9 lessons I learned in 2019

Aksena Krykun
11 min readJan 27, 2020


Dear 2019, you were super awesome. Amazing, cool and it-will-be-hard-to-excel-you year. Thanks. That was a great pit-stop with no big life moves but you were adventurous at the same time. I want to reflect as each year is a way to learn and make the next one even better.

I know that January almost ended but here are several lessons I want to share which might be useful to you too. Lessons for 2018 are here.

Lesson 1. Count your money

I I want to start from this point as, for me, it became one of the most crucial things as money is a result of your work, the price for your energy, time, and brainpower. By not counting the money you are wasting all the above mentioned.

Probably it is just a stupid point but not that stupid as I saw how many my friends and I personally do not count the money. If you don’t have accounting — you will not know where you lose.

It will be super hard for you if you are not that much into detail and in control. And if you don’t analyze something — you miss the opportunities. I was not super good at analysis this year, but I did better than the previous one. For me, money equals time, and when you start analyzing where you spend your money (aka time), you will see that you can spend it more rational.

How to track finance?

  1. You can use just an Excel spreadsheet. A noob version can be tracking what you spent. Usually, it takes time, and you will not be able to track each and every transaction, and you will ballpark. Not bad if to start. For a pro version, you can forecast your budget and plan expenses. Concerning the cost planning — I am not a pro, but I know that you should deposit at least 10 percent of your money. And if you don’t have significant sums of money — invest in yourself — learn, travel and get new experiences, be healthy — everything pays off (sometimes not that linear as you may think) — better mood means new people around or attractive projects which in the end change the quality of your life.
  2. Pro version: track everything in special programs. CoinKeeper and others — I heard those are working. I am only on my track. Right now, I am using Monobank (a Revolut-like version of online-banking in Ukraine). Right now, I am in the process of testing the “spreadsheet” system created by my friend — both for my life goals and finance tracking.

Also, another thing is that you need to work on your budget — which part do you spend, invest, and leave in cash? This is also about accounting, but remember, if you are living for the “zero-sum” — then it is not probably sustainable. I made some investments this year and plan to do more (and learn more about the finances) in the forthcoming.

That’s why, dear readers, I need you here:

  • Where do you invest?
  • How do you track your personal finance?

Lesson 2. Explore your limits.

Don`t understand me wrong — here I don`t recommend you to explore ALL the limits if you know what I mean, but those who are super crucial to you and your life. For example, for me, it was my workload and sport.

Why I wanted to explore my limits? Because I did not have those. I took on a lot: work, personal projects, entertainment, and then new people. Still, the reality is that time is a limited resource and energy as well. As a result, from time to time, I found myself lying on a bed with no ability to move. Literally. As it turned out, I had problems with blood pressure, which could have been omitted should I have talked to the doctor earlier. If you are such a productivity geek (however, I am not super crazy about it yet) as I am and you calculate your personal ROI from every hour you live (yes, I said I am a geek, and I don`t like “idle time”) — you will understand that month of hard work. Then 2 days of immobility is not very rational.

So I tried several experiments with:

  • workload
  • health
  • personal projects — both quantity and time effort

Now I know what enough and too much for me is. As a byproduct of those experiments, I also stretched a bit my limits and got out of the comfort zone. And now I know that yes, I can. If I want.

Lesson 3. Agree to adventures

I genuinely believe that the comfort zone is boring. For me. No offense. Also, I understood that for the last year, I was barely in the comfort zone. It is stressful, and in 2020 I plan to add more routine to my life; however, getting out of the comfort zone means learning.

Adventures (my friend will correct me here and definitely tell me, “Oksana, challenges!”) is the best way to grow. An experience from taking on more responsibility at work to go to another city with the person you barely know or to make a solo trip to another country. I love this approach as you get to know yourself better.

Also, my friends gave me a B-day present — a half-marathon slot in Amsterdam. OMG, I thought at that period, this is an adventure, a huge one (a marathon was 3 months away from my B-day present), but finally, I did it. And you will. Just agree to your next adventure!

Lesson 4. Make your dreams come true

Ok, this is the hard part. Because, when I was a girl, I was taught that a prince with a white horse will come and will do everything, and we will live happily after that. But as life shows, sometimes a princess should become a dragon and make her own dreams come true. Moreover, I understood that a “princess tale” is about avoiding responsibility for my own life. So, the morale for me — I should care about my dreams on my own. If there will be a person who has the same desires as I do — fantastic! We will realize those together! But if there will not be the one — no problem, big girl in a big world — will have to hustle more. Not the first time — not the last time.

But remember — you are the only one who is responsible for creating the best moments in your life. If your dreams don`t come true, check yourself for several questions:

  • Do you do something to make your dreams come true? Or are you sitting on your butts waiting for the right moment to come?
  • Are you dreaming at all?

Lesson 5. Learn something new. All the time

Remember, I told you I tried my limits? And it was really stressful at some points in time as my work, sport and everything else collided in a 14-hour-awake day. Moreover, I thought that courses on yachting are the thing I need the most in this year (I am a bit adventuristic and love new staff). However, I was not burned out (surprisingly), and the secret was in HBR on Learning issue for December. The thing is that if you want to overcome stress — you need to learn something new. This helps you to switch your attention, grasp new behaviors, and improve your neurons to build new connections, which, in the end, prevents stress. Amazing?

This year I was learning:

  • yachting
  • french
  • tennis
  • some more professional and personal staff

The bottom line? If you have stress — start learning something new!

Also, if you don`t have stress (which is also great) — learn something new to form new behaviors (aka in tennis I learned that you give up in your mind before the play, and tennis helps me to have a “winner” attitude even in life citations). By the way, if you don`t know what to learn — learn how to play tennis — this is one of the best sports in the world!

Lesson 6. Learn yourself before (any) relationships

Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

Almost everything I mentioned above is about learning about yourself. I turned 30 this year. One of the most valuable things I understood in my 30-th is that you cannot love others or be happy in any relationship (especially with yourself) if you don’t know who you are. There are millions of people around us living the lives they copy. When you don’t know who you are and where you move, you will live others` people lives and achieve others` people’s goals. I added some drama? Yes, I did! The work to understand ourselves is one of the hardest because I promise you will explore a lot of sh*t:

  • your stereotypes
  • your negative sides and could-have-been-changed situations
  • your inner devils
  • you’re not knowing of the principles

To know yourself, you need to be brave like Columbus when he started his through-ocean way to discover the USA. And USA is you. As I experience it — this is a long-long road with lots of turns and pitfalls but it worse it. As somebody to guide you if you need, otherwise, “thinking days” — during the weekends, in the evenings — will help you to understand who you are. I will not stop here more, but the morale — you need to start from yourself to build the relationships and be (sorry for this Ayurvedic staff in advance) in harmony with yourself. I am still learning if you were to ask.

Lesson 7. Love yourself

Love to yourself sounds more comfortable than it is. You can be kind to lots of people but blame yourself for every wrong moment in your life.

We need to build a relationship with the person we are 24/7 — it is ourselves. Understanding that you have bad and good traits and accepting those is a path to a good living without lots of stressful moments and blaming (I read it is some cool book but tested on my own).

My way of starting loving myself (and believe me I did some things where I did hate myself aka non-exercising, blaming for guilty pleasures, smoking, etc.) was in several steps:

  1. Understanding my good and bad traits
  2. Accepting and analyzing how I will fix my bad habits (sometimes knowing that there is a problem is 50% of fixing this problem).
  3. Celebrating my right sides (it was even harder than to find the bad traits)))
  4. Accepting it.

Lesson 8. Take the rejection as a gift

You will be rejected lots of times in your life. I was. By people whom I thought I like a lot. And you know what? At first, it hurts a lot, I am so cool how could they? But then I understood — if the person is not interested in me — that`s awesome! We will not waste each other time. Really. And I can re-focus on others and exciting projects.

It does not mean that if rejected, your 100% case strategy should be to abandon this person, but in most cases, think about the situation — why this person is not interested in you? Probably you should change? Perhaps it is not working at all? There are 7 bln people in the world and definitely (and statistically you will meet someone you will admire, and it will be mutually. And here I am not talking only about romantic relationships but also about career, friendship etc..

Lesson 9. Learn how to manage your energy

If there was only one recommendation I can give you from my 2019, the only one thought it would be: LEARN HOW TO MANAGE YOUR ENERGY as we are all energy managers. Energy is our resource. There are several types of research that the best leaders are high-energy people. Here you can read more about it.

Time is limited, energy is not.

I think I won the DNA lottery at least on the energetical level — it is probably higher than the average. This allows me to do lots of things in one day and be happy, however, as I said before, I have some terrible days. I can even cry — running low of energy. I think in the future people will not compete on skills, they will compete on the ability to have more energy, and right now I am learning how to save my power bank with the highest capacity I can.

Concerning the “personal energy” issues, we have several aspects:

  1. Physical energy. It is about the right food: both for body and brains, the right amount of sleep and of course exercising. I saw the super positive correlation between physical exercises and brain activity. I did some experiments (however, not as That Sugar author, but still), and I understand that the “body issue” is more important than you can think.
  2. The emotional quality of energy. “When people can take more control of their emotions, they can improve the quality of their energy, regardless of the external pressures they’re facing.” says this HBR article. Knowing your emotions is the first step to the emotional quality of energy. In a stressful environment, you are running low of it, and you need to spend your time in a quality manner. For me, good quality of emotions means awesome people and in-depth talks, new experiences, and challenges, being happy for others (yes, I am). What is it for you?
  3. The mind. Multitasking is bad. This is my super lousy trait. What I learn now is to work in “flow” and “in bulks” — to organize similar tasks in one period of time. It is almost impossible with my work, but I am learning!
  4. The energy of meaning and purpose. To me, this refers a lot of knowing who you are, where you go. I am still learning, but Clayton Christensen`s book “How will you measure your life” helped me a lot (and I re-read it once in two years now). It will probably help you too.

I genuinely believe now that learning how to manage your energy is one of our primary skills as a human being because, without power, we cannot drive far or fast or both.

This is all. I learned a lot of other lessons which I don`t want or cannot share, but the thing is that I don`t want you to make my mistakes. Hope this helps. Happy new 2020 year, dudes even if it is already a month from the start — you have another 11 awesome months to proceed!

Thanks a million for reading this piece! Hope this piece of advice helps. Let me know if you have similar thoughts/learnings!

If you want to read some motivational stuff from me — here you go:

  1. Yes, you can!
  2. 8 lessons I learned in 2018



Aksena Krykun

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