Every year at Shine, we ask our community to reflect on what they learned and how they grew—and we challenge ourselves to do the same.

Something called the fresh start effect makes this time of year peak introspection time—and taking time to reflect can set us up for success in the year to come.

As co-founders in a third year of business, this one was a doozy. And when we reflected, it was pretty serendipitous to notice how our learnings and growth reflected a lot of what we felt happen in the world around us.

Here are our top five learnings from 2019:

1. In January, when the most diverse class of lawmakers in history were sworn in, we learned the importance of taking up space.

At the same time we saw the most diverse U.S. Congress assemble in the House and Senate, we learned a lot about the marginalized communities we represent.

Our article on representation burnout—that feeling of exhaustion from being “the only one”—went viral, and you, our community, said it made you feel “uniquely seen.”

We also learned from our 2019 company offsite that the number one thing the Shine team wants to work on as individuals is “speaking up more.”

It reminded us that serving a diverse community and building a diverse team means we’re challenging ourselves and others to take up space more than we ever have before.

2. In April, when Beyoncé shared the tears, sweat, and exhaustion that went into creating her major Beychella moment in Homecoming—we learned that our biggest milestones will rarely come easily.

Like the Queen, we had a stretch of time this year where we stood taller, reached higher, and grinded harder than we EVER have since starting this company.

It was grueling.

It was exhausting.

But we knew it was temporary. And, ultimately, it led to one of our biggest years for personal and company growth to date.

The experience reminded us that we can handle a lot more than we think.

3. This summer, as the U.S. team took the Women’s World Cup trophy and the world got to know Megan Rapinoe a lot better, we learned that normal gets you nowhere.

Megan standing in her own light and owning her uniqueness reminded us a lot about our experiences with our families this year.

As one of us became a first-time parent and the other evolved her chosen family, we were reminded that the images of normalcy and advice from everyone on the right way to do something or be something isn’t for us.

Only by defining our own version of normal can we find the happiness we deserve.

In our families, our friendships, and every part of our life—we’re excited to keep rejecting normalcy.

4. In September, when Greta Thunberg took the stage at the U.N.'s Climate Action Summit, we learned the importance of calling what’s not working.

Endings are never easy. But when you know something isn’t working, it’s rarely healthy to keep it going.

Greta Thunberg’s soul-shaking “How dare you?” speech at the U.N. exemplified just that.

This year, both of us were quicker to call it.

We killed products that no longer served the future of the company.

We ended partnerships that didn’t meet our performance goals.

We halted processes that weren’t working and embraced new ones (shout-out to OKRs—or, as we call them now at Shine HQ, okurrrrs).

5. And just a couple of months ago, Meghan Markle’s comment that she “wasn’t OK” reminded us of the strength in vulnerability.

This year was awesome—but it wasn’t all roses.

Having the support of our partners and our communities was crucial as we celebrated highs and navigated setbacks. But more than ever this year, we found ourselves letting the people who wanted to support us actually support us.

We asked for help.

We released the pressure to have all the answers.

And we leaned into the strength of being supported by our people.

It’s been a beautiful year. It’s been an educational year. And we couldn’t have done it without you.

Thank you for being on our team and for being a part of the Shine community.

Our challenge for the rest of your 2019: We hope you’re able to take stock of the year you’ve had and celebrate the end of the decade and the beginning of something magical this week.

Give yourself permission to imagine the best for the new year, and trust you can handle whatever comes your way.

Cheers to 2020!

Take care,

Naomi & Marah Shine's Co-Founders and Co-CEOs