18 Lessons I Learned in 2018

As I was sitting here writing down my resolutions for 2019, I realized how much I learned and accomplished in 2018. Here are just a few of those highlights:

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  • I quit my 9-5 job as a Director of Marketing

  • I ended a toxic relationship and broke off an engagement

  • I launched a successful web design and branding business where I am now booked out for months (!!!)

  • I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina from Louisville, Kentucky

  • I learned how to live by myself and pay the bills completely alone

  • I became a dog mom to a sweet girl I adopted from Kentucky Humane Society

  • I got off of all my anxiety and depression medicine by practicing mindfulness (your mind is a powerful tool, y’all)

  • I made new friends in a new city

  • I doubled my corporate income by working with my dream clients in my own business

  • I fell in love with myself again

Needless to say, it was a busy year. And I learned A LOT. So here is a list of 18 of the biggest lessons I learned from 2018. ⠀


1. You learn by doing.

One of my quotes is “leap and the net will appear.” I remember when I started out on this journey- I was so confused. I was constantly bombared with more things to-do than I could count but not really ever knowing where to start. That’s when I realized that the number one thing you can do is ANYTHING. Take action. Once you start to take action you will be amazed at how you end up connecting the dots and how you will begin to figure it all out. You learn by doing.

2. You need to go to the spiritual gym everyday.

This is so important. I found that nothing inspires me more than listening to other podcasts and reading books about entrepreneurship. I do this everyday to reignite the fire when I begin to feel burnt-out. I read at least a chapter every single morning before I get out of bed, listen to podcasts when I shower and clean, and constantly immerse myself in positivity and motivation. It has helped me tremendously to keep putting one foot in front of the other, even when it seems sometimes impossible.

3. It’s all figureoutable.

When I was starting I had to write this down in my journal every single day. I remember how confused I was about EVERYTHING. What is my TAX ID number? How do I LLC? What does a bookkeeper even do? Am I following the law right now? How will people pay me? How often do I post? What do I post on? Who takes these photos of these people? I had THOUSANDS of questions pop into my head daily. HOW AM I GOING TO PAY MY RENT? Then I realized that it is all figureoutable. Seriously. Every question you have can be answered. You’re not the first person who has ever asked these questions. Get a mentor, find a community to be a part of, and ask. And you will figure it out. When have you not figured it out?

4. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is invaluable.

The key to my success in business is networking. I love my tribe of women that I have that are also killing the entrepreneurship game. Seriously. They are all so amazing and they inspire me to do big things every single day. It is invaluable to find your tribe to walk along with. They will pick you up when you are feeling down. They will remind you that it’s okay to feel tired, burnout, uninspired, but that tomorrow is a new day and a new time to try and reinvent yourself.

5. It’s okay to say no.

Give yourself permission to say no. To clients, to dates, to friends, to family. You are one person and you shouldn’t do anything you don’t feel like doing just because you have this self-induced obligation to do it. People will be way less upset than you think if you are honest and say no. You wake up every single day with limited time and limited energy to put out into the world and you shouldn’t have to spend a minute doing anything you don’t want to do.

6. It’s okay to say yes.

In the same light, it is OKAY TO SAY YES! Give yourself to say yes to the things that you feel may be splurging or not a priority. Buy the shoes. Take the trip. Take the nap. Say yes to things that you want to do- and figure the rest out later. I used to feel so much guilt around actually saying yes to things that actually lit me up and things that I really, really wanted. I used to feel guilt for taking weekend trips or going out to dinner with my friends- but those are the things that recharge me and make me happy. So I have given myself permission to say yes. And that is so, so incredibly important.

7. Trust your gut.

I had one client call this year when I hung up and knew that I shouldn’t work with them. Red flags everywhere. It was kind of like a bad date- one where you leave and know that you shouldn’t continue, but also you’re kind of desperate and just want someone there (guilty!) I ended up working with them for a short period of time, and I was so exhausted. Mentally. I cried every single day. I had to go see a therapist. I finally had to do my first and only “client break-up.” I could have avoided so much exhaustion by just trusting my gut. You will know when you should say no. Or when you should say yes. Please listen to that.

8. Don’t compare yourself to other people in the industry.

When I was starting my business I remember looking at every other graphic and web designer and wanting to model my brand after them. Then a very special mentor told me to not look at anyone elses websites/logos/etc while I was creating my own. I listened and totally tuned out all competition and was able to create a brand that was truly authentic to my own without it seeming cookie-cutter or being a certain way “just because it was supposed to be.” Studying your competition is good, but don’t do it when trying to create from your heart.

9. Making friends as an adult is hard.

This is something I wish there was a magic fix to. Moving to a totally new place and working from home and for myself made me realize how hard it is to find people and make friends. Still trying to figure this part out, but it’s something I have learned the hard way.

10. It’s crucial to remember why you are doing this all.

Why did you start a business? Was it to not live paycheck-to-paycheck? Financial freedom? Location freedom? Being able to have a flexible schedule for your kids? Not having to listen to someone boss you around all day? It’s so crucial to hold on to that and remind yourself of it when things get hard. I wanted to be my own boss because I wanted to travel the world and create with purpose and feel passion and happy with my work for once. Whenever I get discouraged (or just really tired) I give myself permission to remember my “why” and go back to it and it always inspires me to try again, and try harder.

11. People will think you are crazy.

Your friends, strangers, and everyone may think you are insane at first. Avoid it and keep pushing. I always told myself “they will see one day…”

12. Your family may never actually understand what you do.

It is so funny to try to hear my parents explain what I do to other family members when we are all together. “Karima owns her own business… she does, uh, Karima you tell them.”

13. You have to hire help to grow.

I am a control-freak and I’m the first to admit it. I want to do everything by myself to make sure it gets done the way I wanted it to. I had to let this go so quickly in business. I had to hire a business coach, I had to hire a bookkeeper, a Pinterest manager, and help for all the aspects of my business that weren’t necessary for ME to do. You can’t do it all, and we have to wear enough hats already, and it was so important for me to get that help and that’s how I was able to truly grow my business. I am so thankful I can spend my time doing the only thing I can do- creating, knowing that all these other parts of my business are still moving forward and growing and that the wheels are still spinning.

14. Investing in yourself is necessary.

I remember someone telling me “Why would anyone invest in you if you don’t invest in yourself?” I thought this statement was so, so strong. The first investment I made was in a business coach. I realized that if I spent that money- I wouldn’t waste her time, my time, or my money. Investing in myself and my business was one of the best decisions I ever made.

15. Money is a resource, just like everything else.

I have had a lot of money mindset issues I’ve had to work past. A LOT. I had to realize that money comes and it goes just like any other resource. Oxygen is a limited resource but we don’t go around worrying about running out of that. You have to understand that money is just means to an end to exchange services, and it will always come when you need it.

16. Failure is inevitable.

I have failed this year in business, in life, in relationships. And everytime I pull myself back up and get right back to it. Failure is inevitable but you have to trust that there is a lesson from every failure and that it is a blessing in disguise, and that something better is on the other side.

17. Mindset is everything.

This year I have realized how incredibly powerful my mind is. It’s amazing what we can convince ourselves is true (or not) just by changing our thoughts and perspective. Having a good mindset is the most important part of owning a business. It will get you places you never expected to go.

18. Wellness is a business decision

I could scream this from the rooftops. Wellness is a business decision, people! I remember when I started out. I hardly ever scheduled self-care into my day. I thought it would just come to me. Or that it could wait. I thought client work was so much more important than my own health and wellness. I would put off going to the gym, I’d put off meditating, I’d put off nourishing my body with healthy food. I’d order Jimmy Johns, force myself to stay awake and work, and I was crashing. Quickly. Every expert in every field will tell you how important self-care is and how you need to always, ALWAYS prioritize wellness. Ever since I’ve done it I feel like my quality of work (AND LIFE!) is so much better. You will see results so quickly once you make wellness and self-care a priority. Start today.