8 lessons I learned in 2018

Aksena Krykun
12 min readJan 1, 2019


Disclaimer: the new year of 2019 came, and everyone wants to share what happened to them in 2018. This is awesome, but lots of this is super private (to me, for example), that is why I don`t want to share here what happened to me in 2018, but probably what I learned in 2018 and what can help you not to make my mistakes or to excel more in 2019. Everything below is my humble opinion which might now align with your life challenges, beliefs, and other stuff. It is ok) So, here we go.

1. Set goals, but don`t punish yourself if you did not reach them

by Matt Ragland | Unsplash

So I wanna start from "set goals" part. I am a true believer that we need to set goals. In 2018 I spent almost 2 days to think what I want to achieve and where I want to be. And right now, sitting in my 1-st of January 2019 I will also set my goals in bullet journal.

A quick guide for goal-setting (my experience + experience from the people who made it):

  • write your goals: bullet journal, ordinary journal, ever note, one note, colored sheet of paper — you choose.
  • state goals in the categories ( don`t think that your life is only about work or family or travel): I usually use the categories aka: work, own projects, personal development, shape and beauty, health, family and friends. This year I will also add "emotions" because this is the hardest part for me now.
  • when you set goals try to make them as vivid as possible: if you want to travel to Sri Lanka for the surfing school — then set the period of the year, set the company etc.
  • describe all the possible risks why this goal might now be achieved and think how you will act towards these risks. Usually, this helps you to be prepared when the risk occurs.
  • don`t punish yourself if you will not reach the goals because if you are that demanding person as I am you have all the reasons to be teared up in the depression of the high expectations from yourself. You need to learn and act in the new year, not to cry from the sadness. Also, if you are super high demanding one — read "Mindset" book by Carol Dweck (or watch her TEDx talk) and check up if you are in a growth or stable mindset. This helps a lot at least to think that you are ok or to identify the problem and turn yourself into the growth mindset.
  • for everything else — read SMART goal-setting technique.

NB-1! I highly recommend you before setting yearly goals to have the roadmap of your life — this means you need to know where you are moving, otherwise, you might set the goals which can lead you in the wrong direction (I mean big, meaningful ones).

NB-2! When you are setting goals — think of your year as a basket with a specific volume which you need to fill in with 3 main sets:

  • super big rocks (usually 3–5) — those are BHAGs — big audacious hairy goals for 2019
  • medium goals (7–10) — in different spheres of life
  • easy-to-achieve goals (the rest of your "bucket" by your feelings.

NB-3! You should write your goals. If you just think of them — it will not work.

2. Don`t listen to anyone except people who are where you want to be or who inspire you

by Cristina Gottardi | Unsplash

People love giving recommendations, opinions, and other staff. This is because they want to sound bright, smart and self-confident. If you are the one, who doesn`t give a f*ck — it is ok. It is easy for you to live on Earth. If you are an average person as I am — then sometimes it can hurt you a lot, stick in your mind and poison your everyday life. Think of the most vivid moment in 2018 when somebody told you some opinion about yourself, and it was negative. Remember? Why do you remember? Think about how that phrase made you feel? Bad, yeah?

I love the phrase that “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” I will not dive deeper into this phrase except the last part — there are so many people we don`t like, we don`t want to work with, and we don`t even know, but their opinion matters a lot to us. Weird.

My general advice — they don`t have any relationship to your life, but if they also do — don`t give a f*ck about their opinion except one case — these people are the ones you admire, or they live the life you want to live, or they have the traits you want to have. In this case, listen with the open eyes, find a mentor who will help you to get where you are. I don`t have a mentor btw, though I want to have several ones. But I read a lot of books — kind of mentorship experience.

3. Take on more, but be careful not to burn out

by Leon Contreras | Unsplash

When I was at school and at university, even when I was working early in my career — I always had side projects. Lots of people around told me “Oksana, you should focus a lot — otherwise, you will not be successful in life.” The thing is at that time I gave a f*ck to others peoples opinions because I thought that “they know” and I tried to focus — on one thing. To do it right. BUT
It did not work for me. And here is why.

I love working on different projects because I feel inspired and that I can grow in different spheres. Moreover, working on various projects gave me the competitive advantage in life which my “more focused” colleagues did not have: I can be more creative because I synthesize now knowledge from different spheres, I can use the knowledge from one sphere to excel in the other, I know how to write press — release, do the marketing plan, work with financials (though, I don`t like it a lot), organize the garage sale, auction, work in chemical library, etc. Moreover, different projects bring a lot of awesome people to our life and “impossible is nothing” attitude which, IMHO, super useful in adult life.

I am not telling you that if you don`t have a side project — you are a loser. Focus might work perfectly well for you. And a lot of my friends are super focused (usually their work is their hobby). However, I really advise you (if it works for you) to work on different projects which are added to your work. You will benefit a lot from it regarding happiness, satisfaction, meeting new people and other benefits.


Don`t overestimate your capabilities (the author of this post did it a lot): you can be burned out. Then you feel miserable, you cannot move, and you are diving into the depression. I started to learn my emotional limits only for the last 2 years. You should do so as well to live a happier life. IMHO.

ps: this year I plan to finally take on 2 side projects which I was planning for the last 3 years. It will change the society I live in and will bring me lots of happiness (I truly believe in it).

4. Don`t be a perfectionist. Better done than perfect

by Claudio Fonte | Unsplash

Let`s have a quick test? How many times in 2018 you were doing your work/project/product but you procrastinated the release of it because you were thinking “it is not perfect enough”? If at least once you had such an experience you are probably a perfectionist.

My condolences.

I totally understand you — I am the one, but now I have that “fail fast — learn fast” approach. It was not a short road but a road of mistakes, tears, nerves, a lot of books and the story about the “pot experiment.” Let me share it (I cannot find this one now, so please relate to the idea — not about the specific facts).

A professor in university loved experiments and divided the class into 2 groups. The first group had a task: to create the best-possible pot they can do for the whole semester. The second group had another task: to create as many pots as possible. Then professor judged the groups where was designed the best pot. Guess who won?

The moral of this story is: perfection sometimes is not good, and we can waste time working on it. Make it, release it, then re-make it, update it and you will come to the perfection.

When I am writing this, my inner perfectionist is crying. So let him cry)

5. Keep in shape. It is more serious than you think

by Rodolfo Sanches Carvalho | Unsplash

Your body is your asset, and lots of us underestimate it. Why am I talking about the body? Because this is your “pot.” If there is something wrong with your body — you feel bad. You cannot create. You cannot work effectively. You suck.

I am turning 30 this year, and I am now in the best shape for the previous 29 years. There were several 2018 goals related to this and for me, Ukrainian from the family where there were not the culture of constant health checks, we are junk food and other staff which is not good for the body — I did a long jump towards what I have now. Still not enough exercises, sometimes lousy food, but far better feeling than before.

My personal approach to the excellent shape is:

  • regular health checks (once in a year)
  • work with my teeth (I have brackets now so regular teeth checks are provided)))
  • regular exercises (for me a 1.5h workout once in 2–3 days is working good, also, will start swimming again from May) Btw, if you are traveling that much, then select some training perfectly tailored for you. Some online-sports training work for me best — I am taking elastic band and weighting for the legs, and I can do the exercises almost everywhere where I have 2*2 sq. m. space. You can do so too. It is easier than it seems
  • cosmetologist — a dedicated person who helps you to know better about your beauty
  • massages — not that often but I try to make it regular. The results are fantastic — better shape, better health, etc.
  • no junk food (I did not see McDonald`s for the last 6 months. Yes, I can!) — more healthy food. It is hard to change your eating habits, however, try to start buying more salad, more fish, less red meat, and you will see how your stomach will be happy. Also, I started cooking at home (this is super unusual for me) — because I wanted to eat good food, not processed one.

Still, I have a lot of space for improvement, and I am continually looking for the best healthy recipes.
For 2019 I plan to start running again, more cycling (decrease car usage) and hiking.

I am really interested what are your tips and tricks in staying in a good shape.

6. Get out of the comfort zone

by Heidi Sandstorm | Unsplash

I love the phrase: "nothing interesting happens inside your comfort zone". Totally agree. Moreover, you are not growing.

Getting out of the comfort zone for me means, for example, meeting new people from my sphere who are super cool (to my opinion), starting surfing (I dream about this a lot, I did it, but I was a bit scared), move to another company, to another country etc. Yes, this is scary, this is super unpleasant and your brain will tell you stomach to tell you "don`t do this!!!!". And you have a choice: to do or not to do this. Sometimes I select the latter, but the majority of times I try to select "to do" approach. I will not persuade you that this is right, but it works for me. As a result of this approach I am in the city I love — Lviv (probably I will move on soon, however, this will always be the city I love), on the super challenging and meaningful job I have (which helps me to lead a very challenging division in a company, grow others, develop services and help our clients grow), with awesome and inspiring people, having my own company for the speakers` preparation with my awesome co-founders. And I push myself more — because I know that I have not reached my comfort zone I want to stay in yet.

My 2018 was definitely 50% out of the comfort zone one.

7. Make your relationship grow. Otherwise, they can die or decline sharply

by Ryan Franco | Unsplash

Super hard part. At least for me. This year was super hard, and I learned several big lessons.

  • I am not that good at relationships, and I still need to learn a lot.
  • I am not the person I was in 2017. I learned a lot with the help of the mistakes I did. And every relationship teaches us and when makes it hurt, makes it understand ourselves better.
  • We need to say “sorry” more often. And really mean it. I am sorry.
  • When you love someone, you should tell and show them so (btw, in their own way because what "love" means to you might not mean "love" to your partner; read "5 languages of love" at least to understand how it works). Sometimes we are too obsessed with our feelings, but we should look at our partner and understand their feelings first. And don`t do quick conclusions.
  • Don`t lose the best people in your life. Closest, dearest people are like platinum — they are hard to be found. Keep them. Otherwise, you can understand how much you love them but it can be too late.
  • People change. In terms of stress and life-changing events, they do change habits, beliefs, and traits of their personality. Psychology also says about this.

Your relationships should grow. Day by day. This is like a product — they have a roadmap, timeline and at each step, you may have the KPIs (or this is a professional deformation and product manager now speaks). However, the idea is simple — you need to move on. Not to stop or make the reverse steps. And this is not only about the dating-marrying-having children timeline. This is more about the “going deeper”- “showing more support”- “loving more” idea. Or it can be adjusted to your life and partner.

8. Take a psychologist if you need

by Christian Palmer | Unsplash

This was one of the most exciting experiences in 2018. I think of myself as a super healthy and “know-what-Í-want” type of the person. But sometimes I have the “analysis-paralysis” when I try to analyze some things in my life and dive too deep almost that deep as to jump into depression. That is why I decided to work with help — a psychologist — to fall deeper into reasons and problems why I do what I do. Hopefully, for my case, the reason was only in the habits, and I need to change a pattern to fix the issues I have. Sometimes, we might need more in-depth assistance.

Here I need to give a side note. I know when you are in the USA, Canada or Europe — it is OK to go to a psychologist as it is the part of your psycho hygiene. However, In USSR countries and in Ukraine when you are going to the psychologist, this is like “you are a psycho?” label. Now this lousy perception is decreasing, and I know lots of bright people who have this type of assistance, and this really helps. I think I will work with this professional in 2019 because it simply makes me feel better. Probably it will work for you too.

2018 was hard, harmful but still amazing for me. I wish you the best-ever 2019 and then even better 2020 and the best 2020 — you got the pattern) We can make our years awesome — growth mindset, good goal setting and lessons learned — are our friends. Happy New 2019!

by Anton Darius | Unsplash



Aksena Krykun

Passionate about IT and startups. Books lover. Made in Ukraine.