7 Life Lessons I Learnt in 2017

2017 has been pretty bloody incredible for invaluable life lessons. I had my first year as an adidas global ambassador, released a shoe collection with them, been on 18 trips across the globe, brought out my own jumper range, set up the Living Consciously Crew, co-founded London Brunch Guide, headlined Balance Festival, expanded #GirlGains to new countries, started working on the #GirlGains BBC podcast and moved in with my amazing boyfriend.

2017 passed in the blink of an eye but I have absorbed and appreciated every single second. It had its ups and downs and managed to teach me a whole host of life lessons, ones I wanted to share with you.

Stress Management

I thought I was busy in 2016, but 2017 introduced me to a whole new level of hectic. I was running multiple businesses, teaching classes, producing content, working on projects and travelling extensively; all at the same time. In the past I would have crumbled under the pressure, but this year I thrived. I only had a couple of “wobbles” where I felt overwhelmed in the whole year, compared to a couple a month in 2016.

I think this is due to two things. 1) Increased mindfulness. Meditation and increased self-awareness has allowed me to be able to work myself through stress more positively. I use breathing techniques and positive self-talk; and the effects have been huge. I am able to get myself through almost any stressful situation. 2) I have better systems in place to deal with a large workload. I am much more efficient at prioritising. I am better at saying no. I know my capabilities. I use my organisational skills to ensure maximum productivity. In short, I can get more done in less time.

Act Confident & No One Will Question It

In 2017 I have well and truly been pushed out of my comfort zone. I have spoken in front of hundreds of people, been interviewed on the radio and featured on live TV; things which would have filled me with fear in the past. I learnt that the best way for me to handle these challenges is to face them head on and to pretend to others, and myself, that I am confident. Often this confidence becomes genuine and I surprise myself; I feel like I am able to trick myself (and those around me!) into being comfortable in any situation. This year I have honestly felt relaxed doing things I wouldn’t have dreamed of in the past, and getting these new experiences under my belt only increases my confidence for the future.

You Really Can’t Please Everyone

In 2018 I decided to be more open about my personal journey to living more consciously; sharing my experiences adopting a plant based lifestyle, trying eco-friendly products and reducing my plastic use. As one of the only people in the lifestyle blogging space discussing these issues, I thought it would be celebrated. In many ways it has, with thousands of people supporting my message and thanking me for raising their awareness of environmental issues. This brings me so much joy!

However, in many ways it hasn’t. By openly talking about the environment, some people have placed me on a pedestal of perfection; and now I receive new found criticism for my lifestyle choices. It has been a learning curve to shrug this off, as I often felt upset that most people ignore these issues don’t get any backlash; whereas I promote small sustainable swaps and get criticised. I felt like I was being punished for doing a good thing. However, now at the end of 2017 I feel more capable of ignoring the criticism and focusing on the positive impact which my message is having.

Relationships Teach You About Yourself

Relationships teach you a lot, not only about the other person but about yourself. This year I moved in with my boyfriend, which was definitely the biggest learning curve we have ever been through together. Living with someone really brings to light your own habits and mannerisms, as well as your partners. I definitely learnt about my own weaknesses, as well as my strengths. Together, we have discovered how to not only make ourselves and each other happy, but how to communicate our needs and feelings more effectively. Ultimately, we have come out the other end of this experience stronger than ever.

Fitness is Flexible

When it comes to fitness, I have always had a consistent element of weight training in my routine. It was where I first started, and over the past 5 years I have always lifted a minimum of 3-4 times a week. It was my comfort zone and I feared letting it go. However, my extremely hectic schedule in 2017 forced me to do just that.

Towards the end of the year I wasn’t able to get to the gym to lift weights more than once or twice a week, so I had to mix things up. Again, I was forced out of my comfort zone. All I could fit in was 30 minute workouts – usually bodyweight HIIT circuits in my office or 5km runs around the local park. Surprisingly, I actually ended up embracing this change. I made the most of my time and resources and loved my training sessions, even if they were short and sweet. I now feel the fittest I have ever been. Not only am I able to still lift weights (admittedly lighter ones than in the past), but I am able to run 5km+ comfortably and smash a HIIT session with ease.

Friendships Come & Go

Innately I am a people pleaser. I like people. I am the sort of person who wants to be friends with everyone and I get scared to let people go. 2017 was the year that I truly learnt that friendships ebb and flow, and that is ok. I learnt that not everyone is meant to be a “best friend” and you can just be acquaintances (a big lesson for me!). I also learnt that not everyone is in your life forever and it is ok to drift apart. It can be a hard process, especially if you have memories together, but sometimes you grow in opposite directions and that doesn’t make either of you bad people. It just makes you human.

I Am Beautiful

Just as I am. I am lucky that I have been body confident for the past few years. However, I have always been very self critical of my face. I would say “I’m not naturally beautiful” or “I only look alright with makeup on”. My skin is scattered with acne scars and doesn’t “glow” like other girls. Makeup was my security blanket and I would wear it on a daily basis, just to feel like myself.

However, in 2017 I decided to myself that I wasn’t going to keep living this way. I needed to practice what I preach and embrace myself, every part of myself. So I did. In February I challenged myself to not wear makeup for a whole week while I hosted a retreat in Thailand. No one said anything, and by the end of the 7 days I felt much more comfortable bare faced. I then started wearing less and less makeup at home, challenging myself to go out the house without a scrap on my skin. It was a slow process but I soon realised no one cares. No one looks at you. No one judges you. You just judge yourself. It was a revelation. Now, I hardly ever wear makeup and I honestly accept every single part of myself. Finally.

Bring on 2018…

Hopefully sharing my lessons from 2017 has opened your eyes, so you can learn from my experiences. One common theme from all these teachings is that “great things never come from comfort zones”. So I encourage you to go into 2018 and step outside your comfort zone, as that is where you truly grow.

Zanna x 

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