This has been a reflective, full-circle time for me and I decided I wanted to list some of the things I’ve learnt over the decade. Ten years ago on August 9th 2010 I started my blog, and here we are 10 years later with a shiny new look & feel, a new blog name (mine, Misha Levin), a business, a husband and a couple o’ kiddos in tow. These have been 10 big, big years, and these are some of the learnings I’ve garnered along the way, in no particular order…
1. Kiss Some Frogs
I can honestly say that I don’t regret any of the relationships I’ve had. Sure, they weren’t all healthy nor good ones, but each one helped me learn a little more about myself, what I was looking for and what I wasn’t prepared to accept or settle for in a relationship. Sometimes sh*tty relationships are sent our way as a means to learn a lesson, a universal ‘ping’ if you will. By the time I met my husband (5 years ago) I had a pretty good sense of myself and my relationship hopes and dreams. I’d finally grown up and had found the confidence to share my honest views and life-plans early on; I was done with wasting time and energy on men that didn’t want the same things, or where timings just didn’t align. It’s easy to focus on the heartbreak and the negative energy that so often wraps itself around a past relationship, but I feel that leaving it behind with gratitude and clarity is a far more powerful and beneficial thing.
2. Learn to Say No Comfortably
This has been a tough one for me to master and if I’m honest I’m still not quite there. I think I started getting better at this when I had kids because suddenly time became an increasingly scarce and valuable thing. As I think most women do, I would say yes to everything and it left me feeling stressed, depleted and like I wasn’t prioritising myself in the process. I’ve started saying no to the things that I know don’t fill up my cup, and the projects I don’t need nor have time for, and it’s a wonderful and liberating thing. Particularly on the work front, I’ve had to get comfortable saying no to clients and briefs that either aren’t the right fit from a shared values perspective, or I feel aren’t worth the time and effort I dedicate to the jobs that I do. And sometimes saying no just means I need time to prioritise me and not have somewhere to be or something to commit to; that’s probably the most important no of all.
3. Find Your Tribe
Find a pack of people who love you unconditionally, who are selfless when you’re going through something and who have your back when times are tough. My circle has certainly gotten smaller over the decade, but it’s a small and fierce tribe that I cherish and rely on immensely. I don’t believe your partner can fulfill all roles, and it’s unfair to place that pressure on him/her. Your tribe exists to counsel, console, uplift and so many other things a partner can’t always do objectively. Plan girls-only trips too; they’re soul food.
4. Don’t Let Society Dictate the Order of Your Life Things
If you want to have a baby before you’re married, or without marrying at all, go for it. If you don’t want to have kids, then wear that badge proudly (it’s certainly heaps better for the environment!). As someone who was staring down the barrel of geriatric pregnancy (yes that’s a thing and the term has always made me want to vomit) we decided that planning a wedding could wait; you can have a wedding at any age, but having kids was more important from a timing perspective. And so on a whim one week in November 2017, 7 months pregnant, we decided to have a marriage officer make our union official in the garden. I don’t regret not having a wedding for a second; perhaps we’ll do it one day on an island somewhere in our 40s. It’s also never too late to learn something new, to change careers entirely or to go back to university. As they say, youth is wasted on the young and there’s nothing wrong with finding your groove at 30, 40 or 60.
5. Start a Side-Hustle
This is a big one for me and one of the questions I get asked most frequently behind the scenes: how did you find the courage to leave corporate and to start your own business (The Browery)? I have always known I wanted to be an entrepreneur and manage my own time and destiny. While working in corporate was a very important part of my journey because it taught me a lot about process, finance, people, politics and the list goes on, it also killed a little bit of my soul each day if I’m honest. I never (and still don’t) understand the micro-managing boss, the clock-watching and the need to be seen at your desk in order to be deemed to be working. If anything I hope that Covid-19 has shown employers and bosses that teams can be trusted and that people can get the job done from anywhere with a little technology and faith. The archaic structures and ways of working felt hugely inefficient to me (read death by meeting) and I always had the sense that unless I wanted to be the director of marketing or CEO of the business I was working for, chances are I would just be making someone else rich in perpetuity.
I started getting itchy feet in 2015 and decided it was time to put an exit strategy into place, which is exactly what I did. I created a side-hustle which I worked at and nurtured after-hours and on weekends; I wanted to gauge the appetite for my craft/service and build up a financial buffer that could tide me over for a while, should I decide to leave corporate entirely. Truth is I needed to remain in corporate while I figured this all out because I wanted the transition to be a smooth one and I wanted to make sure me pursuing my dream of owning and running my own business was the right one. It’s hard to break free of the corporate golden hand-cuffs and the fear of not having someone else there to pay for your expenses is tangible. That was probably my biggest fear at the outset, but as my side-hustle started to grow and the clients rolled in, I started worrying less and less about not being able to pay my bills.
I eventually reached a tipping-point where I had to make a decision: stay in corporate and focus on that for the next 5/10 years, or put on my big-girl panties and quit to run my own business and get a life MBA in the process. I chose the latter and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. The reason I say start a side-hustle is it allows you to test the waters before you make any mammoth decisions. There was always a chance that my side-hustle wouldn’t survive, and in my case I was lucky because it did and my business has continued to survive and thrive, now 5 years on. But if it hadn’t, that would’ve been okay too. I would’ve started something else on the side and used the time straddling corporate and entrepreneurship to test the waters again. I also believe that having something else on the side provides another dimension to your life, perhaps some creativity, or financial freedom, whatever it is I believe it’s good for the soul. For me corporate could never fill up my cup and perhaps that’s why I started the blog so many years ago if I’m honest; I needed something else to keep me inspired and challenged.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Vulnerable
I suppose this is the sort of wisdom you garner as you get older and have banked some important life-lessons. Your 20s are a soup of doubt, ego and confusion and I only learnt to be vulnerable in my 30s. I think when you’re younger you view vulnerability as a weakness, but the opposite is in fact true and I now view it as a huge sense of strength. Being vulnerable allows you to show your truth, your weaknesses and your humanness, something I’ve always found to be met with support, love and understanding. There have been many times in my career where I’ve been open and vulnerable about needing support and appeals like these have sent the universe my way in exactly the manner I was hoping.
Do yourself a favour and start listening to the To Be Magnetic podcast if this sort of thing appeals to you.
7. Prioritise Sleep, Self-care and your Body
Every time I think I’ve got this one taped my body flicks me the bird and says, uh uh, you need more sleep/iron/eye-cream/insert thing here. This year, as I’d imagine has been the case for most, my body took a real beating and I developed shingles on my face. This is when I realised just how much pressure we’re all under and how dangerous constant low-key anxiety is. I’ve always been militant about prioritising sleep because I know how important it is for me and I know I’m a sh*tty human without it; but I didn’t realize quite how much stress and anxiety I was harbouring until last month. With the help of exercise, yoga, CBD oil and breathing I’m trying my very best to remain mindful of just how important self-care is. The irony is I think women and mothers place themselves last in the family food-chain, and this should be the other way around. It’s difficult to mother/parent/partner when you’re falling apart.
8. Harness the Energy of Money
A couple weeks into my journey as a small business owner a friend (and fellow entrepreneur) had a conversation with me about the energetics of money; I can’t remember the exact phrases he used in an attempt to motivate me about what lay ahead, what I retained was the notion that money is boomerang-like and a powerful thing from an energy perspective. Don’t be afraid to spend money in order to make money, and call in what you need. I’ve always kept this conversation in mind and I’ve been amazed by how what I once considered a safety-net (corporate employment) was actually stifling my growth and earning capacity.
9. Hormones Are Important
I feel Baz Luhrman’s iconic Sunscreen song should’ve given hormones some airtime. These babies dictate our entire existence yet I feel they’re not prioritised nor understood nearly enough. We’re existing under perpetual raised cortisol levels which we weren’t designed to do as humans (think fight/flight) yet we’re maintaining this state in perpetuity without reprieve and we wonder why we can’t sleep, why we’re getting sick, why our organs are suffering. We start taking the pill to avoid falling pregnant, or to fix our skins, and pump our bodies with hormones in the process to the detriment of our state of mind/weight/libido etc. We’re ingesting hormones through food and drink, and messing with our own through the pheromones found in all of the scented things we use in our homes and on our skins. We don’t function properly if our hormones are out of kilter, so take them seriously and be mindful of your choices and surroundings.
10. Let the Travel Bug Bite
For me travel is therapy; it consistently offers me different vantage points and broadens my horizons. It allows me to disconnect from home and the mundane, and to find inspiration in new places, cultures, colours and experiences. I understand travel is a luxury, but it’s the one thing I will always save for and prioritise. It’s my travel memories that are the most vivid and I feel like the lessons one learns on these adventures cannot be taught through books nor school. If there’s one thing 2020 has reinforced for me, it’s to appreciate the freedom of travel and to see of much of our country, continent and the world in this short lifetime.
Feel free to comment with some of the things on your learnings list; I’d love to see what you’ve learnt over the past 10 years and what you prioritise as a result.