2016 made me feel like Jon Snow (Game of Thrones reference – and it is not a spoiler, geez). I realised that I knew nothing. For some of us, the world before 2016 was a bit more understandable, logical, and even predictable. But 2016 was that huge curve ball with spikes that just knocked us off our game and pricked the bubble we never thought we were in.
I’m not going to enumerate and analyse all the weird, painful, scandalous, and surprising things that happened this 2016 to the world. You can do a quick google search and see news, fake news, blogs claiming to be news, comments sections (don’t go there), and so much more! What I am going to share with you are more personal things I learned this 2016 so that I don’t forget and hopefully, you don’t forget too and you could come up with your own list of lessons learned for 2016.
Before the lessons, let me warn you that 2016 is probably THE most difficult year for me personally. It was my high school bully: irrational, persistent, and really really mean. It also came with an awesome gift, which is my little baby boy Miguel. But I felt so so battered and bruised that I found it extra challenging to even take care of my son. And it was a horrible feeling! Don’t worry though, I feel much better now. There are still many challenges, but I am well enough now to reflect on them and even objectively (gasp) evaluate some of them.
So with that super cheerful caveat, here are the lessons I learned for 2016 (not in order of importance):
1) It is possible to memorise the lyrics of Guns and Ships (Hamilton Reference) and still not be able to rap it (HUHU). Keep on practicing anyway and you’ll get there little by little (I can rap 2 sentences now). Like most things, just knowing what to do is not enough, you have to do it and do it over and over again. So don’t stop learning. Learning is a muscle you have to exercise! Every achievement, no matter how small, will build your confidence and help you achieve more.
2) We know nothing. I thought I knew people and common sense, but really, the world is much more complicated than that. We have to dig deep and out of our comfort zones and echo chambers. We have to expose ourselves to discomfort and really listen to what’s being said and what’s not being said. The world does not revolve around our definition of “common”.
3) Don’t think in terms of prerequisites. How does this look like/sound like? Like this: “If only I have X, I’ll be able to do Y”. And this is SO HARD. It is easier to hide behind prerequisites. But prerequisites are tricky. There are always prerequisites to the prerequisites and the list goes on. I mean, there are times when prerequisites are really needed before something gets done (Oh, I know this SO well), but don’t let **all** aspects of your life and happiness depend on an external factor.
4) We are all just figuring things out as we go along. Not even the smartest person you know has got everything figured out.
5) Losing your chill is a choice and there are consequences. There were many times this year that REALLY tested my chill. Seriously. And there were times when I lost it and times when I kept it. Now, I could just say that “that’s the way I am, accept me” or “Oh well, my emotions got the better of me”. But saying these just won’t help me grow or improve. Instead, I’m accepting that keeping my chill is my choice. And for the times that I’ll lose it again, I could always, always bounce back and try again.
6) Making difficult decisions can be done in a compassionate way, but some decisions really have to be made for (and I used to hate this term) the greater and more long-term good. I wish life is not riddled with so many compromises and that we can truly have it all. But that’s not the case in life, business, love, diets, and other things. The best we can do is try (all the time) to remember our values and let it it guide the way we do things.
7) People will help you in their terms and in how and to what extent they want to help, not necessarily with what you need. And that’s okay, you’ll survive!
8) There will be some causes that will drain you in so many ways, but you’ll stick by them anyway because of love. As cheesy as it may sound, love is a valid motivation – not necessarily just financial gains
9) But having said that, money is important. The more you avoid it (the topic, talking about it, asking for it), the more it will avoid you.
10) There is an expiration date to blaming someone else for the decisions you have made even if they made you decide on those decisions. Yes, even if they did!
11) That said, try not to put yourself in a position where other people will decide for you or pressure you to decide against your gut.
12) We can’t give up and we can’t stop hoping. Even if there are lots of things (and people) we cannot understand, we have to try our best to understand them. But as we try and even succeed to understand them, it does not mean that we succumb or give up on our own principles and values. Now more than ever, we have to stick to them and fight for them. The future will be shaped by the battles we choose to fight today and how we choose to fight them.
How I put together the 12 top things I learned from 2016:
I keep a digital journal (Day One – I swear by it!) and read through key entries at the end of the year. I pick up and jot down themes, wins, and challenges, and as I go through them, some recurring lessons emerge. It is true that the lessons you have not learned will keep on haunting you until you learn them the hard way. GAH. Thanks a lot 2016. I know that sounds sarcastic (and you have no idea how many times I said that in my most sarcastic tone), but it is quite sincere.
Thanks a lot, 2016.