I don’t know many people that thought 2016 was a great year. In fact, I know a few that are glad to see the back of the last 12 months and to some extent I count myself amongst them. It’s been a rollercoaster of a year to say the least – for every up there was a down and for every earth-shattering high there was a gut-wrenching low to match.
You could argue we shouldn’t need to wait for the end of a calendar year to reflect on the past and make plans for the future – and whilst I agree that we need to regularly reassess where we are at and where we want to go, for me there is something satisfying in taking stock of an entire year’s progress. We have all grown in some way during the past 12 months. In the UK, we have recently lived through the winter solstice a.k.a. the darkest day of the year, which also makes this a perfect time to look forwards and let go of the past.
In 2015, I attended a pagan solstice party where we all threw a piece of Yule log into the bonfire to burn something we did not wish to hold on to anymore. This year I didn’t get the chance to join the party, so I’m mentally burning that piece of Yule log instead.
2016 has been a year of many lessons, for all of us around the world. Here are 16 things I learnt this year – I’d love to hear some of yours below in the comments.
There’s no such thing as ‘enough’ friends.
Some of the people I met during the last 12 months really made my year.
I am braver than I give myself credit for.
Not many people know that while I have been scuba diving many times in many seas, it actually terrifies me and causes me extreme anxiety. So I keep doing it – because it challenges me. In November I had an amazing experience diving in the Red Sea for the first time and once again faced my fear.
Social media does not define me.
I had a huge social media detox earlier this year when I desperately needed to focus on myself. In fact, I’ll never reinstall the Facebook app on my phone – I barely use Facebook at all now. It doesn’t mean I don’t keep in touch with those I want to.
When you’re fragile, self-preservation is everything.
Looking after yourself means creating a cocoon of safety where nothing negative, toxic or damaging to get in.
The people who are supposed to be in your life will always be there; similarly, those who walk away have no further part to play.
I have so many friends all over the world and it amazes me the effort we will go to to nurture our relationships. But life is like a story; not every character will stay in the pages until the final chapter.
Yoga is still one of my favourite things in the world.
I had far less time for exercise in 2016 than the year before, but I still make time to practice and I’m thoroughly addicted.
Healthy eating = healthy me.
My diet has been full of fruit and veg this year. My schedule has been manic but my energy levels are higher than ever, which I can only put down to how I’m eating.
Once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.
A slight change in your perspective makes rock bottom a weirdly liberating spot to find yourself in.
Be nice to everybody you meet. Always.
You never know what crap other people are dealing with, or what part they may come to play in your life in the future. For example, I met one of my biggest clients of 2016 in a wine bar.
There is such a thing as too much empathy.
The hardest lesson 2016 taught me was that I simply can’t be there for everybody all of the time, much as it kills me to see people I care about suffering. When I have my own shit going on, I’ve got to focus on myself.
The best of friends will get you through the worst of times.
There is nothing I take away more strongly from 2016 than this truth.
But if that isn’t enough – travel.
Nothing like a change of scenery for a complete change in perspective.
There is no time limit on forgiveness.
Even if it takes a while, you will get there in the end. The journey to forgiveness and moving on from pain is not an overnight train.
If you love somebody (but it’s not right), let them go.
I always say, “Nothing worth doing in life is ever easy.” There’s not much so honourable as letting someone you care for walk away from you to find true happiness.
Cherish time with your family.
I’ve been learning this lesson for a long time but this year it got really real. You don’t know how much time you have with these people – don’t take it for granted.
If you aren’t working in a job that fulfils you, get out now.
I’ve met way too many people this year that are embarrassed to reveal their profession or publicly say they hate their job. So – quit! Go do something that you are good at and that you enjoy doing. It really is that simple, and life really is too short to ignore this lesson.
What are your lessons learnt from 2016? Share in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.