5 Things I Let Go Of That Changed My Life

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I love the New Year. I love looking back on where we were a year ago and how far we’ve come since, and I love seeing how much we’ve grown and accomplished. This year is no different. We’ve set our goals, we’ve made our peace with the most wonderful time of the year being over for another year, and we’ve welcomed the New Year with excitement. We have big plans for 2018, and we’re excited.

But we’re also excited about what’s changed in the past year. One of my favorite things to do is look back and take note of some of the positive changes that occurred during the year, and most of the time those changes go along with giving something up. 2017 was a year for the books, and it’s been eye-opening seeing how many things we gave up/changed/altered about our lives in the past year that have made life a lot sweeter.

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  1. Excessive Drinking

We have always been social drinkers, but 2017 was a bit eye-opening for us in terms of just how much we were really consuming. There wasn’t any specific instance or time when we thought we needed to tone it down a bit, but we did. I think it was a culmination of different things. It was a lack of energy, a desire to be more present and feel better, and it was the stage the twins were in.

They turned 3 last year, and they became so much easier. We began taking them more places with us and really enjoying our time with them, but that comes with being that much more exhausted at the end of the day. There came a point when we took the kids to Disney one Saturday night, came home, went to bed, and woke up feeling energized and amazing. Not drinking on Saturday meant waking up Sunday filled with energy – and really good moods.

That feeling was addicting. It wasn’t long before we were going weeks without a drink. During the Fourth of July, I drank sparkling water in my Yeti all night – and I woke up the next day feeling amazing. I loved it. We both loved it. We definitely still drink – there’s no stopping us from ordering a bottle of wine with dinner and enjoying a glass of red each night or drinking when we have a party or attend one. But it’s changed – a lot. It’s one or two drinks instead of 5 or 6. Sometimes it’s just water in the Yeti and no drinks.

We didn’t set out to make this change, but it just naturally occurred. The benefits have been being more energized, healthier, more present, in a better mood, not nearly as tired, and waking up every morning feeling really good has been a plus. It’s also allowed us to be better role models for our kids, and that’s a really good feeling.

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  1. Letting the Little Things Get to Us

Okay….so….it turns out I’m a little bit of a control freak. A lot neat freak. A major “my way or the highway,” kind of gal. But sometime during the year I managed to stop letting the little things get to me. Let’s not panic, though. I’m still a neat freak. I still can’t leave the house unless it’s perfectly clean or go to bed without it being perfectly clean, or allow anything unused to spend even a second out of place during the day. But…I made great strides letting the little things go.

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  1. Responding Immediately

I wear an Apple watch, so I get all my messages and my alerts and my calls immediately. I don’t miss a text because my phone is on vibrate on the counter or a call because I can’t hear the phone over the kids. I get everything immediately, and I always felt this overwhelming need to respond the second I got a message or text.

I’m getting better about not doing that. Not that there is anything wrong with being a quick responder – I like that about people. But it was to the point I was interrupting myself, my work, my thought processes to respond to messages in the middle of completing a deadline, and it was slowing me down and making me more productive. I still see the message – though sometimes I don’t read it if I’m really into what I’m doing and don’t want to take a chance of disrupting the flow. I just respond later if I’m super busy, and it’s made it so much easier for me to finish what I started.

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  1. Letting Go of Guilt

You know, I still feel a little guilty when I’m away from the kids or when I’m out having fun with my girlfriends while Craig is home with the babies, but I let a lot of that go over the course of 2017. Craig and I spend every minute of every day caring for our four kids, my business, his career, and our home. We don’t want to feel guilty when we take off for a weekend in New York twice a few times a year or dating regularly. We want to enjoy the moment and really stop feeling guilty about being away, about asking our parents to babysit, about the kids missing us…our marriage needs our focus and attention, and we realized that we can’t feel guilty about that.

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  1. Fear of Going Outside my Comfort Zone

I spent the past decade building my business, acquiring a long list of amazing clients, and working hard to earn my reputation in this industry, and I’m very proud of that. I’ve had some amazing opportunities, but I’ve missed out on just as many because I’m very comfortable in my comfort zone and not an inch outside of it.

When I had the opportunity to attend an event in South Florida in January last year, I decided I was not going to let my fear of attending events alone without knowing anyone bother me. I booked a flight before I could talk myself out of it, and I went. I struggled, of course. I hate being in situations where I don’t know people and everyone else already has a friend or a group with them, but I stuck my hand out, smiled, and said, “Hi, I’m Tiffany. What’s you’re name?” and went from there. I made a few new business connections, networked, and really stepped outside my zone of comfort.

And you know what? I hated every second of it, but I was super grateful I did it. I spent my flight home taking notes, making lists, and reveling in the fact I did something that makes me so uncomfortable and made it through. I had no regrets, and decided at that point I was going to push myself to get outside my comfort zone so I could build my personal brand and blog in addition to my professional business. It was liberating, and it’s the thing I’m most proud of letting go.

The New Year is all about embracing new goals and making positive changes in your life, but it’s also about reflecting on what you’ve learned, how much you’ve evolved, and how you can continue to grow in the new year. Looking back on my year in 2017 and getting to see just how much I grew and how much I changed has been amazing. I’m proud of myself, and I’m proud of how I continue to change, grow, learn, and evolve. I feel like I matured a bit in 2017, and I like that (but don’t worry…I don’t plan on maturing too much or ever growing up. I hear it’s a trap, anyway!).

How have you changed in the past year? Where were you a year ago, how were you feeling, and what changed in your life and about you over the course of 2017?

#BackToBasics in 2018 (And Happy New Year!)

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Happy 2018!

It’s time to get #backtobasics in life.

I’ve already shared how 2017 was such a phenomenal year of growth for us prioritizing our family, being more intentional with our time, and slowing down a bit to enjoy the little things. 2017 was a sweet, sweet year for our family. It’s hard to top, but we say that every year (except 2010…that was a terrible year filled with loss and low points from two miscarriages – and we were done. Ready. Over it. You’ve never seen two people so excited to say farewell to a year as we were that year!) but we work hard to make our years count.

We’ve made goals, conquered goals, and moved so far beyond goals it’s amazing. We had a 10-year plan when we were first pregnant with our first daughter 10 years ago. We had this vision of where we wanted to be in our careers and in our lives a decade later, and we took that plan, smashed it into a million pieces and exceeded it before we hit the 5-year mark at that point. We made new goals and we conquered those.

It’s been sweet. We work so hard, we prioritize what’s important to us, and we make it happen. I’m proud of us. But we’ve also let excess and abundance become a little too much in the past few years – which we know we are fortunate to have – but we sometimes forget the simple things.

And that all came to light a little more than a week ago during date night with some of our favorites. In fact, I’m going to credit my brother from another mother, Geremy Crouch, for his brilliant insight on this one. It was a simple comment about how we still can’t believe that after almost 10 years we are still celebrating our Wednesday night dinner tradition. We sometimes have to cancel and sometimes life gets in the way, but we manage to celebrate Wednesday nights 90% of the time with our families.

And that led to Geremy’s #backtobasics. 10 years ago I was pregnant and there was no baby in the picture. Then it was one baby and one pregnancy. Then it was two babies for so long. Now it’s 7 babies, four major career changes and serious life changes that have been so amazing. It hit all of us at that table that you’ve probably never seen a group of people come so far as we did 10 years ago – but something is missing.

The basics. 10 years ago life was just as sweet in a simpler way. It was less scheduled and frenzied, yet we still managed to spend every weekend having the best time. But it was unstructured. Our calendars weren’t booked months in advance, we weren’t obligated to things every time we turned around. It was fun because it was what we wanted to do in the moment versus what we were expected to do, scheduled to do, on the calendar.

The basics were good. And this is the year we are getting back to that. Less is going on the calendar, and the Raiford family is getting back to the basics. Lazy nights at home with a spur of the moment BBQ. More fun in the moment. We have so much fun, but sometimes it’s less fun when everything is scheduled so far in advance. The most fun is the fun you don’t see coming.

This weekend, for example, we were working hard on a big project (more to come…) when our friends text and said (and I’m paraphrasing here), “We’re coming over and three and bringing dinner and hanging out,” and it was fun. Simple fun. That’s the kind of stuff we miss, because we never have time anymore with all that we have scheduled. Which, of course, is hard with four kids and their schedules, our schedules, and our travels.

But this year, it’s back to basics.

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  1. We’re setting hours

There’s something that has become a big problem over the years; and it’s easy to see why. For one, we let it. We want to help, and we want to accommodate people, and we’ve been very, very bad about telling people we can’t do it because we’re working. People assume working from home means we have all the free time in the world and we can stop what we are doing to chat when they want to stop by during the work day or whatever. It’s exactly like us asking you to take time off work to help us with our errands or to entertain us when we are off and want to hang out.

Craig works for someone else and has hours. I work for myself, but every time I’m volunteered for something or someone asks me to do them a favor or they just show up during the workday, that’s time I have to spend making up when I should be enjoying dinner with my family, helping put the kids to bed, or even sleeping. I have to make it up, and nothing is as frustrating as being up late at night catching up on work I couldn’t do because of interruptions. We love and want to be there for the people we love, but we simply can’t do it at the expense of our own peace or our own work.

We are also setting better hours for ourselves. We both love what we do – a lot – and that means we can’t really put it down. We are workaholics, and we aren’t ashamed of that…but we do know we need to stop, put it down, and disconnect a little better so we don’t wear ourselves out or lose too much of our time with our family.

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  1. We’re disconnecting

My phone is set to “Do Not Disturb,” from 8 pm to 7 am, yet I constantly check my phone when it’s in that mode. I take calls, respond to texts, social media…whatever. It’s a time suck. This year, that disconnect is happening. We’ve both agreed it’s time for us to put down our phones and focus more intentionally on one another. The kids are in bed, and we’d rather spend that time with one another without interruption.

So…if you need us after 8 pm, sorry! (If it’s an emergency, we do set our phones to ring out loud if it’s a repeated call).

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  1. We’re being more intentional

We just want to be more intentional, more present, more focused on what’s good and important in life. We want to be in the moment, and we want to enjoy it. And we’re going to practice. More patient, kinder, more in the moment. It’s what’s up this year.

  1. We’re being more positive

I like to think we are positive people, but I think there’s room for more. We take a lot for granted, and we can get a little caught up in our first world problems and make them bigger than they are. I mean, is it really such a big deal if I paid for overnight shipping and my package doesn’t arrive for over a week?

Yes, yes it is a big deal, and yes I’m going to make sure everyone knows how unhappy I am – but that’s my point. I have a hot temper, and I can let things like that really suck the positivity out of entirely too much of my time. This year, I vow to be more patient, more positive, and less reactive.

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  1. We’re enjoying the simple life

We love nice things, and we love traveling, and we love adventure, and we love a lot of things. We work hard, we play hard, and we surround ourselves with the things we want. And we’re not ashamed of that, but we also love life a lot – we love one another, we love our kids, and we love our people. And this year, we’re going to get back to the simple life of enjoying the love we have in our lives first and foremost.

We’re playing more. We’re traveling more. We’re dating more. We are very fortunate to have great parents who make it possible for us to plan date nights every other week and to plan weekends away 5 or 6 times a year. But this year, we’re dating more in between those things.

We are making it a point to take a night every week where we just make dinner for the kids, get them to bed at their bedtime, and then we’re going to get back into the kitchen and cook together for ourselves, sit on the deck and enjoy dinner and a great bottle of wine, and just enjoy our home and the simple life.

  1. We’re going to grow

The thing about goals is that once you achieve them, you want more. We’ve done that, and we have new goals, new things to achieve, and new expansions to make. So, this year we grow. We do that. We make it happen, and we learn every step of the way.

To grow, we are going to live more in the moment. Say no to what doesn’t work in the moment, yes to what does, and grow by learning to make decisions based on our wants and needs rather than the rest of the world.

  1. We’re going to focus more on our faith

Our faith is important to us, but I will admit we are quick to put it on the backburner when we have too much going on. Not this year. This year we are making it our priority again. We aren’t allowing ourselves to take it for granted just because we are too comfortable where we are. Amen.

2017 was amazing, and 2018 is off to a pretty sweet start. We spent the New Year at home with a gorgeous bottle of wine, some amazing filets, and a killer dinner. The kids went to bed, we relaxed, and we fell asleep around 10:30. We woke up at 8 am with the kids to a cold and rainy day (and a minor panic attack because our deck makeover was meant to be finished today but the rain is putting a major damper on that and I don’t like being off schedule and off kilter or living with things undone…but it’s a good lesson in patience, right?).

Happy New Year, friends! I hope you’re able to open your minds to allow this year to be everything you’ve dreamed it will be