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Top 10 Juicy Lessons Learned of 2023

I want to highlight the top ten things happening this year that helped me grow personally, socially, and professionally. What a great opportunity to review my year and share my lessons with you. Hi-five✋ if you experienced the same thing. Otherwise, enjoy the read.

#1: Got the Green Card!

I’m grateful to officially announce the US as my second home! I came from Thailand with hopes, dreams, and dedication to living here. I was glad I was transparent about my intention with my date, now husband, since the first time we discussed our relationship goals. It’s a tricky time but both of us shared love and trust, and it has worked out well so far. We have had so much to give in this relationship and our intention has been genuine. I’m so happy to live here and to get to contribute to the country that gives me countless opportunities.

#2: Reconnected with my best friend more.

I realized how much I missed those teenage years with my girlfriends during high school. One of my best friends from high school lives in Florida and we spent time together on a girl-only weekend trip. We tried great food and drinks and had endless chats about our lives, changes we encountered, marriage, career challenges, high school memories, and all that stuff. It feels so good to have your best friend sharing some of the same experiences when you live in the same country thousands of miles away from home.

#3: Visited Thailand with Andrew.

This is the first time I brought a guy home to my parents. This was also the first time Andrew and I traveled abroad together. We got to learn so much more about one another, especially, how differently we approach problems and resolve them. It’s not easy but necessary for our growth as a couple. Andrew had a better understanding of my family dynamic, culture, tradition, and childhood. We had so much Thai food and drinks like there’s no tomorrow. We survived the mosquitoes and the heat.

#4: Witnessed life-changing money in my family.

How scary does it sound if you’re a senior citizen in a third-world country, working hard all your life, but barely having any savings for your retirement? That’s the case for my parents. I grew up in a middle-class family. We didn’t have much money but my parents always made sure we had enough to thrive. During the last decades (especially during COVID-19), it’s been more difficult for them to make money running a farm and a restaurant since the business depends so much on tourism.

We were so lucky to have an inherited piece of land we could sell even though it took forever to find a legit buyer. It made life-changing money like winning a lottery. I was so happy for my parents and all my aunts. Now my parents saved the money for retirement, bought a property and rented it out, and used it for much-needed home improvement. All luck aside, I learned how crucial it is to have solid personal finance planned out till the day I die. What are the odds that kind of luck would come to me?

#5: Joined the WordCamp US (WCUS 2023) event in Maryland.

I usually avoid attending a networking event at all costs. It’s intimidating and reminds me how hard socializing is for me. But this time, I stretched myself to do what I feared by convincing myself that others were equally insecure. I also wanted to be in an environment full of people who make a living using the same tools as I do. The event was inspiring and eye-opening. It made me realize how impactful WordPress is for many industries worldwide. I managed to swallow my over-self-consciousness and be the first one who said hi; I ended up making a few good friends.

#6: Ran consistently throughout the year

…and was grateful for how it improved me physically and mentally. This year, I ran 8.7 miles per week on average. The total distance throughout the year, as of December 29, is 451 miles, based on my running app. I even took on a challenging mission: joining a half marathon for the first time, although I had only two weeks to train. I finished it in 3.18 hours and could barely walk after. I’m so happy to have maintained this habit this long, speaking from someone more used to running in a tropical climate all my life, and took years to overcome the runner’s itch. Now I have learned to adjust to running in the rain and cold of the Pacific Northwest. I’m excited to continue running next year and beyond and will include more weight training to keep my muscles sane.

#7: Journaled consistently throughout the year.

Journaling reminded me how much I had lived my life on autopilot and never took time to reflect on what happened and what I learned each day. I had been busy and yet feeling empty at the same time. Once I developed the journaling habit, I observed myself better. I understood more about how I spent time each day, whether each task was meaningful, and what area of life needed improvement. Writing daily without judgment helps me commit to writing newsletters to you. I developed a better writing flow and became less overthinking.  

#8: Secured three retainer clients for my web support service

…and was thankful to my clients and industry friends for the generous referrals. I try my best to deliver what’s promised. Providing web support for clients teaches me how valuable it is to have a predictable and consistent income every month. At the same time, it reminds me that the nature of web support service is nonstop. Websites run 24/7 and don’t take vacation. Therefore, it’s on me to manage time well and have clear communication with my clients and my family especially during vacations.

#9: Took on the biggest and toughest web development project of the year.

This will also be carried over to the next year. I am a subcontractor working with an agency to create a new website for a climate-pledge nonprofit. This project requires me to understand a new web platform and a new programming language. Oftentimes, I doubted myself if I would be able to pull it off all the way. Although it’s difficult to believe in myself when sitting in a Zoom meeting full of native English speakers while struggling to explain to them technical limitations, I have delivered the work and reached their expectations so far. I’m proud to take on this challenging project because it pushes me to grow and expand my knowledge drastically.

#10: One year into running my website business.

Working with multiple clients on multiple projects teaches me the value of systemizing the workflow and managing expectations. The whole solopreneurship also makes me realize how difficult it is to run a business all by myself wearing all the hats. Besides improving the technical skills needed to serve my clients’ websites, I learned business management and marketing to sustain and grow my business. The most difficult skills to hone are digital marketing and content creation. The big fat truth is the business will not grow more than how you envision it to be and it’s ready to come crashing down any minute when you don’t have a good enough system to support it. Being a business owner is so fragile and yet fulfilling in the sense that you have total freedom to create and direct. The funny thing is freedom could be the most difficult thing to navigate as well.

What lesson speaks to you most? Tell me your story!

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