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Kelly McGrath

A Year in Review: 11 Important Lessons I Learned in 2017

12/10/2017 2 Comments

Another trip around the sun, another year full of lessons to look back upon. I’ve always loved the expression that life is like a book. We have all subconsciously chosen January 1st as a way to measure the many chapters of our lives. It’s a time to set new goals, hit refresh, and reflect on the year. Here are my greatest takeaways from 2017.

Not everyone you start with will finish by your side.

Every person we come into contact with plays a different part in our life story. Some are meant to take up a few chapters while others only a few scenes. Our roles in other people’s lives can and will change as we do. This year I learned that letting people go is a natural part of life.

This goes both ways; being let go of hurts just as bad as letting someone go. Sometimes our role in someone else’s life is small, and that is okay. I’m learning to find comfort in that and appreciate the time I have/had with every person I cross paths with.

Edit your life as often as you need to. Find a way to be understanding if you find yourself being edited out of someone else’s. When you start to become a more active participant in the writing of your own story, you’ll be amazed at how at peace you feel.

Heartbreak sucks. Love people anyway.

I wear my heart on my sleeve, always have and always will. In the past it felt like that was a weakness of mine. I would plague myself with “what if’s” and never put myself completely out there. Love is scary. It makes you vulnerable. It took me going through heartbreak a second time to really understand that it’s still worth it.

This year I took a huge leap of faith and went into a relationship knowing that there was a large chance things would blow up in my face. Unfortunately it didn’t work out the way I hoped it would. It was quite honestly the most painful experience I’ve had to date, but I am getting through it. I didn’t want to look back years from now and regret not taking a chance on someone I had fallen in love with.

While I wouldn’t wish heartbreak on anyone, I’ve been able to learn more about myself through this experience than I ever expected. For that I’m grateful. Don’t close your heart off just because one person didn’t want it. Keep the door open because the right person will find their way in and stay.

A positive outlook is everything.

If you want to look for the bad in each day, you will find it. If you choose to look for the good it will always be there. The brain is a muscle, and you can train it to have a more positive outlook. Our days are composed of habits. Each time I would catch myself complaining, I would try to be appreciative instead. It’s amazing how much brighter and lighter your world becomes with a positive shift in perspective.

Hard work will take you far, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

When I was little and still playing hockey my dad would always tell me “The one thing you can always control is your effort, no one else.” He would say it so often that I wanted to roll my eyes sometimes, but 24 year old me is so glad that I listened.

When you’re 12 you don’t fully understand the weight and truth of a sentence like that, but the older I get the more applicable it becomes. School didn’t come easy for me, but my dad always told me that I didn’t have to be a genius to succeed in life.

You won’t always be the smartest person in the room, but you can always be the hardest worker.

Serve others selflessly.

You don’t need acknowledgement or praise to make hard work worth while. If you need to be recognized for your actions, you are serving your ego. Find joy in helping others. Paying it forward will come back to you in other ways.

You don’t always have to be rewarded for your hard work to be rewarding. Keep your head down, do your thing, be more selfless, and good things will come to you in time.

Invest in yourself.

Learn about money. Open a savings account. Track your spending. Invest in your future self through a retirement fund. Unless you majored in accounting and finance, there is always more to learn about your personal wealth. Money is one of the biggest stresses in life. The better handle you have on your money, the less stressed you will be.

Not everyone will like you, and that’s okay.

This has been one of the hardest concepts for me to grasp, but it is so true. I think confidence comes with age, but also when we accept this simple truth.

Just because you don’t look like somebody who you think is attractive doesn’t mean you aren’t attractive. Flowers are pretty but so are Christmas lights and they look nothing alike.

Our differences don’t make us flawed, they make us who we are. Our preferences are varied, and our personalities are unique. The same goes for our physical appearances. Your worth should never be based on how you stack up with someone else.

You are not going to be compatible with everyone, and to be honest I think that’s a good thing. If we tried to appeal to everyone, we’d lose ourselves. Which leads me to my next point:

People pleasing if the thief of joy.

Trying to please everyone but yourself is a recipe for disaster. All you will end up with is stress, disappointment, and frustration. Trying to appeal to everyone is impossible.

Do not dull your light for someone else. The right people will be attracted to your energy and personality. Some will stay for a while, and the right ones will stay for the long haul.

The longest relationship we will ever have is the one we have with our self. You have to like that person, so never try to change who you are for someone else.

Be a student of life every day.

Every person you meet knows something you don’t. Be receptive and open to different perspectives. Try and learn something new every day. You learn more about life by living it than you do in school.

Read a book as often as you can.

It’s crazy how much more I enjoy reading now that it is not assigned or required of me. Reading books is one of the easiest ways to improve yourself. Expand your knowledge and vocabulary. Let your mind wander into another world. Unplug from your phone or computer screen and feel the pages between your fingers. You can check out my series “The Good Read” for monthly book recommendations.

Be kind.

Social media is curated. Our outfits are curated. The way we conduct ourselves in public is often different than the way we are alone. Anyone can hide behind a facade these days. We all project the most polished versions of ourselves, but we all keep some skeletons in the closet.

Be kind, be understanding, smile at strangers. Offer your shoulder to lean on for those who need it. None of these things are hard to do. They can be all it takes to turn someone’s day around. This world needs more of that. We all can play our part in making the day brighter.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned this year?

xx Kelly


  1. Reply



    I feel like you and I have lived the same year basically because I swear I have had the same exact experiences and lessons. I don’t know you but I love you and I wish you an even better 2018, girl!

    • Reply



      Isn’t it so funny how we all have so so much in common and don’t realize it?! Thank you for reading and for this sweet comment, wishing you the same for 2018, I have a feeling it will be a good one for both of us! 🙂

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