INSPIRATION JOURNAL

Deep Thoughts from 2017

Every year I write these yearly personal reflection posts, I start with some kind of statement like “what a year,” (wow that’s very original, Erin) and 2017 was no different.

I want to note that the title “deep thoughts” is meant to be facetious, if you didn’t already get that. These are entirely personal, and none of them are going to cure cancer. But I share them because if they help one person, then that’s enough.

This was a year that many things really came full circle for me, the biggest theme being my creative interests. I have written before about my longtime passion for photography–– something I had given up on in my early 20’s out of fear and doubt. The second half of this year marked my full return to it.

In continuing my yearly tradition (Deep Thoughts from 2016, 2015 and 2014), here are my very personal reflections from 2017.

LONG TERM VISION BEATS SHORT TERM WINS

Short-term wins are great ego boosters. One-time gigs can be a good thing (and even necessary!) for your bank account. But if they are not contributing to your long-term vision for your future and the world you want to live in, my opinion is that it may deserve more thought. Sometimes we don’t know what the hell our long term vision is in the first place. But with every opportunity, relationship, and job we pursue, we can ask ourselves if that thing is aligned with how we want to be and/or the vision we want to work toward. This way of thinking allows us to say no to the wrong things and make room for the right things.

MENTORSHIP IS INFINITELY VALUABLE

From time to time, I look back on articles on this blog and find it so funny how I wrote as if I had answers! I never had answers, and I still don’t–– but this is the most comfortable I have ever been with admitting what I don’t know. As a recovering know-it-all, this feels really good and refreshing. This year, admitting the room I had to grow allowed me to learn from friends and mentors more than I ever have.

Earlier this year, I was at a Sony conference and plopped myself down next to landscape, travel and humanitarian photographer Colby Brown. He was super friendly and receptive, so I asked him a few questions about his path and business and took his feedback to heart. Fast forward six months and I found myself in a helicopter with Colby above the Namib Desert in Namibia. This is because I identified him as someone I could really learn from, and did whatever I could to get myself in a position where I could work for, with, or alongside him. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of mentorship, and the investment (time, energy, money) that it requires.

PAY ATTENTION!

I’m a God person, but please feel free to substitute The G Word for The Universe, or simply for your own inner wisdom, as I truly think this applies to everyone regardless of spiritual belief. Look, you get a lot of clues in life if you are open to receiving them. Until this year I ignored the things that were right in front of me– signs that were all around me consistently– because I thought I knew better! THAN GOD. Noooooo. Things that are not for you will never be for you, no matter how much you try to push and pull and manipulate them. Things that are for you will always be. Stop trying to contort yourself into a job, relationship or situation that isn’t working. Let go and see what flows instead.

KNOW WHEN TO BE PATIENT

I can still hear my grandmother repeating “patience is a virtue” to me as a kid, advice that always fell on stubborn ears. I have historically rushed into things and wanted to see immediate successes, but there are some things that are really only good with time. There is no substitute for practice or experience, and you can’t get down on yourself for lack of results if you haven’t been actively trying for a good while. So do your thing consistently over a long period of time. Know when to pursue something, but also be gentle with the process, and know when to be patient (personal progress), and when not to be (standing up for what is right).

RUN YOUR OWN RACE

How amazing is it that you will never be successful running someone else’s race? You will never be able to do exactly what they’ve done, because you aren’t them! Their shoes won’t fit you. How incredible is it that you have full permission to stop comparing yourself to anyone else, because it is actually 100% absurdly useless?! Ha!!! This one felt like unlocking a secret golden treasure room, one that I hope to return to whenever I need the reminder.

Your path is yours and yours only. Don’t know where your lane is yet? That is OK. You’re already on it, so stop trying to force it. Experiment with anything that feels exciting to you, and if you fall into the comparison trap (we all do), scoop yourself right back out.


I would love to hear about your reflections from this year, so please share them with me in the comments or link me to your blog posts. Here’s to another year of learning for all of us. Wishing you a healthy winter solstice and a joyous start to 2018.

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  • Reply
    Chantel
    December 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Great post! I especially liked the part where you remind everyone to run their own race. I think too often we all compare our path or current situation in life to others, especially since social media makes that easy. I look up to great photographers, like you, who are capturing such insane beauty and experiencing places that I hope one day to, but it’s important to remember that our paths may be different and that’s ok…because each is beautiful. Could you imagine how boring it would be to see everyone living the same life and having the exact same life story?! I think there’s so much more beauty that comes from people having different paths and sharing different experiences. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      December 29, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Thank you Chantel! Comparison is the worst and everyone falls into the trap at some point, I know I certainly do sometimes. It is also so comforting to know that even if we were to try to be exactly like someone else, it wouldn’t work for us! There is only one way and it is through our own unique story. xo

  • Reply
    Laura
    December 22, 2017 at 12:57 am

    Hey Erin!
    Isn’t it amazing, how the universe (or God, or someone/something else) always leads us to what we need?
    I’ve been busy the last weeks, a lot of work at the office, a whole load of more work for my upcoming book release in 2018 and I gotta admit: I didn’t make it to read my favourite blogs regularly.

    But today, today of all days, I made the time to drink my coffee and read your blog and what do I find? Exactly the words someone needed to say to me. The same words the universe is shouting at me, but I didn’t hear.

    Yesterday was a really tough day. I’m working as a freelancer and I’ve been told (perfect timing, right before the holidays!) that there will be a budget cutback “soon” and 1/4 of my business will likely vanish into thin air sometime next year. Yesterday I was furious, crushed and disappointed, because everybody keeps telling me, that the job was brillantly executed and that it’s not my fault.

    Well. Today, I am still a little gloomy, but you got it right: It’s no use trying to push a situation that’s obviously not for me. It’s no use to hang on to this, if I cannot change it. Maybe it’s the universe’s way to tell me that it’s time. Time to move on to other things. Maybe it’s time to finally get a literary agent and get my novels going. Who knows. I’ll just try to relax (a little) and let if flow.

    So, thanks Erin. Again. Wonderful writing.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      December 29, 2017 at 11:53 am

      God always leads us to what we need. Always always! The universe is always working in our favor, but we have to be listening. I totally relate to your freelance challenges. Losing 25% of your income is not easy… but it is an opportunity to pursue what is for you. I had something similar happen to me and I made a list of all the income streams I currently have, then I projected some numbers for the next year and decided where to focus. Losing a client, especially a big client, is shitty for sure. No way around that. But it is a huge opportunity to take control of your destiny. No matter how much the circumstances may try to convince you that you don’t have control, YOU DO! Step into it. xo

  • Reply
    Rosie
    December 22, 2017 at 4:02 am

    Great post, I think every point is absolutely valid and applicable to all of us. I especially liked your point about knowing the answers – as bloggers we tend to share advice, knowledge, and tips but all we can share is what we know up to the point of writing it. I think accepting that we don’t know what we don’t know and that we are continually learning is so important.

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      December 29, 2017 at 11:55 am

      Thanks Rosie! It took me a while to admit what I didn’t know… totally agree!

  • Reply
    Glo
    December 23, 2017 at 3:57 am

    Oh, Erin, you are just a breath of fresh air in every sense of the word. As I get to know you better, I can’t help but feel like we are kindred spirits. This is so timely, refreshing, and poignant. You’re wise beyond your years and no doubt 2018 & beyond will bring some much-anticipated wins, discoveries, and overall success. Amazed by you daily. Merry Christmas! XOXO

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      December 29, 2017 at 11:57 am

      GLO – same to you. Your resiliency, humor and general hilarity bring light to my life every day. So excited to see where 2018 takes you. Selfishly I hope it takes you somewhere near me. LOL. xo

  • Reply
    Sylvia
    December 23, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Well said dear! I totally agree with your advice here.

    This year began in a rather stressful way but i scooped myself up and started focusing on what kind of life will make me happy. That allowed me to start doing my thing ….and next thing i know i have an outdoors blog with 4,000 followers (and counting) a mere 5 months after i launched it.

    Life will never be the same and i have big changes coming up next year! Feel good to be that excited about Life!

    Wishing you all the best in your endeavors Erin!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      December 29, 2017 at 11:58 am

      That is epic, Sylvia! Proof that you are capable of creating your own life instead of just letting it happen to you. Great work!

  • Reply
    MK
    December 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I’ve really struggled this year when I see people quickly starting something I have been trying to build for a long time, and I could not agree more with your “Patience” portion. I’ve been biding my time and finally decided to jump. I am so glad I’ve allowed patience to rule my timing, not my envy of those who came before me.

    I’m excited to see where 2018 takes us all. Wishing you only the best and a very Merry Christmas, girlfriend!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      December 29, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Congrats on the jump, MK! Rooting for you. Happy New Year!

  • Reply
    Domonique
    December 27, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    Hey Erin! I just wanted to say thank you for this! And for all your posts really. I completed my Master’s in August in a field that doesn’t quite light me up inside like it used to and have been feeling very lost since then. Whenever I get into really stressed out moods about what I should be doing and where my path should be taking me I always find myself on your website and it always makes me feel better. Thank you for being so inspiring and always having the words!
    Have a great New Year!
    Dom

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      December 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Thank you Dom! First, that is badass that you completed your Master’s! Second… it’s so hard to remember that we can always change our minds. Always. But the only person who can grant you that permission is yourself. Though you might not feel lit up by this particular field anymore, I guarantee that this part of your story DOES matter, so you cannot label it a mistake, even when you are feeling stressed!

      Feeling lost is a part of life. This isn’t the last time you’ll feel it, and probably not the first either! Take some of the pressure off and experiment with what feels like your highest excitement right now. The process of figuring it out can be fun, but we’re the only ones who can decide to see it that way.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

      xo

  • Reply
    Renee Gorman
    December 29, 2017 at 11:04 am

    Erin, I love your Deep Thoughts. I think they are a great way not only to recap a year but to learn about yourself and see how you are changing and growing. I love your section on mentorships. And I agree, I love my mentor and enjoy the opportunity to share and talk with her. It is isn’t competitions, but a chance to grow with one another and help each other. I am excited about her ventures, and she is helping with my future.

  • Reply
    Robert
    January 1, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I just ran across your posts in 2015. I wondered if you were still at it and scrolled around and read your recent posts.
    I was surprised about the God comments. I think everything has a weird purpose to it too. I see it all the time but just have a hard time seeing where I am in it all. I’m stuck in a PTSD program and daydream about travelling around. The problem is I’m stuck on negative. I’ve done alot in my life but this seems the hardest. Can’t find the spark. Ain’t afraid of much before but something has me down this darkened path. Don’t know why I’m writing. I do like the vibe of positive and glad you are still at it. Looking forward to you next insights!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      February 1, 2018 at 10:30 am

      Hi Robert! It is awesome that you picked up on that. My spirituality has shifted a lot since starting this blog–– spending time outdoors had a huge part to play and I am grateful for my relationship with nature. Thanks for sharing about your path, your awareness is great and I hope things are improving for you!

  • Reply
    Jamie
    January 6, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Great post Erin! Your words always resonate so deeply with me. Thank you for sharing your life lessons and thoughts so we can all learn from and with you ☺️ I especially needed to hear the bit about patience! You’ve been a huge source of inspiration for me this year, and a great reminder to find my own truth.

    I wrote a post on my thoughts from 2017 as well if you’re interested in reading 🙂 I’m a new blogger, hence needing to be patient with myself!
    https://www.granoladiaries.com/reflect/

    Cheers!

    • Erin Sullivan
      Reply
      Erin Sullivan
      February 1, 2018 at 10:32 am

      Thank you Jamie! And thanks for sharing your post 🙂

  • Reply
    Kurt
    January 31, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Thank you for your words and encouragement. I’ve felt many similar things this past year – especially about learning to let go of the expectations of others and learning to envision my own path.

    God bless!

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