Photo by Juliet Warren. Whiskey by Maker’s Mark.
So let’s get it out of the way: 2016 sucked a fair bit for most people.
But you know what? Fuck it.
We’ve gotta learn to deal somehow. Shit happens, has happened, and will continue to happen.
We’ll always have ups and downs and side to sides in this life. We win friends and lose them. Our heroes guide us, only to age and pass away too soon. Our political views sometimes get upheld, until election cycles put leaders we relate to significantly less (#understatement) in power.
That’s why, even as we bid a middle finger farewell to 2016, a year many of us will be glad to see the back of — hunting through the shadows for little jewels of light can only serve us.
Some pretty solid things doubtlessly happened to you this year, just perhaps on the smaller scale. So I challenge you to find ’em, share ’em, and share ’em loud.
Because the brighter we leave 2016, the brighter we can start this new year, and gear ourselves up to bring our massive, unmistakable supernova-like light to the world.
So, in the name of sanity, and being a human ready to explode into 2017 — I did some digging into the good that happened for me this year.
Here’s what I found.
(WARNING: PRESENTED IN LOUD, ALL-CAPS FASHION.)
6 THINGS THAT ROCKED MY FACE IN 2016:
1) I WROTE MY ASS OFF
I’m proud to shout from the rooftops that I wrote more this year than in my past 5 years of business combined.
This was largely thanks to the kind folks at Crew.co who let me jam on their blog (shoutout to Jory, best editor on the planet), and the peeps at Business Insider, The Next Web, The New York Observer, Quartz, and more who scooped up my pieces to spread the good word.
Writing so much was an unprecedented chance to challenge myself with topics around which I had a lot of vague philosophies, but not a ton of concrete ideas. That’s the ultimate challenge for any writer; finding ways to dig under the answers that seem obvious to you for your own reasoning.
The 5 I’m proudest of are:
How to Never Run Out of Things to Write About Ever: This was the fastest piece I wrote this year, but also one of the most impactful. Turns out, writing that gets your engine running doesn’t start when you get that first line onto a blank doc. It starts with the right questions.
Don’t Write Words, Write Music: By far one of my most challenging pieces of the year, this baby got written, rewritten, and re-edited probably close to 10 times. But the end result is something that makes my chest particularly puffed up; especially when it comes to identifying my own style.
Are you the Icing or the Cake: The Art of Becoming Indispensable: I got fired by a client and wrote a blog post about what I’d learned. The reaction was unexpectedly massive. I still have a theory most of the people who clicked just really like cake, though.
Content is King, and Other Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Write Online: Come for the annoyed pug in the blanket photo, stay for an extensive rant about how everyone sounds the same on the internet.
Vertigo: What to do When You Wanna F — ing Quit: This was the year I embraced brutal honesty with my writing, and I penned this quick love note to anyone in the creative sphere in the darkest throes of the battle we all fight, day in, day out.
Reminder: Just keep your gloves raised. You got this.
2) I GOT A CROCKPOT/SLOW COOKER AND DAMN GUYS THIS THING IS THE SHIT
While I’m not sure of the exact date of purchase (it may have been 2015 *cough*), I got into my slow cooker jam this year.
I made eeeverything in there y’all — from soups that warm the soul, to brisket that’s so damn moist it falls apart if you breathe on it just right, to clean eating recipes that actually taste delightful.
Work from home folks: if you don’t have one yet, this thing is a game changer.
I think everyone has 20 minutes in their day to chop some veggies, toss some meat in, and hit the “on” switch. Then a few hours later? BOOM. Your house is full of “Holy shit what is that?!” delicious dinner smells, and you’re ready to eat.
If you’ve got a slow cooker and you haven’t tried it yet? Here’s my recipe pinboard. YOU’RE WELCOME.
3) HOT DAMN IT WAS AN AMAZING YEAR FOR MUSIC I MEAN REALLY
#1 song: Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam
#2 song: Beck’s WOW
Albums I listened to mercilessly:
Kanye West: The Life of Pablo
Bon Iver: 22, a Million
Rufus Du Sol: Bloom
Best live shows: Tame Impala, Roosevelt, Har Mar Superstar.
4) I TAUGHT PEOPLE FOR THE FIRST TIME AND IT WAS SURPRISINGLY FUCKING AWESOME
If you’ve ever spent any time around me in a professional setting you’ll know I hesitated to teach for years. I’m always frightened that it’ll be revealed I don’t actually know enough, or have enough to offer, and my entire life and career will come crashing down over my head.
But this year I made it a point to try and crawl out of my shell. I did a fair number of video interviews and hot seats (some of which are launching next year), and most importantly, I had the chance to teach people live and in person, which was a first for me.
I’ll admit: I was terrified. My whole body was sweating underneath my extremely strategically-worn blazer; especially my palms, which were crushing the 10 pages of notes — THAT I DIDN’T END UP USING BY THE WAY — into a napkin like texture.
But you know what? I did it. And the hot seat questions that were being fired my way were so much fun, the whole audience worked through lunch to keep going.
5) I GOT TO SPEND CHILL TIME WITH CLIENTS AND TEAMS I’VE BEEN WORKING WITH FOR YEARS
The weirdest thing about remote work is how little time you actually spend in the same room as the people who pay your bills. But this year I got to spend some real time with the clients and crews who’ve completely changed my life.
Turns out we get along as well in person as we do on the phone, Slack, and Google Hangout. Who knew?
6) I MADE A WHOLE BUNCH OF NEW INTERNET FRIENDS (PROBABLY YOURSELF INCLUDED) WHO ARE A FUCKING VISION TO BEHOLD
The more I write, and the more I expose my Godzilla of a personality to the internet word, the more incredible people I’ve had the opportunity to meet, collaborate with, and love on.
And I have to say: it’s surprised me. I always imagined the internet, and the influencers on it, to have their ranks tightly closed off.
Surprise: I was completely wrong.
As creatives and entrepreneurs, it’s so important that we don’t just find ourselves sitting at the tops of our own perceived towers all alone. We have to keep our eyes up and on who’s ahead of us, and who’s doing things differently. This is not to imitate them or find ourselves feeling small; but to stay inspired, and ready for what’s next.
There always has to be another target, another idea to work through, a new angle. Get and stay inspired by watching the people who are doing it right, just a few steps ahead of you.
I also invested in some seriously killer group coaching this year — shoutout to Erika Lyremark and the Mark’d Mastery Crew!
SO, 2016. YOU WEREN’T THE BEST. BUT WHAT GOOD IS THERE IN CONTINUING TO CALL YOU THE WORST?
I won’t miss you when you’re gone — but for all the bullshit, challenges, and tragedies, you offered up some blessings too.
I moved into an awesome new apartment with my partner. I continued to build a business I’m proud of. I got to share ideas with people across the globe. Stranger Things hit Netflix. Westworld hit HBO.
And for that, I’m grateful. And that won’t stop with the year’s end either.
Goodbye forever 2016, and don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
Who knows what’s ahead, but symbolically your exit can offer at least a brief heartbeat of positivity in the world. I can roll with that.
And 2017? I see you just around the corner.
And I’m ready.