What I Learned from a Not-So-Great Year

I know I’m in good company when I say that I’m not sad to say goodbye to 2019.

I also know that the challenges I faced this year pale in comparison to the experiences of so many others whom I have read or heard about throughout the year.

Yet personally and professionally, this year seemed to have a never-ending supply of curveballs to throw my way.

I am happy and thankful to report that 2019 has ended far better than it started, but looking back, I can admit that I learned a lot of important lessons over the past 12 months. 

Lesson 1: I’ve got a lot of good people in my corner. 

Here’s a short list of who I’m especially grateful for:

  • Jennifer McDowell, who shared her infinite wisdom with me through her life coaching practice and helped me clarify my professional aspirations and goals,
  • Brandon Roche, who helped me improve my website and online presence in simple ways I did not know were possible, 
  • Tracey Walterbusch, who consistently networks for me and has helped me get professionally acclimated in Columbus, 
  • Leah Neaderthal, for helping me to more effectively show the world what I have to offer, 
  • My husband and family, for picking me up on my bad days and jumping for joy with me on my good ones, 
  • And so many more!


Lesson 2: Sometimes you need a different perspective on the problem. 

Transitioning my business from Baltimore, where I lived for over a decade, to Columbus, where I didn’t know anyone, was more challenging than I anticipated.

After a number of frustrating months, I realized that there were other ways to run my business than the few tried and true strategies I was using.

I started reaching out to people from different fields and points in their career for new insights.

I learned about search engine optimization, value-based marketing, and customer relationship management software.

I joined the Ohio Program Evaluators Group (OPEG) and went to my first American Evaluation Association Conference.

I gained a huge network of like-minded and supportive people who have opened up a world of ideas and opportunities for me.

I learned that there is always something I can try to reach new potential clients, expand my impact on schools and communities, and grow my business.

These experiences lit a fire under me to continue trying new things to make Structured Solutions better than ever. 

Lesson 3: It’s never ALL bad. 

I can’t even tell you how many rejections I got this year.

I felt so defeated and unclear about how to move forward.

However, a lot of great things happened in 2019 too – they just get clouded by the discouraging events of this year.

Here are some awesome things that happened for Structured Solutions in 2019: 

  • I got invited to present with NAFSCE on their April Effective Practices Webinar. Check out the recording here!
  • I worked with multiple recipients of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant to evaluate their impact on students and families — and participated in grant reviews to help other great programs get funded. 

I’m glad to put 2019 behind me, but like all challenging experiences, I know that it has helped me grow as a person and as a business owner.

I am optimistic that 2020 will be a better year (hopefully for everyone else too!), but I aim to continue the spirit of character-building, self-improvement, and continuous learning that 2019 necessitated.

​Happy New Year!