What I learned at Blog Brulee (and why it matters to you)

Yeah, I know. Another post on Blog Brulee. I know my friends and family are sick of hearing me talk about it and I imagine if you follow any of the other 30 dietitians who attended, you might be sick of hearing about it too. But if you will, indulge me in sharing one more, because it's an important one. {Disclosure: My attendance at Blog Brulee was partially sponsored. I was not compensated to write this post}

As my plane took off (over a gorgeous sunset view of Lake Champlain no less), I realized just how much those three days had changed me. Not only in how I approach running my business and blog, but fundamentally who I am as a person. I felt inspired and confident. Suddenly, the blurry picture of where I'm going and how to get there was much clearer.

How could a simple blogging conference be so life-changing?

Sure, I learned about search engine optimization, DSLR settings and branding, all incredibly helpful and much needed lessons. But these weren't my key takeaways. When I looked back at the most important lessons, I realized it was what I learned outside of the seminars that had the most profound impact - life lessons applicable to bloggers and non-bloggers alike.

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED IS TOTALLY TERRIFYING, BUT KIND OF WORTH IT.

I learned this lesson before Blog Brulee even started! My mom and I spent a few days traveling before the event, and the plan was to drop me off at Smuggler's Notch after lunch in Burlington. Per usual, we decided to take the scenic route. With a 45 minute drive and 2 1/2 hours before events were set to start, we thought we had more than enough time. That is, before we hit traffic, road construction, and got stuck behind what must have been a ninety-year-old man in a beat down pickup truck...literally every possible thing that could slow us down.

I started to panic, imagining myself walking in late to a room full of judging eyes. Knowing there was nothing I could do, I forced myself to take deep breaths and enjoy the stunning scenery - mountains, wildflowers, and abandoned ivy covered old barns. I had my face pressed against the window like a small child as the road closed in around us while driving through "the notch." It took almost two hours, but sure enough, I made it with just enough time to meet my roommates and change clothes before walking with the whole group to our welcome dinner.
This theme was echoed again and again every time I spoke with a dietitian who had "made it." Listening to their story of how they go to where they are, I expected luck or some special skill or connection to be a deciding factor in their success. But that wasn't the case. Every person had the same story - a long journey with ups and downs (or traffic jams and slow trucks if you will). When they hit a bump, rather than turn around, they took a deep breath, kept truckin' and enjoyed the ride.
Saturday night, we had a small, roundtable discussion over dinner with Ann of fANNEtastic Food. She has been wildly successful with both her blog and DC-based private practice, so I was thrilled to learn from her. During dinner, someone asked her what was the single most important factor in her achievement.
Her response?
"Having a network of other bloggers I could reach out to for help."
So many people attempt to reach their goals without any outside help. Whether they want to lose weight, run a half marathon, or make a career change, they put all of the pressure and hark work on themselves. Sometimes it's because they don't want to be a burden, other times they simply overestimate their abilities. Me, I often fear if I share my goals with someone else, then they'll know if I end up a complete failure.

With all the clients I've worked with, I've found the people who are most successful reaching their health and weight goals are the ones who build a support system from the start. I'm now starting to realize that's true for most things in life. Whether your goal is to lose weight, run a half marathon or make a career change, you have the power to do it...but you can't do it alone.

DON’T COMPARE YOUR BEGINNING TO ANOTHER PERSON’S MIDDLE.

At Blog Brulee, there were dietitians at all different levels of success with their career and blog. Some were making just enough money to buy a couple cups of coffee with their blog. Others were earning pretty darn comfortable salaries as full time bloggers. Some were stuck in full or part-time jobs they didn’t necessarily love, working fervently to build up a client base in their private practice. Others were turning away clients they were too busy to work with.

So it would make sense to try and figure out what special skills the successful dietitians have so we could work on those skills ourselves, right? Were they smarter? Better communicators? Funnier? More charismatic? Did they have better hair? Nope. Every single person I met, no matter what level they were at in their career, was smart, funny, charismatic and possessed fantastic communication skills. And they all had lovely hair too.

I looked hard, but there was only one thing I could find that all the successful dietitians had in common.

They had been working at it longer.

It’s easy to look at another persons success, whether it’s athletic, weight loss or professional and feel envious. Sure, some people are better equipped for success than others, but in most cases, they’ve just spent more time working towards their goals. Remind yourself that another person’s success simply means your goals are possible.

JUST BLOOM

During one of our group discussions, Gretchen of Kumquat Blog shared a quote that impacted every single person in the room.
"The flower in the field doesn't compare itself to the flower next to it. It just blooms."
I honestly can't think of a more crippling, or more common, habit than comparing yourself from others. It's hard not to in a world where social media makes everyone else's high points so visible. If I were to believe the carefully crafted images portrayed on facebook, instagram, and the like, I might come to the conclusion that everyone I know is a wealthy, jet-setting, party animal who is constantly doing cool things like yoga and hiking and making pinterest projects that actually turn out like the picture, while I'm sitting at home checking facebook.

Of course, these aren't fair comparisons. Most people don't openly talk about their struggles, disappointments and failures. They don't take selfies while doing the dishes or mindlessly watching reality TV with a bag of chips on the couch. Your friends don't post about not getting that job or gaining five pounds.

When you compare the low points of your life to the high points of others, it's impossible to feel anything but inadequate, unaccomplished and just plain crappy. And when you feel inadequate, unaccomplished and crappy, it's pretty likely you'll lack the confidence needed to achieve your dreams.

In truth, there will always be someone with more, and always someone with less. But there is no one else on this planet who is the uniquely perfect individual that is YOU.

So just bloom.
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