Actually, 2016 Was Pretty Awesome

sgt-pepper-2016I’m sure you’ve seen a friend or two talk about 2016 as a terrible year. So many celebrities dead, so many wars, so many undesirable people elected to office, etc.

Well, I disagree.

While I respect people’s feelings, the world has always been a difficult place, and things don’t go the way we would like to all the time. Celebrities and non-celebrities die every day. Wars have always happened. Idiots are elected to office every year.

We all lived the same 2016. Yet for me (and for a few reluctant friends who dared to share their thoughts in social media) this was one of the best years of my life.

I think the secret to always having a good year is to

  1. Understand what is and what isn’t under your control, and
  2. For what is under your control, have a deliberate plan so things turn out the way you want them to.

If you think 2016 was a terrible year, I’ll risk a guess that you either are

  1. Letting things that are not under your control affect too much of your life, or
  2. Not being deliberate and planning how to tackle the things that are under your control.

The folks I quoted above are the people behind becomeablogger.com and Social Media Examiner. Leslie Samuel and Michael Stelzner are incredibly successful guys who really understand what I’m trying to explain in this post.

What we can’t control

About the things that are not under my control, like the bummer of losing Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds in the span of 24 hours, there’s not much I can do. In this particular case, I may watch A New Hope and Singin’ in the Rain one more time and say a prayer for their souls and for the family they left behind. I may also choose to celebrate the positive effect their work has had in my life and watch one of their movies with my kids.

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Carrie Fisher and mom Debbie Reynolds

But in the end, bad things happen. They always do. If we can’t find a way to cope and have a strategy to deal with them, we are going to have a hard time in life.

We shouldn’t let our happiness be a direct result of these out-of-our-control events. Happiness needs to be more proactive, and less reactive.

What we can control

I’m a huge believer of setting goals for oneself. I’ve written in the past about having SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) as a way to turn their achievement more realistic. That is a great way to come up with a few items for the short/long term which you can have some control over.

intention

This past year of 2016, instead of specific goals, I decided to focus on three areas of my life, and chose three key words to define what I would work on: service, simplicity, and strength. I opened the year by writing this post which delineated how I planned on attacking these areas.

Now, 365 days behind me, I see that I made good progress in all these three areas.  Here’s what happened:

Service

2016 was a year that I made a decision to be more available to help others. Though I still have a long way to go in this area, I think I did better than previous years. I helped friends move furniture, volunteered to teach the marriage preparation course at our local church, helped my dad with his business quite a few times, created a new website for our parish on WordPress.com, cooked a couple of dinners for my family (!), volunteered to teach an introduction to WordPress course at our homeschooling co-op group, and a few other things.

There’s much more to do here. But a year ago I decided to make some gains in this area, and I did.

Simplicity

As a result of working from home and needing only my laptop to do my job, I decided to get rid of things this year.

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At first I started weighing all the items that I would donate or sell, with the intent of tallying it all up at the end of the year. That didn’t quite happen, because we were donating and selling so much that it became a nuisance to weigh everything as it left the house.

I’ve also decided to wear simpler clothes on work days, which meant I wore a whole lot of WordPress swag, making my choice on what to put on every morning a lot simpler.

2016 was a simpler year for me. I carried less weight with me, spent more quality time with my family, and did more with less. Just like I had planned it would be. Win 🙂

Strength

Besides the occasional jog throughout spring and summer, I joined the local CrossFit gym in October and since then have been working out 3-4 days a week.

I have never been in better shape. I feel younger, stronger, and healthier. I can run 5Ks faster than ever. In just 3 months, my thighs have grown from a circumference of 20 to 23 inches!

It’s hard work, but it is something I decided last year that I needed to do to be stronger.

Here’s me deadlifting 335 pounds last week:

Needless to say I have increase my strength, like I had planned I would one year ago.

Life is what you make of it

In short, your life is a collection of events, some that happen to you, and some that you make happen.

If you learn to cope with what happens to you, and start planning and executing on what you want to make happen, 2017 will likely be your best year ever, just like 2016 was for me.

Stay tuned as I will share what my three words for 2017 will be in a few days.

What will your 3 words be for 2017?