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 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 was able to share my work at OPEG’s Fall Exchange in Athens, Ohio and at the Corporation for National and Community Service’s 2019 Research Summit in Arlington, Virginia.
- Most recently, I got the amazing opportunity to do research at Ohio State University’s College of Social Work to learn more about vulnerable youth and families.
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!