Even though Christmas is well behind us at this point, I have to start this post by saying that I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. In whatever way it was spent, I hope it went better than expected. If you were missing someone or hurting in any way, I hope you know better days are coming and that you are loved. I hope, instead of zoning out and measuring yourself up against what everyone shared on Instagram, that you switched off and realized the blessings right in front of you, the gift of family, and lean in to nurturing the relationships you have with your family members. If you’re used to being busy, to the point that it could potentially be unhealthy, I hope you allowed yourself to slow down and enjoy the simple things and marvel at life’s small joys. More than that, I hope this season left you with a full heart and renewed spirit.
Back in 2016, after a whirlwind of a year, I used this time [during the Christmas holiday] to pump the brakes hard and reflect on the gifts that the year had afforded me. I did this – mostly – because that year left me feeling so exhausted and depleted. After a year of DOING so much, I hit a wall and didn’t have the energy to do ANYTHING. I started shaming myself for it and a red flag was raised in my head. No one should feel ashamed because they want to take a break before ticking off the next goal or item on our to-do lists. It reminded me what one of my friend says sometimes: “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”
As I mentioned in last years’ post:
“We have become a culture that glorifies busyness and it’s sad, but true, that this lifestyle makes it hard to see the good we’ve experienced because we’re not giving ourselves any time to reflect. We’re constantly moving on to the next thing, trying to get the next thing done, and out-‘doing’ everyone in our lives.”
Sometimes, I wonder if busyness is robbing us of our true potential because we don’t spend enough time reflecting on why we’re doing what we’re doing, what we’ve accomplished, and if we even believe in what we’re doing. I wonder how many of us are carefully and consciously deciding if what we spend our time doing is what we truly want out of our lives or how the things we busy ourselves with could be negatively affecting the relationships that are so important to us. I wonder how many of us are taking the time to consciously choose to strike an equal balance between being busy with things that will enrich our lives versus being busy with things that will make us rich. Sadly, I think all of this is encouraging us to walk through life with blind aim with the intent to prove ourselves to everyone instead of slowing down, challenging ourselves to process, ask questions and reflect on what we’ve achieved, and give ourselves room to make healthy decisions.
My finger is pointing to social media. I think it’s a huge part of the problem, which I realize is funny because social media is what fuels my business and livelihood. Don’t get me wrong. There are some great things that have come out social media, for all of us. But, we can’t deny the negatives. We need to be mindful of how social media can affect us and stop ourselves quickly from falling into the comparison game. We are so quick to keep tabs on what everyone else is doing and use it as fuel to keep producing and sharing and attempting to out-perform or out-live people. This is why, for me, as someone who works in social media, this exercise of highlighting the blessings time has given me is so important. I should probably do this quarterly, if I’m honest, because it is so easy to let the busy-ness of life take over. In this new year, I want to make recognizing things I’m thankful for a more frequent thing.
Anyway, here we go! This year …
• I received the gift of multiple professional accomplishments. While I may have found it hard to accomplish all that I tell myself that it takes to be a successful influencer, as I mentioned in last weeks’ 2019 Resolutions post, I was humbled to find that I did achieve quite a bit professionally this year. In April, I rebranded from Sequins & Things to AlysonHaley.com with the launch of a newly designed, user-friendly website. It was a labor of love that took over a year and I spent a good deal of time during the first quarter of 2018 putting all of my input in so that, come launch day, it was as resourceful and informative as possible. It was a dream to launch this site. I am so proud of it and I hope you’ve enjoyed every visit you’ve made here since then. I want to thank you all for taking the time out of your day to venture over here – you’ve contributed to a record-breaking traffic year. Thank you so much to those of you who have subscribed to newsletters! In just nine months, our newsletter community has grown by 600%! I love being able to share more of myself with you guys over there and I hope y’all are enjoying them just as much!
• I received the gift of a breakthrough. I will go into this in more detail in my upcoming London post but, in January, I made a promise to myself that I would look into how realistic it would be for me to move to London. In August, after a lengthy conversation with my immigration lawyer, we uncovered a visa option that would work for me. It was incredible to think that this dream could actually become a reality. But, for whatever reason, I kind of just let this information sit there, in the back of my mind and I didn’t do anything about it other than spoke to some other professionals and family. At the beginning of November, I feel like I just reached this breakthrough where everything that worried me about doing this just became irrelevant. There will always be risk involved in going after your dreams, especially a dream where no one else has gone before you and done it. The truth is, I have a huge craving for doing things a little different around here. I feel like I’m tired of doing the same thing that so many others are doing. I realized, as I shared in the 2019 Resolutions post, that I wasn’t actually living out one of my favorite life quotes that could put me in a position to do just that – do things different! [See that post for more on what that quote is] So, I am SO thankful for that breakthrough. I won’t really share what sparked it but, I am thankful to have gotten there. I don’t know what’s waiting for me in London. It could be the biggest mistake of my life or not going could be the biggest mistake of my life. Who really knows … but I do feel like I’m being divinely led there. I feel like God is not letting me fall asleep to this dream – as I tend to do [and I know that I do now thanks to the Enneagram; more on what that did for me in this post from last year!] – and I am so thankful for this awakening, this breakthrough, these answers and the journey that lies ahead!
Free Enneagram test is HERE. Everyone needs to take it!
• I received the gift of familial support. I am going to save my schpeal on this for the upcoming London post. There’s a lot to say but I promise it will be worth the wait but I can’t deny that it wasn’t a one of my greatest gifts of the year because it was. I literally get teary-eyed thinking about the conversations that I’ve had with them this year about London. Holding back tears now … ha! I’m so ridiculous. I can’t wait to share more with you all!
• I received the gift of a new team member and expanded my extended AlysonHaley.com team! In late April, Justine and I welcomed Stacy, my new assistant, to our team and moved Justine into an elevated role assisting with securing and managing partnerships. Stacy has been such a gift to us both. Justine and I can be pretty serious and, while this has played to our advantage all of these years, Stacy has added a silly and lighthearted element to the mix while also being incredibly efficient and productive. Justine told me not long after Stacy started that she felt like our team is now complete and I couldn’t agree more. We have a good camaraderie and work so well together. Toward the end of the year, we were noticing that we needed to rework the team roles for various reasons. This came at the same time that I was offered an opportunity to work with an agency I had heard amazing things about but kept their client list very small. I was so honored so, after much thought and deliberation, I accepted adding to the extended. I have always believed in my team but I have never been this proud of everyone who works behind the scenes on AlysonHaley.com. I feel like everyone is in the position that they are made for, where their strength lies, and I am so excited about what 2019 has in store for us!
• I received the gift of being able to tick off quite a few of my bucket list travel destinations. This was one of my gifts last year and I feel a little weird adding it again but, y’all … whether you travel frequently or once in a blue moon, short distances or long distances, you know what a gift it is. While travel can have its share of inconveniences and annoyances, if you look beyond that, to what travel can leave you with … it is MOSTLY one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves, to invest in travel and experiences. And, I’m so thankful for the gifts of travel I’ve been able to experience the last couple of years. It’s changed me and I believe for the better. I hope it’s inspired you. I know it will change you, too. I’ll be highlighting my favorite travel experiences / destinations of 2018 in another post later this week so stay tuned for that!
And, that’s it! This was such a wonderful year! I shared a little highlight on Instagram! Be sure to check it out! What were some of the gifts that 2018 left you with? What are you grateful for? I’d love to read what’s going on in your life in the comments below!
Sorry for the lack of photos in this post. I’ve taken the last couple of weeks off of work so I’m just using what I have 🙂 New outfits to come! xo.