349: Year in Review: Noteworthy Lessons Gifted by 2023
Pausing to look back at the road you have traveled… this day, this week, this year… is such a power-filled practice.
Because it shows you how you have been showing up in your life and how you might want to navigate the journey forward a little differently.
In this episode of the Grace & Grit Podcast, I share with you 5 of my biggest takeaways from the past year and how I am using that to propel my life forward in 2024.
Have a listen and, if it helps you in some small (or big) way, consider sharing it.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Welcome to Grace & Grit.
The Grace & Grit podcast is your go-to resource for reclaiming, generating, protecting and expressing your power as a woman in midlife.
This show will completely change the way you think about health & well-being and help you make your second act the best one yet!
- 353: Unlocking the Power of Nervous System Regulation at Midlife w/ Irene Lyon
- 352: Rising Strong: The Power of Reorienting at Midlife
- 351: Dreams Interrupted: Exploring the Sleep Dilemmas of Midlife w/ Laini Gray
- 350: Defying Defaults: Life on Purpose
- 349: Year in Review: Noteworthy Lessons Gifted by 2023
Transcripts are auto-generated.
Courtney Townley 0:00
Welcome to the Grace and Grit Podcast made for women who want their healthiest years to be ahead of them, not behind them. Join your host, Courtney Townley right now. As she breaks down the fairy tale health story, you have been chasing all of your life, indispensable action steps and lasting change.
Courtney Townley 0:29
Hello, my friends, and welcome to the Grace & Grit Podcast. This is your host, Courtney Townley. As always, I’m thrilled that you’re here. And I hope you are wrapping up the year with a little bit of juice in the tank. I know it’s really common to end the year feeling depleted and exhausted and burnt out and spent and all of the things. And I’m hoping that this year might just be a little bit different for you, especially if you’ve been listening to this Podcast.
Courtney Townley 0:55
Because that’s really one of the big objectives is that we learn how to manage our resources in a way where we aren’t constantly living in a space of burnout. And hey, if you are in a space of burnout right now, we’ve been there, I have so much empathy for you. And I will, I hope that you will take this as an opportunity to decide here and now that you will not finish next year in the same way.
Courtney Townley 1:24
Now, this is the final episode of 2023. And I thought it would be really interesting and maybe a great opportunity to share with you on this final episode, a few of the big lessons that 2023 gifted me. And I thought that this would be helpful for two reasons.
Courtney Townley 1:46
Number one, I think that when we are vulnerable with each other, and we share some of the lessons that we are learning and things that we are challenged by in our own life, it helps to normalize it, right we normalize the rumble. And the second thing that I hope this does for you is I hope it inspires you to take a little time here at the end of the year to consider the noteworthy lessons that 2023 gifted you. Because when we take that time to pause, we start to learn about ourselves. And when we know better, we tend to do better. And yes, I am very intentionally using the word gifted 2023, gifted all of us some very potent lessons.
Courtney Townley 2:42
And the biggest lessons that life delivers us are often a little or very painful to learn. I remember years ago, I was driving down the road with my I think he was eight years old. My son at the time was eight years old and he was in the back of the car. And all of a sudden I hear this kind of blood curdling scream come from the backseat. And I pulled the car over really quickly. And I turned around and I was like what happened. And he said, Mom, this thing is hot, and in his hand was the cigarette lighter. That comes in cars, I think I don’t even know if all cars even have them anymore. But the car I was driving at the time did and he had pulled it out and put his finger on it. And of course it burned him. And that was an example that is an example of a very physically painful lesson. One that I’m sure he will never make again, because he now understands that those things are hot, and he’s probably not going to poke his little finger back in there. I mean, never say never. But my guess is he learned a lesson because there was pain involved. And I hate that truth. I hate that there’s pain involved in some of life’s most powerful lessons. But I think it’s a gift of pain is it teaches us.
Courtney Townley 4:04
So life is gifting us lessons all of the time. And we often label those lessons as failures, as massive disappointments as huge mistakes. And from the outset of this Podcast today, I’d really challenge you to consider what might shift for you. If you reframe your perspective on those things, to really start thinking that of them as lessons and gifts, and simply life’s curriculum. I’m always talking with my clients about the curriculum that life has for us. And my curriculum is a little different from your curriculum. And we often there are common threads in the things that we learn in life. But you will face different challenges than I face So I’m gonna share a few of my own challenges this year and kind of what I learned from those in the hopes that it will help you to take that time out and do the same for yourself.
Courtney Townley 5:14
So I’m always encouraging my clients to not only reframe the way that they label mistakes and failures. But I also encourage them to do reviews of how they’re showing up in their life. And it’s not just one way I encourage them to do reviews daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, lots and lots of reviews. Because if we don’t pause to take time to review how we showed up and why we showed up in a particular way. We can’t use that Intel to grow and expand ourselves. reviews give us incredible insight about ourselves, and about our strategies. So we can navigate the way forward with hopefully a lot more ease and grace.
Courtney Townley 6:15
When clients hop on a coaching call with me, they know precisely the first two questions I am always going to ask. The first question is Where were your rises since the last time we spoke? And I asked this question for a few reasons. Number one, it is so easy to overlook the fact that there are things in your life that are going really well, there are spaces and places where you are showing up in a really power filled way. Because the human brain likes to focus on the negative, I don’t know why I just know it to be true. And when we focus on the negative all the time, we tend to not to feel so great. And when we don’t feel so great. We don’t show up in awesome ways. So acknowledging wins is a very powerful practice.
Courtney Townley 7:11
And so one of the ways I encourage my clients to start building that practice, is by asking them that question as the very first question every time we meet, where are your rises? Where are you winning? Where are you proud of how you’re showing up? And then of course, the second question I’m going to ask, which is where we do a deep dive into coaching is where are you rumbling? So when you look back at the space of time, since the last time we spoke, where did you struggle? Where did you feel stuck? Where were you having a hard time. And that coaching looks a little different for everyone. Everyone’s rumbles, of course, are a little bit different. And they’re all being caused by slightly different things. But I will say to you, it’s usually one of four reasons that were rumbling. And these are the four areas I just find myself consistently coaching on.
Courtney Townley 8:14
Number one, someone may be rumbling because they have jacked chemistry. So they have no resource availability, because they haven’t been sleeping, they haven’t been eating well. They haven’t been managing their stress, all kinds of reasons when your chemistry is off, it is very difficult to manage your mental and emotional landscape. So definitely chemistry can be a reason your rumbling.
Courtney Townley 8:42
The second thing that I find myself coaching on a lot around rumbles is flood strategy. And there’s usually two camps of flood strategy. Either a person is rumbling because they have no strategy. They have no plan for doing the things they say they want to do. Or their plan is insanely complicated, and not at all reasonable for the resource availability that they do have. So you will go through periods of the year where you have tremendous resource availability, you’re feeling energetic, you’re feeling strong, you have a lot to give life doesn’t feel stressful, but then you’re gonna go through periods of the year that you have very low resource availability. But what I find a lot of women do is they are always planning their days as if they have a tremendous amount of resource availability. And then they wonder why they’re failing to show up.
Courtney Townley 9:45
The third thing I find myself coaching around a lot is stinking thinking. People are thinking about their life and about what’s happening in their life in a way that is beating them down. and making it very difficult, if not downright impossible for them to show up. So we do a lot of mindset work.
Courtney Townley 10:09
And the fourth category that I coach a lot on is emotional inflexibility. So a big reason a lot of people are wrestling, struggling rumbling in their life, is because they aren’t allowing themselves to feel the full spectrum of human emotion. Or there is a particular emotion that they are really adverse to feeling. So maybe that’s discomfort, maybe it’s frustration, maybe it is inconvenience, there’s a lot of things that we shy away from when they show up. And that’s a problem. Because all of those things are a part of behavior change, they’re all a part of moving your life to higher ground. So when clients can identify why they’re rumbling, they can way more easily get to resolving the issues. So they can rise to the occasion that is their life. And yes, sometimes this involves learning new skill sets, right. So there are specific skill sets, I will teach clients and all of these areas to help them rumble with a little more ease and grace. But sometimes, a client just needs clarity on why things went sideways. That’s enough to do course correction.
Courtney Townley 11:35
So all that being said, today, I’m gonna share with you a few lessons five, to be specific that I was gifted this year. And yes, these lessons all came from me getting wildly curious about some very uncomfortable moments. And they, I know that they are going to propel me into a more power filled 2024. So here are and again, these are just a few. There’s a long list that I wrote in my journal about sort of what I learned this year, but these are a few that I just thought I’d share with you today.
Courtney Townley 12:09
The first one being competing interests will always be a thing. So as humans, we often have a lot of interests. And those interests very often compete with one another. Because we only have so much time and energy and mental bandwidth. And I can’t give those resources to all things at all times. And personally, my husband always jokes that I’m like a raccoon, I have like shiny object syndrome, there’s so many things that excite me and that I want to be a part of. And he’s not wrong. I have a million ideas about the things I want to pursue in my business things I want to create in my business. And I want to have quality time with my family and friends. Those two things can very often feel at odds with each other. Because if I’m always creating and always pursuing in my business, I often can find that that’s all I’m putting attention on to the cost of my family and friends. And to make it even worse, I not only have a million ideas for things I want to create in my business, and I want to spend time with my family and friends. But I also want to do what needs to be done to stay in a state of excellent health.
Courtney Townley 13:39
And again, those three things can often feel at odds with each other. Because the more time I’m spending on my health, the less time I’m spending in my business or with family and friends. The more time I’m spending with family and friends, the less time I’m spending on my health or on my business. So they can often feel like competing interests. And one of the things that I was really reminded of in a very powerful way this year, is that reminding myself of my priorities, and more specifically, my priority filter keeps me at peace with how I’m showing up. So how this works is, again, based on the three things I just mentioned, my business, my family, at my family and friends and my health. Those are three really big governing values that I have in my life currently. And sometimes, you know, again, I feel like I want to do all three of those things in in an hour. I want to be with my son, I have a project I need to work on and I want to take care of myself. So how do I decide?
Courtney Townley 14:54
And this one of the things that I’ve been practicing for years that really just helped me immensely. This year was literally to put those three things in order of importance. And that is not easy to do my friends because they all feel so important. But my priority filter currently is my health, my health and well being. Because I know that if I am not taken care of nothing else is going to go well, I’m not going to create easily, I’m not going to show up in my relationships in a way that feels good.
Courtney Townley 15:28
So for me, it just makes sense right now to have health as my top priority. Second to that as my family. And I can’t say that’s always been true. It is very true right now, in that I have had multiple moments this year, where my son has really needed me, or someone in my family, one of my parents has really needed me. And my priority filter has really helped me to decide that you know what, yep, I’m going to cancel this thing in my business, I’m going to postpone it, so I can be there for this person. I’m not saying it was an easy decision. But it was made a heck of a lot easier, because I knew not just what my priorities were, but the order in which they fell. And look, sometimes competing interests look like wanting immediate gratification in the moment, and also wanting to accomplish a long term goal.
Courtney Townley 16:37
For example, I might want to eat a giant piece of cake right now, or the whole cake. And maybe I have a weight loss goal, or I have some kind of, you know, health goal far into the future that that is going to impact. And one that shows up for me a lot is of course, just like any human, I don’t always want to take time to move my body, especially in the winter. Right, I feel like an icicle I just want to freeze myself into place. And moving my body doesn’t always feel like the most compelling thing. So I often want to skip a workout. But I also have this long term goal of staying in excellent health and aging in the most power filled way possible. So sometimes, like once in a blue moon, skipping a workout makes total sense. Because I don’t feel good. Because I haven’t slept in a few nights, it really isn’t the most sensible thing to do. And I just need to be flexible with that. But more often than not, I want to skip a workout because I just don’t feel like doing the thing. And in that moment, I really have to weigh the cost of what is most important to me. Feeling better for the you know, just feeling comfortable immediately. Or leaning into the thing that I said I would do and having that gratification down the road. And the way that I reconcile that in my own brain often is I will lean into something versus nothing.
Courtney Townley 18:16
So if I’m really trying to talk myself out of doing something, I will just remind myself, hey, Courtney, let’s just let’s just give it like 10 minutes. So drive yourself there, get your workout clothes on, move your body for 510 minutes and see where that takes you. And I will tell you nine times out of 10 I’m so glad I did. I just needed momentum. I just needed momentum. So competing interests for me knowing that they’re always going to be a thing. The lesson in that for me, is, again, keeping my priorities front and center. And even more powerfully knowing the order in which those priorities fall. So I can make decisions faster. And I can be at peace with my decisions.
Courtney Townley 19:09
All right, lesson number two that I was reminded of this year, in a very powerful way is knowing what success means to you really matters. If you do not know what success means to you. You will never feel successful. And that sucks. You spend your whole life feeling unsuccessful.
Courtney Townley 19:36
I had a conversation recently with a client who was who was sharing with me that she felt like she wasn’t progressing. And my first question, of course, that I had to ask her was What are you progressing towards? Like how are you what are you using to measure that statement? I’m not progressing. Okay, well what is progression even look like what are you working towards? And not surprisingly, she didn’t know the answer.
Courtney Townley 20:08
So of course, you’re not feeling like you’re progressing. If you don’t even know what you’re progressing towards. It’s really important that you get clarity on what success means to you. And look, the world will happily tell you what success should mean. And I say should in quotation marks. I mean, we are conditioned in every aspect of our life, to pursue success, that looks like something else, something that someone else has defined for us. So it looks like chasing $1 amount, it looks like recognition of some kind. It looks like a fancy house, a nice car, it looks like weight loss. These are a lot of things that culturally, we are conditioned to believe success is. And not only have I been conditioned in all those ways, but I remember specifically a few years back working with a coach, a business coach, whose definition of business success was crossing the $100,000 mark, right making $100,000 a year. And man did I struggle in the time that I worked with her. You know, I couldn’t identify at the time why. But I knew that something was off and just chasing this dollar amount did not feel in alignment to me. I’m not even sure I could have verbalized it in that way back then. But looking back, especially after the year I just had, I can really see where the problem was. I hadn’t defined for myself what business success looks like. And this year, and actually a little bit of last year, but definitely this year, I was very clear on what business success looks like.
Courtney Townley 21:59
For me, it looks like doing work that I love in a way that does not burn me out. It looks like serving clients at a very high level, making enough money certainly to pay my bills and take care of myself for the future. Having time with my family and friends and having time to honor my own health, right. There’s that priority filter that I told you about earlier. And what’s really fascinating, is maneuvering through my business with that clarity. This year, my business exploded, and making money in my business got easier than ever. Why? Because I had to reexamine my business model. In order to figure out how to make these values I have a priority. How do I run a business in a way that allows me to take care of my health and spend time with my friends and family. Again, that priority filter helped me to make decisions in my business. That actually helped me to do very well in my business. Because I defined my success, I didn’t let someone else do it for me.
Courtney Townley 23:24
The third notable lesson from the year from 2023 Was that proving worth and passion can look the same from the outside. So full disclosure, there have been many moments in my life where people have labeled me as passionate as driven as inspirational. And if they could see behind the curtains, all of it was being driven by a lack of self worth. So for a very huge chunk of my adult life, I worked really hard at things. Because I was trying to impress other people. I was trying to prove my worth and my value. And it started at a really early age, by the way. So I grew up in the dance world. And if any of you out there have ever been a part of the professional dance world, you know that you are always trying to please the choreographer, you’re trying to please the audience. You’re trying to get the next role you’re trying to be the star.
Courtney Townley 24:30
I think definitely the way I was raised a little bit influenced my desire to prove my worth. I have amazing parents. And of course no parent child relationship is perfect. And whether that was imparted on me or it’s just something that I started to believe along the way that I had to prove my worth. It doesn’t really matter. I started doing that at a very young age. I think school influenced me to prove my worth, that I was only worthy of praise and accolades and attention and all the things if I was getting really excellent grades. And ultimately, years and years and years of proving my worth led to a whole lot of amazing burnout.
Courtney Townley 25:18
And you know, James Clear has the quote that I’m always repeating, because I just think it’s so brilliant, and it’s so true, which is behavior changes, identity change. And I really saw this year that making decisions from my own innate desire, rather than from proving my worth, had really become a part of my identity. So I really felt that the things that I said yes to, were things that I deeply wanted to say yes to. I didn’t say yes to anything this year to prove my worth, I only said yes to things that made me feel more alive. And because I was genuinely interested in them. And guess what, I am not finishing the year feeling burned out. And I work with a tremendous amount of women, who initially hire me as a coach to pursue goals that are interestingly, someone else’s desire for them. So they aren’t driven from their own desire.
Courtney Townley 26:31
When we do a lot of digging, we find often that some of these goals are actually coming from a place of shutting, or other people’s expectations, or from trying to prove their worth. And these include things like weight loss, and athletic endeavors and financial goals. These things will never make you well or happy, even if you accomplish them, if they are coming from a place of proving your worth. Because when you get there, you still won’t feel worthy. That’s been a huge player, for me a huge insight, a huge lesson. And this year, I think the way this year played out, just really reminded me of that in a way that I’ve never experienced before.
Courtney Townley 27:22
The fourth lesson I want to share with you is that my body, mind and soul are way less tolerant of my own BS. So this isn’t just a gift from 2023, I think this is also a gift from the aging process itself. I know a lot of people do not see or do not feel that what happens to their body is their age, their aging is a gift. Right?
Courtney Townley 27:50
They see it as an inconvenience, they see it as a hardship, they see it as something that shouldn’t be happening. And I could roll with that story. In fact, I’ve definitely had moments of dipping my toes into those waters. And all it does is make me feel like my body is failing me. And that life is getting harder, rather than really more of an opportunity for me to show up for myself in ways that maybe I haven’t before, or maybe at a level that I haven’t consistently shown up at before. So when I buy into that storyline, that aging sucks that my body is failing me that it’s all downhill from here. All I do is suffer more.
Courtney Townley 28:39
And the truth is absolutely, yes. My body needs a whole different level of self care, as I approach 50 than it did in my 20s and 30s. Yes, I definitely mentally suffer more than I ever have. When my brain goes to the dark side of thinking. And yes, I have way more internal friction, meaning that integrity pain that I’m always talking about when I go against the grain of what I know is right for me. That’s what I mean when I say that my mind, body and soul are less tolerant of my own BS. And I don’t see this as a problem. I really see this as a gift. How awesome that my body mind and soul are telling me much faster. This is not okay. The way that you’re showing up right now not okay.
Courtney Townley 29:41
I’m not pissed that my body isn’t letting me get away with things that don’t serve it. I am deeply grateful that the message is so loud and clear that hey Courtney. When you have a few glasses of alcohol, you stay up late. You don’t take Time to exercise your brain, your mindset is in the gutter, things are not gonna go well for you. So I have become way less tolerant of my own BS, which means I spend way less time focusing on problems, and much more time figuring out solutions, and being way more honest with myself about how I need to be showing up at this age and stage of my life, to help my body, mind and soul out.
Courtney Townley 30:35
The final lesson that I want to share with you and again, these are just a few out of so many. But I think this is an important one to reiterate, is that plans really should be written in pencil, not pen. I read that quote earlier this year, and I just laughed out loud because I was like, man, isn’t that true?
Courtney Townley 30:56
Now I make plans every day for how I’m going to spend my time and energy. I make plans for my year in terms of what I want to spend, you know, my weeks and months on. Heck, I have plans that extend out 10 and 20 years. I do that I am such a planner. Because it gives me direction. And it helps me to stay focused on the things that I feel are important to me.
Courtney Townley 31:27
But I also am learning how to stay open to the things that I didn’t know about myself. And sometimes that looks like giving myself permission to change direction. And I don’t have to make that mean anything bad. I don’t have to make it mean that anything has gone wrong. I just know myself on a new level. And so I get to rewrite my plans. And man has that been a grace filled thing. To be okay with just not knowing and being flexible, and giving myself permission to change my mind. We can plan and be flexible. It doesn’t have to be that either or. I’m a planner. Or I always live spontaneously. I think I did a whole Podcast on that like a couple years ago. Right?
Courtney Townley 32:29
The planning versus spontaneity. Nobody wants to live on either end of that spectrum. Most of us crave both. And we can only have both, if we’re willing to write our plans in pencil, not pen. Okay, so wrapping all this up today, I really want to just invite you, like I said at the start of the episode to consider taking a few minutes, or maybe you take a few hours if you need it to review some of your lessons from the past year. And hey, if you want to share them with me, I am all ears I love hearing from you. You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Courtney Townley 33:13
But I would encourage you if you do make the time to set the stage, find a quiet space. You know, maybe turn on some great music, maybe you light a candle, make it an event. set the stage for this period for yourself. Start with celebrating your rises, look back on the year and acknowledge why where you’re proud of yourself. How you showed up in power filled ways. Where were the winds and acknowledged the rumbles acknowledge where things felt harder than you would have liked them to feel where you felt stuck where you made decisions that you probably would have changed. And then just decide how you might use that Intel to support you in 2024. From the bottom of my heart, I want to congratulate you for making it through another year. You did you made it through a whole 365 days. That is awesome. And I cannot wait to see what you make of the next one. I hope you have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends. And I will see you again in 2024 Take care my friends.
Courtney Townley 34:45
Thank you for listening to the grace and grit Podcast. It is time to mend the fabric of the female health story. And it starts with you taking radical responsibility for your own self care. You are worth the effort And with a little grace and grit anything is possible.
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