New Year, New You: 12 People Explain The Biggest Lesson They’ve Learned About Themselves In The Past Five Years

New Year, New You: Here are the lessons professionals told us they learned about themselves in the past five years.

New year, new you. How many times have we all pledged this to ourselves as we pop champagne to welcome another 365 days, hoping that we’re finally going to chase our goals, follow our dreams and live our best lives? Yeah, probably a helluva lot of us.

Unfortunately, life tends to happen, meaning we derail from our promise rather quickly into the new year. Whether that means (gradually) fading out of gym time, binging on junk food, forgetting our plans to work a side hustle and everything in-between, the whole new year, new you think falls by the wayside pretty fast if you’re not too careful.

But don’t be so hard on yourself if this sounds similar, because, while you may not feel like you’re improving, believe that you most definitely are. It may be small things, it may be big things, but, as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” so you need to take progress where you can — and, sometimes, it doesn’t hit you until down the line with how much has changed about yourself.

Thanks to email and the power of LinkedIn, we asked 12 professionals to reveal the biggest lesson they’ve learned about themselves in the past five years, proving that there’s plenty to celebrate as we get older, understand ourselves better and improve in all areas of our lives. Take a look at some of the replies below.

JAMES BARRASS-BANKS (Digital Solutions Consultant)

“You can easily lead someone else’s ideal life whilst neglecting what’s right for you. When I started being honest with myself about what drove me and what was important, I started making changes. It led me to change my job industry, where I live and the hobbies I had, and it led me to develop more meaningful relationships. The power it gives you is incredible. You start saying ‘No’ to things that suck your energy. You start saying ‘Yes’ to things outside of your comfort zone. These will help you grow into a better person. A more authentic person. If you’re looking to take a similar step I’d highly recommend finding a coach or a mentor to help you.”


“I’ve endured more in five years than someone has in 20 years. You have to reinvent yourself. The internet is your friend; as long as you use it right. Body of work counts more than digital imprint. A 9 to 5 doesn’t equal success; you define your success. A successful person cannot truly be defined as successful until they help the person that comes behind them. The term ‘arrived’ isn’t used correctly. If you’re able to create success, dial in on the things that you liked in your youth and re-create it in present day. A job is cool… but you have to create a personal brand, too!”

KATRINA NADA (Account Manager, Private Sector)

“I had to realize that not everyone has the same motivation and aspirations as me, and that’s OK. It doesn’t make them any lesser. Not everyone wants to be CEO, and that is fine. Why? Because happiness is personal. Also, what would a company be like if everyone wanted to be CEO? Everyone has a role to play.”

ALAN BROWN (Co-Founder and CEO at DNA Seattle)

“I’ve learned to be myself, to care less about what other people think of me, and to not take everything so seriously.”

BEN HOLTHUS (Financial Advisor)

“Becoming a dad changed my perspective a lot in what I value and prioritize.”

AMBER BELUS (Facilities Assistant)

“That I can handle a lot of shit! When I was younger, I used to doubt myself a lot and didn’t possess much confidence. Now, nothing scares me.”

THOMAS BOBSON (Marketing Director)

“I can trust my instincts. I was fortunate to have a healthy upbringing coupled with a good education and strong work experience. Combining ethics with experience allows for good instincts and healthy confidence.”

GREGG ROSENZWEIG (Creative Director + Managing Editor)

“That taking certain things for granted is foolish. That unconditional love, the passion of youth and my ability to absolutely crush a softball are fleeting. That working for myself is a gift—but working smarter, not harder, is the way to go. That the older I get, the quicker life goes. And to that point, that life is too short to take shit from anybody. Surround yourself with people you like.. and the universe will become an easier place to live and love.”

LAUREN HOLT (Senior Account Executive)

“To live in the present and focus on what I can control. Of course, it’s much easier said than done. I’m not saying to avoid planning ahead, but focus on what you can get done in that day. I used to stress out about every little thing, or worry about what the future holds, but life is way less stressful when you focus on the things you can control and take things a day at a time.”

MEREDITH BODGAS (Editor-in-Chief)

“You can’t be a successful working parent without support; from your family, your manager and your colleagues. Kids are unpredictable, and no matter how many backup plans you have to make sure your work is unaffected, something will fall through. And it takes understanding and help from others to make it all work, no matter how self-reliant and buttoned-up you are.”

NICHOLAS SPIKE (Senior Vice-President)

“That I can’t control everything and need the help of those around me. Learn who can help and who can’t, then trust those you will.”

PATRICK GEVAS (Vice-President)

“That I have so much more learning about myself to still do. I found myself in certain patterns while in my 20s that were tough to break. I’ve learned to be a little more patient with myself and to embrace the skills my career has taught me.”

While we all may pledge to a new year, new you motto, just because things aren’t done within 365 days, doesn’t mean people aren’t improving. So be kind to yourself and continue to grow at your pace; life’s about the story, not the event.


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