Looking Back: The 5 Most Valuable Lessons I Learned (or Re-Learned) in 2011

I’ve been thinking about this post for over a month. The one I wrote last year was so well received, and important to me in many ways. This type of post is so much more personal than the content I normally share on this blog, but I think that’s a good thing. I almost didn’t write this post this year. Many of my lessons learned in 2011 where of the harsh and often brutal kind that aren’t really fit for public publication on a professional blog. At the same time I think there is some benefit to taking the rough and ragged things and polishing them up, for both you and me. Things are so hectic, I haven’t blogged for over a month, I’ve been flirting with the idea of letting the blog just fade away.  There are so many others writing great things, I’m not sure I’m adding to the mix any more and my time and attention are wrapped up in reading and writing about public policy for my degree and my involvement in ALA and OITP and other projects. But enough on the fate of the blog, for now let’s look back at 2011.

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1. Don’t settle.

Don’t settle. Just don’t. Not for the status quo because everyone tells you that’s just the way it is. Not for that mediocre (or horrible) job you were misled into taking. Not for the wrong guy. Not for a good apartment in the wrong town, or the wrong apartment in a good town. Not for the you that isn’t the you that you want to be. Not for less than the perfect pair of shoes. Whatever your dream is, don’t settle. Sure you need a job to pay the bills, a place to live and (probably) a car to drive, but that doesn’t mean you should ever stop working towards what you really want. Get a plan, a real plan, not 1. collect underpants 2. ? 3. Profit. Work towards it. Yes you will have to work and probably make some sacrifices, but in the end it will be worth it.

2. Kindness is underrated. 

Seriously. It doesn’t go on your resume or on LinkedIn. We don’t look for it in our leaders or our presidents, but we do, at least we should look for it, in our friends. This year was hard, really hard, there is a lot I don’t remember, some I’d like to forget, but what I remember with certainty is who was kind to me. Honesty, sometimes I was surprised and occasionally shocked, at the kindness from family, friends, associates, distant associates, and sometimes strangers. Even when you have nothing else to give you have kindness, sometimes that’s worth more than anything else.

3. All you need is love. 

Yep, it’s cheesy, but it’s true. This year was a hard one for me and my family, but we were there for each other. I know many of my friends (too many) had a rough year too, but we were there for each other. At least I know they were there for me in super, awesome, amazing ways and I hope I was there for them too. Seriously, I have the best friends and colleagues and supporters ever, big love to all of you.

4. Be generous. 

Actually this isn’t a new lesson but an old one. It’s my personal motto to live by through the years. But I relearned it on several levels this year. Be generous with others, but also yourself. Be generous with your time, your forgiveness, your understanding, your support, your praise, your patience, your caring, your kindness, and your love.

5. Know when to quit. 

Whether it’s a bad job, self loathing, trying to lose that last 5 pounds, or a bad relationship of any kind. In the words of The Gambler

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, know when to run.

Some times that thing you are beating yourself up about, killing yourself for or just letting ruin you isn’t worth it. It’s ok to cut and run. About a year and a half ago I started working on being more positive. Not that I was super negative before, but I was in a bad situation, a couple of them actually, and at least one was of the sort that doesn’t have an immediate exit. Instead of dwelling on the bad I decided to try to dwell on the good. I’ve always been fascinated by the human brain and how the mind works so I started reading*.  This led to the elimination of some bad habits, bad relationships and bad people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a work in progress but there’s value in assessing the things in your life and figuring out if they are contributing to the life you want (remember lesson 1).

*You may have seen me post these on FB or Twitter or the blog over the last year but here a few of the books, blogs & Facebook pages :


Blogs/Facebook pages

Recommended Reading:

19 thoughts on “Looking Back: The 5 Most Valuable Lessons I Learned (or Re-Learned) in 2011

  1. What a lovely post to start the New Year. What strikes me about it most is that when you compare it to the one you wrote last year at the same time, it becomes rather obvious that you have been working on being positive. And rather than choosing to self-promote or tout your accomplishments, you have chosen to talk about generosity, kindness, and love, resulting in a very generous and kind post. I can’t think of a better way to use this platform. I hope 2012 is a better year for you. I am also a big fan of The Positivity Blog. I think the only thing I would add to your list is be grateful, but you expressed gratitude several times within the other categories. Thanks again for a thoughtful post.


    1. Thank you Bonnie. I can see how last years lessons look more negative, and in tone they definitely are. They were an important step towards this years lessons, you have to be able to accept and let go of those things before you can move on. I’m really looking forward to 2012!


  2. Bobbi, hang in there. Life is a series of deaths and renewals. Perseverance is the key. 2012 will be a great year for you. You’re an awesome writer and thinker, and you have the courage of your convictions.


    1. Thank you so much Will. Things are really looking up right now, but there were moments this year when someone would say – you’ll get through this, and I would think I know we will but it’s the part between here and “through this” that I’m worried about. I think we are finally at the “through this” point and I am very grateful to start the New Year in a better place. Thank you for your kind words.


  3. Hi Bobbi, I’m glad you are hanging in there with your blog, it’s not quantity but sincerity that keeps me reading. Kindness is underrated; I’ve learned that the smallest kind gesture can make someone’s day. My 2012 resolution is to try harder, especially with those patrons I prefer to avoid. Let’s see how far into the new year it will last.


  4. Yeh nice post and im glad you decided to post it, like last year. there is a small spelling mistake i feel in point 3. all you need it love – shouldnt it be all you need is love? anyways its nothing to bother about i guess, thanks for the post again.


  5. That book the Geography of Bliss is my current read. YES!! Also, all of these are also my big realizations for the year. Mostly, be generous, I’m going to give a lot more away this year (especially with love and hugs to all the good people that have made my life wonderful the last couple of years.)


  6. Like everyone else, I love this post. Thank you. If you haven’t checked out Tal Ben-Shahar’s books, do it! They are must reads, especially his book on leaving perfection at the door. Best wishes for the year ahead.


  7. Terrific post, Bobbi. I, too, have read The Geography of Bliss and it is a wonderful way to open your eyes to what is around you.

    Here is hoping that the best of last year will be your worst of this one!


  8. Thanks for the post. I think 2011 was a volatile, growing/transition year for a lot of people: not a fun year, but a year you struggle through and wind up a better person for the experience. I think you learned some important things and, by sharing, will make a lot of people’s lives easier and better. 🙂


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