Welcome to the end of 2016! We made it. Everyone congratulate yourselves. It was a close call, but we did it.
Between the numerous celebrity deaths, a political tragedy that I can’t even begin to talk about, and too many devastating global events to even count…I think we’re all glad to put this year behind us.
But let’s not dwell on the bad. 2016 had plenty of good happen, too! I’ve had friends get married, move to new countries, start families, change jobs…. 2016 was a year of big change. For better or worse, everyone’s life is a little (or a lot) different heading into 2017.
And I am no exception. In 2016, I managed to:
– Quit a job that didn’t bring me joy
– Move across the country to start over
– Get a new job doing something I love
– Reconnect with old friends
– Remove negative people from my life
– Meet new and amazing people who will shape my life moving forward
…I even went to Peru to hike the Inca Trail!
As a whole, 2016 was a rough but wonderful year. I struggled, but I’m a better person for it. And that’s what matters.
So now, as we count down to the end of the year, it’s a good time to consider what lessons can be learned from 2016.
Lesson #1: It’s possible to think too much.
I’ve had multiple friends comment to me this year that I “think too much.” They’re right — I overanalyze everything. Relationships, social encounters, purchases…it’s exhausting! And it does more harm than good. It flat out keeps me from being happy! The more time I spend ruminating on a topic, the more it stresses me out. Worst of all, it’s completely unnecessary. But at least I’m aware of it now so I can do something about it in 2017!
Lesson #2: It’s important to listen.
If the recent election was any indication, we’ve all gotten a little too good at hiding in our echo chambers. We’ve stopped even trying to listen to people who disagree with us because we are so certain that they’re wrong and we’re right. It’s something I’ve been guilty of quite a bit this year. And while it feels good to create a bubble where everyone you talk to agrees with your views, it’s unproductive. Just like it’s useless to dismiss opposing views and yelling talking points at someone who doesn’t agree. I think we’d all be better off if we tried to leave our bubbles, engage in calm, rational conversations, and really try to listen. We need to listen and understand. A little empathy could go a long way.
Lesson #3: Perspective is everything.
There is always a positive, however small it may be. It’s that one positive thing that gets you through your hardest moments. Viewing everything as the worst or awful or terrible leaves you feeling defeated. Why even bother trying, right? But that’s not how the world works. You can’t just quit. So you focus on the positive. That’s how I’ve learned to make it through my more trying moments at the office. I may not know what I’m doing. I may not do it right. But at least, after I’ve screwed up, I’ll know how to do it right….and that’s something!
Lesson #4: You can’t hide from making decisions.
The biggest trap I’ve fallen into this year is not being active with my choices. Instead, I’ve passively allowed the world to make decisions for me. I rely on others to plan outing, choose restaurants, suggest activities…. and as a result, I feel less in control of my life. But when I make a point to live actively—to workout, to make breakfast, to call a friend—I feel better. Lesson learned, 2016. It’s time to take control.
Lesson #5: Balance brings you joy.
Life gets crazy. You move, you change jobs and you feel like you’re just barely holding on as everything goes to hell around you. But get through the storm and things WILL calm down again. That’s when you need to return to the things that excite you—that make you happy in your daily life. Work has been crazy for me, but I’ve found that amidst all the insanity, taking time to pursue the things I’ve always loved, like running and cooking, are helping me handle the stress better. Ignoring my passions to make time for work was just making work harder. I’m sure the winds will kick up again soon, but I know that with a little more balance in my life, I won’t drown.
2016 was a tough year, but we got through it! And we learned a lot. Now, instead of forgetting everything and starting 2017 from scratch, let’s try to learn from our mistakes.