4 Lessons I Learnt in 2016

By Belinda White

It’s time for my annual backwards glance. Of course 2016 has been a shocker on a world scale, but for me it has been more nuanced. Some highs, some lows and lots of love and laughter. Here are some lessons I learnt.

Sometimes we have to go against our nature. I have been going through a slow, difficult divorce settlement. The hardest part is the self-reflection required. How do I know what’s fair? What’s the line between getting what I am owed, and being aggressive? How much responsibility do I have for someone else’s life? The law doesn’t help here; it’s not about fairness, just formulae. My natural response is conciliation and surrender – I am a peacemaker – but future me can’t afford to do that. And so this year has required me to take on the mantle of warrior, and it scratches against my skin.

It’s ok if I’m not universally liked. Admittedly, I am not quite there on this one yet. I ended the year with a client berating me for failing to navigate their internal politics successfully, and my style not being ‘straight’ enough for them. I was upset, but I realise this is part of my ongoing lesson: I am not perfect and some people don’t like me. I’m loud, direct and sometimes inappropriate. So if I live authentically, it’s inevitable that I won’t be everybody’s cup of tea – but I will be other people’s shot of whiskey. I’m not saying I’ll give up on smoothing my edges, but I do accept that nobody is universally liked – the key is to find ‘your people’ and ignore the others.

Doing hard things is good for you. I wrote a whole post about this, but the postscript is that I passed the subject. But that’s all: I passed. No credit, let alone distinction, even though I slogged my guts out for that assignment. Similarly, at the powerlifting competition I put my heart and soul into, I was still one of the weakest. Maybe a younger, overachieving me would see these as failures; I see them as wins. It’s easy to keep doing things you’re good at. It’s far harder to be mediocre and still get up and do them.

Perfect is the enemy of done. One of the most satisfying things I did this year was launch The Fierce Girl’s Guide to Finance (go check it out!). It was a long time in the planning and I did it with no budget, no plans to monetise it, and no real skills in building a website. I just made it up as I went, then finally hit the ‘publish’ button. And people like it! Not everyone (see above) – but the people who do have signed up; I am building a community; and maybe I am doing a little bit of good in the world. The website design is underwhelming and its functionality sucks balls. But sometimes you just have to start before you’re ready.

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