Lessons and Learnings from 2018


It’s a natural thing to do, reflect on the year past. I saw a post the other day where the person was mad, no angry, at 2018. Foul language was used to describe it and they couldn’t wait to see the clock turn to welcome a New Year. I am often intrigued at those who have the approach that a new number will magically transform their lives. While it is a fresh start and a new chapter, there’s not much different from yesterday unless it’s you.

I can’t put more negative energy into circumstances that have already been hard. To me that’s counterintuitive. To some that’s their way of dealing with whatever has gone on for them this year and to be fair I have no idea what this person was eluding to. It could have been really, really bad for all I know. But it caused me to think.

This is my third post about lessons and learnings from a years worth of experience. You can read 2016 and 2017 if you feel so inclined. I like looking back and remembering the things I went through, and how they changed me. While each year has had it’s good, bad and ugly, It’s the time to pause and consider the learnings, the benefits and what I can do differently in my life because of it.

Here is the long and short of what 2018 taught me.


Gratitude is a muscle. I’m no fitness guru however I do know the more you use your muscles in the same way, muscle memory kicks in and it becomes a repetitive thing. Throughout 2018 I tried everyday to practice gratitude and recognize something to be thankful for. In the midst of stress, and frustration, it helped calm and refocus me. In the midst of excitement and accomplishment it kept me humble. And you know, it changed a lot. Arguably not everything, however the point is I spent less time dwelling on negative things than I have in years past and I spent more time thinking of the positive things in my life and being happy. I still have work to do, however I’m excited to move into 2019 with my gratitude muscle flexed and ready to work even harder.



I shared a similar thought on comparison last year, however this is still a work in progress for me. We are inundated with well curated photos, people travelling to far away places for a living, influencers getting rich off of their Instagram and a world full of people who have made it big by way of the internet. It’s easy to get distracted by what other people are doing and of course comparing our lives to theirs. Regardless of whether I know them or not. I often wish I could be someone different online, express myself better, have prettier photos, blah…blah…blah. But I refuse to be someone I’m not and give off a false impression of myself. If you ask me about my career and getting to where I am now, I will be honest and real. I hope to do the same in the platforms I share on even in light of the pretty. In a world of perfect photos and contrived lives, there does still exist the real, the beautiful and the thoughtful. And this is where I want to be. I learned this year, people enjoy following our journey at Nyla Free Designs and this has made me so happy. It’s also given me the opportunity to really consider what our online purpose is. Creativity, inspiration, learnings, honesty, real life interior design is what we strive for..



I’m really hard on myself. So celebrating things doesn’t always come easy for me. Every year has good days and bad days, and as we we worked through the tough ones it became more important to celebrate the good, regardless of size. Each moment of accomplishment and success we would make a point of a high five, hug, celebratory cheer and raising a toast to acknowledge our hard work. This inevitably made us stronger as a team and more connected. Sharing in all the ups and downs built our sense of community, even within a small business.



2018 started out rough. We had just moved into our new office. I had more staff than I’ve ever had and the least amount of work in years. Add in a bad google review that left me feeling genuinely attacked, being ousted from an industry opportunity because I had to pull out of another, projects put on hold, financial strain, the Calgary economy painfully crawling out of a recession and I could go on. We all have bad days, but this was a few bad months. It felt relentless. The ups were hard to find and the downs took us deep down. We made some internal changes, continued to keep our heads held high, remain positive and plow through until April when things made a drastic turn. So much so we had to hire an administrative assistant. So why am I sharing this doom and gloom? Because I’m an honest and transparent person and I want to share that it’s not always Instagram perfect on the other side of your phone.. And being an entrepreneur is hard. So hard. But “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”. And that’s exactly what I did. And since April of 2018 our year has been full of excitement, hard work, amazing clients and with this we’re back on track. I could not be more grateful for where we are now, and for what we’ve been through. It reminded me that “this too shall pass” and that “I was made to do hard things”. Thankfully I have a support team like no other; my family first and foremost, amazing team at NFDI and of course friendships in the industry who can relate to the rollercoaster ride of owning your own business.


So, thank you 2018. You took me to levels of emotion I have not reached before, you caused me to pause and be grateful each day, you reminded me to celebrate even the smallest of accomplishments and that the grass is not always greener on the other side, regardless of what one’s online presence may say.

And here’s to 2019. I’m looking forward to everything you’re going to teach me.


Nyla Free Designs is a Calgary Interior Design studio specializing in mid-high end residential design in Alberta and BC. We’d love to connect with you!

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