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10 Surprising Things I Learned About Myself in 2016

I tend to become very reflective in December. It’s part of my personality and I just can’t help myself! As I’ve been thinking back over this past year and realizing how much I’ve changed, I came up with a list of 10 surprising things I learned about myself in 2016.

This feels a little self-focused for me to share, but I wanted to document it and hoped that maybe some of this would encourage you in your journey of life… that it’s okay to grow, change, and discover new facets of you, even when you’re 35!

So, in not particular order, here’s my list:

1. I Love Weight Lifting

I adore weight-lifting. Really and truly adore it. It makes me feel so empowered and strong. I think there’s something really gratifying about lifting a weight that you thought was impossible to life.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that success as a weight-lifter begins between your own two ears. When you tell yourself you can’t do something, there’s a good chance you won’t believe you can so you will not even fully try.

2. I Am Not as Introverted as I Thought I Was

I’ve long known I was an introvert, but this year, I did some things that forced me to get outside of my introverted bubble and have to really spend a lot of time with people. Going to Israel and Italy by myself for 10 days with a group of 20+ people whom I really didn’t know at all was a huge step for me in breaking through personal barriers of feeling like I just wasn’t a “people person” and couldn’t ever deal with being around a lot of people for long periods of time.

The business has grown this year in that we have a few dedicated full-time employees, which means I spend a lot more time interacting with them on a daily basis. I thought this would be too much for me — especially because I usually work with one of my local team members in person at least 4 days per week. But I’ve found that I LOVE that my team is like my family and that we are so involved in each other’s lives.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I will always recharge with quiet and try to make sure I have some alone time at least a few times per week. However, I’m learning that I actually like people a lot more than I realized. In fact, I actually don’t enjoy being by myself for long periods of time anymore!

3. I Can Survive Without Coffee

This is pretty earth-shattering. Because anyone who knows me well, knows how much I loved coffee.

But I gave it up 18 weeks ago and I have survived without it. And not just that, but I’ve experienced a whole new level of health in part from giving it up. (I still love the smell of it, but I’ll happily drink a Decaf Chai Latte instead!)

4. I Am More of Fashionista Than I Realized

I’ve always said, “I’m not a fashionista!” and I’ve had a really minimalistic wardrobe for years. But this year, I started wearing more colors, paying attention to what more of the trends were, and experimenting with new looks and styles.

And I’m discovering that I actually love to spend a little time to look put together, I love having more clothes and shoes and jewelry to give me more outfit options, and I love finding new hairstyles that are simple and cute.

5. I Can Do Scary Things Without Being Terrified

As I’ve challenged myself outside my comfort zone more and more, I’m finding I get less scared going into new and unknown situations. For instance, I joined a Discipleship Group at church and this is a group that goes really deep, is really small, and requires a lot of vulnerability. I thought this would terrify me — especially because I didn’t really even know anyone in my group going into it — but I realized that I wasn’t even anxious about the first week.

I’m building deep and beautiful relationships with these women and learning so much from our time together. I’m already sad that it only goes through mid-year 2017!

6. I Love Volunteering at Church

I was asked to serve as a volunteer in the girls’ class at church over the summer. It was just going to be for a few weeks and wouldn’t really require much effort at all. I thought it’d be way outside my comfort zone since I didn’t know most of the people who were part of the Children’s Ministry and I’ve never been involved in Children’s Ministry before.

Instead, I quickly learned that I love it! I ended up offering to help lead the 5th-6th grade room of about 30-40 boys/girls this year. It has been so good to get the opportunity to build into these kids’ lives, to use some of the things I’ve learned as a speaker to get to teach and lead, and to get to build relationships with the other teachers, too!

7. I Adore Coaching Other Bloggers

I think that I’ve been blogging for so long that I take for granted that I really have anything to offer other bloggers. There are so many great books and programs and blogs out there that I felt like I didn’t really need to add to the “noise”.

But then I spoke at the Business Boutique events and I got the opportunity to interact with a number of women who were beginning bloggers… and a light bulb went off in my head: I LOVE this!!! I realized that I did have something to offer other bloggers, I do have a lot of experience, I have made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons that would be valuable to share with others, and I am incredibly passionate about the topic of blogging.

So I launched my first Blog Coaching Program in November and had the honor of coaching about 300 bloggers for 4 weeks. It was so rewarding and I loved every minute of it. I have some exciting plans for 2017 — including a brand-new blog I’ll be launching specifically for bloggers, as well as a course and possibly some other resources!

8. I Have Outgrown This Blog

Speaking of blogging, I spent all of this year of rest really searching and pondering what I want the next 5-10 years of my life to look like. After blogging for almost 12 years, I knew I needed some new direction. But I didn’t just want to jump into something or start something without a lot of thought.

So I stepped back, soaked in the quiet, and did a lot of thinking and praying. In October, the clarity finally came and it started with the realization that I have outgrown this blog. By that, I mean that what I originally started this blog for has gotten lost because I have so many other things I’m passionate about.

I can’t wait to tell you what this means for this blog and for the future. It’s exciting and I’ll be telling you more about it in a few days!

9. I Can Thrive Without Sugar & Chocolate

I love me some homemade treats — like chocolate cake and cinnamon rolls and pancakes and chocolate chip cookies and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. Basically, combine carbs and chocolate and I’m probably going to be in love with it.

But this year, I gave up sugar and chocolate and almost all of my favorite carbs for a few months. Here’s the surprise: I’m still alive and kicking! 🙂

Honestly, it was really hard for me to give these things up. I realized how much joy I found from food. But it wasn’t just joy (which isn’t a bad thing), I realized that I had made food somewhat of a coping mechanism for myself. When I had a hard day, I’d eat carbs. When I was stressed or tired, I’d turn to carbs.

Giving them up and then finding out that I could actually thrive without them was so empowering to me as a person. I could feel great and energetic and happy while eating a really simple diet of clean, whole foods. I felt this sense of amazing freedom — and it’s motivated me to continue to eat really healthfully because it’s just not worth it to put junk into my body!

10. I Actually Do Have Time to Really Take Care of Myself Well

I have long made excuses for not truly prioritizing my health: I have too much to do, too many people need me… and on and on it went. When really, in most cases, it was me choosing not to prioritize my health over other things.

This year, by making the decision to hire a nutritionist, I also was making the commitment to prioritize my health. I just didn’t have any idea how much he’d require me to prioritize my health!

One of the commitments you make on the plan is that you check-in with Jason (the nutritionist) every single day. You share your weight and how you feel and then Jason will give you suggestions or change things based upon how you’re doing.

Well, Jason quickly realized that a big part of my problem was that I wasn’t getting enough sleep. When my body would give warning signs that something was off, I’d ignore them because I had “things to do.”

Jason has patiently coached me and challenged me to let go of my old patterns of making productivity my be all, end all and he’s taught me to really slow down and pay attention to what my body is saying. He’s also been adamant that I have to get at least 7+ hours of sleep every. single. night.

I thought I was doing a decent job of getting enough sleep, but now that Jason has taught me what it feels like to actually be really rested, I realized that I rarely ever felt rested up until the last 4 months of my life. I discovered that I need to be in bed for at least 8+ hours in order to get a good solid 7+ hours of sleep at night. This has meant I’ve had to re-arrange my schedule some, but it’s been so worth.

I’m so much calmer, so much happier, so much more effective and efficient, because I’m actually really fueling my body well, instead of expecting it to run well on fumes. I hope that these habits I’m developing and these changes I’m making stick with me for the rest of my life!

By the way, if you’re struggling to find time to prioritize your health, please do consider joining me for the 15 Days to a Healthier You Program. I want to share with you what I’ve learned this year and help give you practical steps to become the best version of you that you can be!

More posts coming in the next few days: My Word for 2017, My Goals for 2017, My Top 10 Reads from 2016, and Some Big Changes Coming For Me as a Blogger. 

What have YOU learned about yourself this year? I’d love to hear! Tell us in the comments.

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  • Beth says:

    Ha! You just sorta stuck number 8 right in the middle of this list (sneaky 😉 )! I’m glad you’re continuing to blog and I can’t wait to hear what you have in store!

    • I was wondering how many people would catch that teaser to some big news I’m announcing in a few days. I’m SUPER excited about it and can’t believe I’ve been able to keep it a secret since October. I’m no good at secrets, but I wanted to make sure I had all of my ducks in a row and was really, really, really sure this was the direction I wanted to take before I announced it to the world. 🙂

      • Carrie says:

        Regarding #7: those of us who were fortunate enough to be part of that blogging coaching group are very excited about your new blog on blogging 🙂

        Wasn’t sure if you knew that at least two spin-off groups have formed for continued networking and sharing from the original group!

  • Nikki Alvarez says:

    I have been following you for so long and have really enjoyed seeing you grow. It is so inspiring! I look forward to whats coming! 🙂

  • Jody says:

    I’m so glad you shared this list of things you learned this past year! And I have to say I am very very excited to hear about the new direction you are going and the new blogging possibilities for you. I’m really glad this year of rest was such a blessing to you in really fruitful ways. Looking forward to the remainder of your end of the year posts and all to come in 2017?

  • Sarah says:

    I really hope you keep blogging – I love reading your blog and have learned so much from you over the years! I’m excited to hear about the new things you have in store, though. 🙂

  • Kathy says:

    Hi crystal, that pic of a page from a book talking about confidence, by chance can you give me the title of the book? It looks like a good book to read. Thanks!

  • Cathy says:

    Thanks for your honesty and always sharing your heart. Prayers for what is ahead for you.

  • Victoria says:

    Looking forward to the announcement!

  • Chelsea says:

    I, personally, cannot wait to hear the changes moving forward. I keep coming to the page hoping to read more content posts and skipping over the deals. Couponing has changed so much these last several years and it is not like it used to be- therefor I feel like I have moved on from that as well. Instead of saving money (which don’t get me wrong- we still have a relatively tight budget) I find myself focusing more on setting up multiple streams of income based on my passions like you talk about in your book!

  • Cindy says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Crystal and loving the growth and mindset changes you have experienced this year!
    I’m curious what your new schedule is now that you are getting more sleep? Sleep is something I know I personally need and getting it all done and to bed on time is where I end up struggling and sacrificing something to the next day. Was just curious if you are still a fairly early riser.
    Excited to see the changes to the blog in 2017!

  • Shelly Sutton says:

    Thank you for sharing these! The past several months I haven’t felt well, and lacking motivation and energy. This is giving me the nudge to let go of some things.
    Thank you for being so open with us.

  • Brooke says:

    One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I prefer to exercise at 5:30am rather than later in the day. It wakes me up and puts me in a good mood. Plus, it gets me up before the kids and when I’m sitting down for breakfast, I feel like I’ve already accomplished so much. Exercising also helps regulate my moods. If somebody had told my younger self that I would one day get up really earlly to exercise and love it, I would have looked at them like they were crazy.

  • Rosanna says:

    I also love coming to your blog, but I skip over the deals all the time as well. I love your content posts where you share real life things. Those are the kind of things I love reading about.

    • I think you’ll love the new blogs I’m launching. 🙂 They are for the many readers like you who don’t come here for the deals, just for the content. Stay tuned for more details coming on Monday! 🙂

  • Trixie says:

    I’m really excited for you. We don’t have to do what we’ve always done just because it’s what we’ve always done

    It’s healthy to be growing, learning, stretching and trying new things. Congratulations!

  • Marcie says:

    Hi Crystal,

    I am currently reading your book Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. I love your honesty, real life examples and practical tips!

    Can you tell me more about your outfits in the above pictures? I am on the look-out for cute, simple clothes. You look great in the purple top.

    • Which ones do you want to know about and what would you like to know? Ask away and I’m happy to help! 🙂

      • Marcie says:

        The outfit from #4 – fashionista (purple top and pretty necklace) and purple plaid top outfit- above #10. Where did you get everything? I love the simplicity and colors. Thank you!

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