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What I Learned About Myself in 2018

Those of you who've purchased or heard me talk about my Holiday Life by Design workbook know I'm big on end-of-year planning. Prior to 2011 ... not so much. I'd dabble with the occasional cliché resolution, usually something to do with working out more (or at all), only to follow the equally cliché path of abandoning my so-called goal by January 6th.

At the end of 2010, something changed. I get more into it within the workbook itself, but the short version, I realized I wasn't happy. Not depressed, not sad, not miserable. But I wasn't happy in the way I wantedto be happy. Like many people, I lived for that Friday afternoon feeling, but it was fleeting. Sunday night melancholy, Monday morning dread, the bittersweet of "hump" day where the good news was you were halfway through the work week, the bad news was ... you were only halfway through the work week.

I decided I wanted something different—something more. I started to wonder what it would be like if I could have that Friday afternoon feeling all the time. And how I could get there. I didn't know where to start, but in December 2010, I just sort of ... did. I sat down, not so much with an intention to set resolutions, but to change my life.

Spoiler alert: I did.

The Life by Design workbook is the result of years worth of evolving and improving that "end of year" reflection process that started in 2010. And for those of you have been asking, yes, I will be releasing a non holiday version this year, for those of you that want to change your life right now, and not wait until December. Though, you canuse the Holiday version anytime, it just has a bunch of Christmas tree graphics (they're pretty!) and some language specific to end of 2018.

One of my favorite thing is when people send me pictures of their Life by Design workbooks in progress. A friend just yesterday sent me a photo of her bucket list for 2019, and I wanted to open Champagne and celebrate on her behalf.

I figure since I love getting glimpses into other people's dreams and learnings so much, you might find it interesting to find what some of my key findings about myself actually look like.

For this post, I'll be specifically talking about the lessons I took out of 2018 that helped shape my 2019 vision for myself.

LL's 2018 Reflection

I'll start with my 2018 goals. I intentionally only had two last year, instead opting to focus more on getting my life back on track via my theme word (more on that below).

My goals:

  1. Write 8 books in 2018

  2. Run a 5k in under 30 minutes

How'd I do?

Pretty good, and … not good at all.

I wrote 7 books in 2018, two of which weren't even on my writing calendar, and I wrote just for fun, just for me on weekends. I haven't decided whether I'll release them yet! Maybe via my newsletter, just for fun. Since the 8 book goal was ambitious, I'm pretty damn happy with the "almost there" of seven books. That goal for me was never about the number of books itself, it was to get back to prioritizing and protecting my writing time. In that, I was successful, and that fact alone made for a pretty great 2018!

The running goal? Totally did not hit that. I don't think. I didn't even bother running a 5k in December 2018 to see if my time was improved from January 2018. While it was a solid goal, and I still certainly wouldn't mind being able to sustain a 10 minute mile for 3 miles, I learned that having a strict number goal as it relates to my health didn't really work for me. In the same way I don't gauge my eating habits by the scale, but my the way my clothes fit (I have no interest in going up a size and having to buy all new clothes, so if my current size feels snug, I start embracing more salads and fewer bagels), I realized I much prefer to gauge my fitness level by the regularity and frequency of my workouts. I don't really give a fig how fast I run during those workouts so long as I'm working up a sweat and pushing my body on a regular basis.

So that was the goals. Let's get to my favorite part. My theme word. I didn't have a word for 2018, but a phrase:

Back to Basics

Guys, I'll be honest. I crushed it.

Back to Basics became my theme after a rough 2017, where I found myself moving in a million different directions I didn't want to be going. I was flying all over the place for book signings, only I didn't actually have current books to sign, because I was writing exclusively e-books at the time. I was participating in Facebook parties to try to hype up my releases, even though I don't really get Facebook parties, and I've always made a point to never measure my sense of worth as a writer by the success of a book release. The list goes on and on, but by the end of 2017, I realized I was miserable. In that December planning session, I realized what I wanted more than anything was to sort of clear my palette and start over with a clean slate.

To get back to all the reasons I started this career in the first place: because I love writing love stories.

Hence, Back to Basics.

I spent 2018 basically channeling my 2012-2013 self, when my career was just starting and I was still high on the euphoria of my first book offer (and first book release), and was just busting my ass to build my career. By writing more books.

Back to Basics seeped into other parts of my 2018 life as well. In 2018, I moved from my longtime NYC neighborhood of Hell's Kitchen to the Upper West Side. Hell's Kitchen is in the middle of chaotic midtown, and I remember it fondly, but the more relaxed Upper West Side was a breath of fresh air, literally.

I didn't the fitness goal I mentioned above, but I did move more. Not in grueling workouts necessarily, but I walked around the city a lot more in 2018 than I did 2017 where I was mostly tired and stressed and alternating between tired Uber rides to Newark airport, and being hunched over my laptop, tired and jet-lagged as I tried to hit all my deadlines.

In 2018, I release my last "e-book only" title, having opted to only sign book deals with a paperback component, as there's something very fundamentally gratifying about the basicneed to hold my own story in my hands.

In a surprise move, even to myself, I left Facebook and Twitter in May 2018, and haven't logged into either platform once since then. Even though I'd already been outsourcing a lot of the posting to my assistant before then, leaving completely cleared up mental space I hadn't realize was cluttered, leaving me feeling more creative than ever before.

The list goes on.

In short, 2018 was pretty damn great, and I really do credit my Back to Basics theme for a lot of that. I kept the phrase in my planner, as my "device" wallpaper, I set up notifications on my calendar, etc, all to remind myself to cut out the crap, exhale the bullshit, and get back to my life, my way.

All that said, it wasn't perfect! I learned a lot about myself, had some key discoveries about what I want out of my career, my brand, my social media presence, etc. I've listed some of those key learnings below.

Key Learnings from 2018

  1. loathe how cheap romance ebooks are becoming. Romance novels are just as worthy, just as valuable as other genres of fiction, and yet I consistently see new romances releases coming out at $2.99. Three dollars for a brand new book?! Or pre-orders for $0.99. A dollar. For a brand new book. I've seen my own books discounted to $1.99 by my publishers a lot more often, I'm sure because the publishers are attempting to stay competitive. It bums me out. Not because I want romance readers to pay more, per say, but if we want the world to stop treating the romance genre as trash, I believe we need to stop acting like they're bargain barrel books. Romance is top-shelf, guys.

  2. I'm happier without Facebook. I've already mentioned it above, but I've put it on my list of key learnings so whenever I'm barraged by peer pressure (often) to get back on Facebook, I can remember that my life has been better without it.

  3. I miss having a home office, or at least a desk. This one surprised me! When we moved in June, it was to an apartment that was about the same size as before, but differently shaped, so we did some furniture swaps. One of the things to go was my desk, which was my idea. To be honest, I didn't use it that much, finding myself doing a lot of my writing from bed first thing in the morning, from the couch, from our dining table, from the counter at the kitchen. But I miss the desk, I think because there's an important mental component to feel like I have a work space to be Lauren Layne. In fact, I want more than a desk. One of my goals this year is to be able to figure out how to afford an office, either in-home or a rented space, that I can deck out with bookshelves for my book (currently I've got them stashed in boxes under the bed which is the only place they'll fit in a tiny NYC apartment). I want a desk, and a rug, and a champagne cart. I can't afford it yet. But an LL Babe Cave is definitely a big goal.

  4. I miss blogging. This one too surprised me! I mentioned cutting out a lot of the "stuff" via my Back to Basics theme, and in almost all ways, this was a good thing. But apparently I had to cut the work desk and the blog to realize how much I missed them. I'm back now.

  5. Creative autonomy is more important to me than anything else in my career. I don't want to get too into this one right now (a bit too personal, a bit too fresh), but I'll try to share here on the blog when the time is right.

And that, darlings, is Lauren Layne's 2018 in a nutshell.

I'll be posting about my 2019 goals and announcing my theme word later this week, so be sure to sign-up for the newsletter to get notified as new posts go up!

LifestyleLauren Layne