what my word for 2019 should be. Too much of my path felt unclear. The big goals I didn’t accomplish this year made me feel hesitant to set any big intentions aside from the couple steps I could see in front of me. But just now as I’m writing, it’s come to me. My word for 2019 is leadership.

When you have a great leader, you’re not as afraid of the unknown. You trust them to guide you through the fog. When I don’t know or forget the next step in a dance, I know I can follow Teacher’s lead. 2019 feels like a year in which it will be even more important for me to look to the leaders in my life, like my dance and business coaches, and also look to myself as a leader.

Self-leadership is one of those concepts that I never really gave much thought until some of the work I did this past year. A leader was also something I never saw myself becoming. I’m not much of a follower either, I’m more the lone wolf type. Even with my writing, it was like “I’ll put the insights I have to offer out there, but it’s not my business whether people use them or not.” Then of course, it became my business quite literally when I decided I was ready for a more equal value exchange, instead of just giving handouts, and be paid for my insights.

Publishing the Solo Practice Guide and using its insights in my own dance training over this past year gave me a peek into what could happen when I took on more of a leadership role in my own life. I’m ready for more in 2019. I’m ready to show up more as a leader, for both myself and my tribe.

I’m ready. Are you?

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Happy New Year!

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