NOA NOIR
NOA NOIR

Freelance

2017 Quality Lessons

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2017 was a year full of learning for me, with some important lessons that will set the tone for 2018. It seems as though everything I've experienced this year comes back to the same theme: quality. From how I spend my time and money, to the relationships that I keep and the projects & clients that I take on; it feels as though 2017 was the year to open my eyes and come to some seriously important realizations (maybe turning 30 had something to do with that as well).

Enjoy the moment 
Especially the small ones... Looking back on the year, some of the moments that still make me smile (or tear up) the most maybe lasted a few minutes, some just mere seconds. A funny moment shared with a friend, bonding over a similar experience with a new business contact, having an easy dinner with a nice glass of wine at home. It's those unexpected small moments that make you feel great and end up being worth so much.

Collaboration is key
From a quick chat to actually working together on a project, this year I focused on connecting and collaborating more with others. Even though this year has been more talk than action, I already have some great plans for 2018 that I look forward to working on with a team.

Believe in your own elevator pitch
Knowing exactly what you strive for is one thing, but actually convincing yourself of your capabilities to get there is another. This is something I am still working on while I'm figuring out my freelance business; it's so easy to end up doing projects that aren't in line with what you want to do (anymore).

Intuition above all
A very, very, very important lesson that I truly believe in, but sometimes ignore during 'skeptical moments': trust.your.gut. I have had several moments during this year where something didn't feel quite right from the beginning, but I ignored that feeling and continued anyway. And guess what... every single time it ended in me telling myself that I should have listened to my gut feeling. It's especially important when it comes to taking on new work, because these "wrong experiences", despite being good lessons, really suck up so much energy.

Say 'no' to things
On that note... say NO to the things that aren't in line with your goals. Finish that elevator pitch, believe in your capabilities, and kindly decline anything coming your way that doesn't feel quite right and/or fits your vision.

Invest in yourself
It's so, so important to invest in yourself... the way that it suits you. Whether it's working out regularly, signing up for workshops, going to networking events, reading books, painting your nails, binge-watching Netflix... it doesn't matter. Whatever makes you feel good, balanced and helps you to be on top of your game: don't underestimate the power of me-time.

It's ok to be lazy
Following the above, and I'm mostly talking about those long Netflix nights: who cares, just do it. There is a time for work and there is a time for play. Sometimes being a couch potato and switching off completely really helps me in delivering better work. It's kind of like a reset-button for my brain to avoid getting caught up in too many ideas.

Experiences above materialism
I love to spend money on pretty things, but this year I have prioritized a few trips and quality time with friends above new pairs of shoes or another piece of clothing. I have also spent more money than ever on interesting books and workshops and it's made me feel more satisfied and happy than any other new item I've bought.

Appreciate your friendships
I've always been a 'quality above quantity' person when it comes to my relationships, favouring a small group of close friends over a large network of acquaintances. I believe in the statement that "You are the average of the five people you most associate with". I find it very important to prioritize the people that are important to me, sometimes to the extent that I spend less time with (or on) others to 'save up energy' for my favourite people.

Go with the flow
I've had a few moments (not only this year) where I was so extremely disappointed that something didn't work out, but in the end these moments always led to something better or more in line with what I want. Whether it's a matter of "not meant to be" or a chain reaction of events, one thing is for sure: things have a way of working out. So I am trying to worry less and get up quicker after a fall, so I am always ready to take on a new opportunity.

The power of your mind
The power of your mind is another reason not to dwell for too long on failures and disappointments. I don't necessarily believe that positive thoughts make things happen directly, but they certainly help you identify and attract new opportunities more easily. An open mind and a sense of curiosity lead you to walk down paths you usually wouldn't even notice. Especially in a negative mindset it's so easy to focus on the bad things that you can't even see that you might as well try something else. What's there to lose anyway?

The value of disconnecting
I have said it before and I'll say it again: offline life is more important than online life. Between all the likes, followers, highlight life & an overflowing e-mail inbox, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and at the same time feel the need to stay on top of everything. I often felt guilty not posting on Instagram every day or leaving an unanswered e-mail until Monday, but now I try to put it into perspective. Will I care about any of this in 5 years? Will I still worry about not having published a post every single day? Or ignoring my inbox during the weekend? I don't think so. Of course consistency and strong communication are important, but "real life" should always be a priority. 

So, there you have it. 12 quality lessons from 2017 that will also serve as my guide to life in 2018. I don't think I'll set any specific resolutions, but rather focus on the bigger picture and fill out the details along the way. For now I am going to enjoy the last few days in this year with some quality drinks, food & people...

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Pictured: Johnnie Walker Blue Label, which was generously gifted to me and
will be thoroughly enjoyed on NYE!