10 Things I’ve learned in 2016


Photos by Tara

Karen Millen Sweater // Aritzia Leather Pants (Similar) // Zara Boots (Similar)
Celine Sunglasses (Similar) // Givenchy Bag

Ok so I know I might be jumping the gun a little here – I do know it’s still only November – but even with one month still to go, this year has already taught me A LOT. Some stuff I wish I never had to learn and some stuff I’m so glad I did finally learn…it’s been an interesting one.  This week is Thanksgiving here in New York and as I was thinking back to what I got up to this time last year, it really made me realise that so much has changed since then.

If you’ve already read my ‘Why I Quit My Job‘ post, you’ll know that this was the year I finally found a way (and a visa) to go full-time with my blog here in NYC, a year that put me through the dreaded apartment-search in New York and a year that just ‘toughened me up’ overall. Every year brings lessons, some good – some bad, and I wanted to share some of the main ones I’ve learned so far. I’m pretty sure nothing will be overly groundbreaking to you, but sometimes you just need some one to remind you of certain things and hopefully I can do that here today. It’s important to be grateful for each and every year that teaches you something new. Here are the 10 things I’ve learned in 2016…


1. You can’t get comfortable
We live in a world where there is always someone ready to take your place. At the exact point you think you are ‘doing well’, it’s time to make a change. Over the weekend, Casey Neistat announced he was ending his daily vlog series  (a really good watch) because it was holding him back from the next thing he’s determined to succeed at. The video was met with quite a lot of anger from loyal fans and although I, personally, will miss watching his vlogs (I watched every single day), I have even more respect for him after this announcement. It’s easy to get comfortable and cruise along when things are going good, but when what your heart’s not fully in something and you’re starting to lose interest, it’s time to move on. When things feel easy, it’s time to step it up.

2. Let yourself be bored
This lesson was actually just learned while I was at INBOUND in Boston a few weeks ago. One of the speakers made a really good point about letting yourself ‘be bored’ ever now and again. FYI, I hate the idea of being bored (I think it equates lazy) but I listened up and he actually made a lot of sense. If you’re like me and your phone is glued to your hand every minute of the day, it’s very hard not to get so sucked into other peoples lives and ideas that you start to almost forget about your own. So this past week, I’ve really been giving myself time to totally disconnect from social media and get back to focusing on my own ideas and goals. We all need to step away from distraction every now and again, allow ourselves to ‘be bored’ and therefore give ourselves a chance to think. Give it a go!

3. Don’t let success go to your head and don’t let failure go to your heart
Speaks for itself really. When you’re doing well, never forget that it could all take a turn in a single second and same goes for when you’re not doing so well. There’s always something around that corner.


4. Please be good to your skin
Oh did I learn a lesson or two about skin in 2016! Where do I even start? Up until about March of this year, besides the odd annoying spot, my skin never really gave me any issues. I took off my makeup every night, yes, but didn’t really have any solid or fancy skin care routine. I never thought I needed one. Fast forward to 2016 and my skin decided to make up for some lost time. I can’t be sure, but I think it was the increase in flights, bad eating habits, lack of working out and a schedule that didn’t leave too much time for sleep that resulted in breakout after breakout after breakout… breakouts that didn’t have any intention of going away. I’m pretty sure that I’ve spent more money on skincare this year than I have on anything else and although my skin is still far from perfect, it was the best investment I could have made. Lesson learned? LOOK AFTER YOUR SKIN before you think you need to. I can’t be sure but maybe if I’d had a better skincare routine over the past few years, this may have never happened. All I know now is that if looking after yourself is not your number one priority, then it needs to be. Out health is our wealth and if we’re not feeling good in our own skin, nothing else will work. I promise to do a more in-depth post on my new skin routine very soon and share the products which have been worth every single penny so far. Baby steps.

5. Action
Nothing worth having comes easy and nothing will come without action. It really is as simple as that. If you want something, you’re going to have to work for it. No excuses.

6. Don’t be a half-ass friend and don’t put up with half-ass friends.
If you find someone who is a seriously good friend to you, please don’t mess it up. Good friends are very hard to come by (the girls always laugh that my motto in life is ‘trust no bitch’ haha – very true story) so when you do find friends you can trust with all your heart, be the best possible friend right back to them. And then when you come across people that are doing a half-ass job, feel no guilt for walking away. The people you surround yourself with have a seriously big imapct on your life, so always choose wisely. When you know you know :)

7. Hair oils are life
Just trust me on this one. If you aren’t using them, start. My two current favourites are HERE & HERE.


8. You don’t always have to be ‘nice’
I don’t like rude people and I don’t like people who try to please everyone. I talked a little about this in Monday’s post, but something which people who know me well will always say about me is that I just can’t be fake with people. In the industry that I’m in, this blogging world which has evolved more than ever this past year, it’s come to my attention that often, people do seriously weird shit to get to the top. Excuse my french but look, it has to be said. There are people out there (and this is not just in blogging by the way, but in business/career in general) that will do just about anything to smooze their way to the top. And I guess, personally, I’ve learned I’m just not the biggest smoozer. This isn’t a rant by any means, each to their own is what I always say, but if there’s one thing that 2016 has thought me is that I’ll never ever be able to be fake with someone or ‘suck up to someone’ to do better in business. It’s just not in me. Networking is the name of the game in so many different paths of life, but if I don’t like the person I’m supposed to be ‘networking’ with, then I’m just not going to entertain in. At the end of the day, networking and sucking up will only get you so far. But if you’re good at what you do, people will notice you regardless. Instead of trying to be ‘nice’ to someone to get that Instagram tag (being VERY real here, but fellow bloggers will get this), I’d rather put my time and energy into creating content for YOU right here. You’re what drives Retro Flame…nothing else.

9. If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it.
Whether it’s a coffee date with a friend you’re just not up-to, a project at work your heart isn’t in, a guy you just aren’t fully sure about or for me, a big blog collaboration that I just know isn’t right, then it’s 150% Ok to say NO. It’s all or nothing and if it’s anything in between, please save yourself the stress.

10. Timing is everything
in life, things rarely go as you expect them to. When timing doesn’t add up, it’s the most annoying thing in the world, but it also needs to be taken as a sign. You just have to trust it’s all happening for a reason becuase more often than not, it always is.

Pretty sure I still have a lesson or two left to learn before the end of the year, but for now, that’s everything.

Hope you enjoyed this post – send me a snapchat to let me know if you agree with anything? My username is retroflame1.

Have a great week,
Erika x


  1. Niamh

    22 November

    Enjoyed this post.. Especially number 9 :-)

  2. Elaine

    28 November

    Great post! Number 6 and 9 are so true.

  3. Laura

    29 November

    Clearly I need some hair oil in my life! Thanks for sharing your hard earned wisdom ;)

  4. Sara

    7 December

    Great idea for post! Sometimes life can feel shitty, but it’s always good to look back and note the good things that have happened :)

  5. Nadia

    26 December

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  6. […] can definitely admit that 2016 has taught me a lot of lessons, both personally and professionally. It was a year that threw quite a few NYC-related challenges at […]

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