Since a week before 2016 ended, I’ve been looking for things to be grateful for about the past year. Ever since the stroke in 2011 and I realised I’m mortal, I’ve never wished time away, nor do I regret time I’ve spent. And practicing gratitude is good for the brain!

2016 challenged me though.

Between myriad personal, local and global intensely emotional circumstances I had a very hard time finding reasons to be grateful towards the end of the year. It was tempting to want to just write it all off.

But finally last week in the most surprising of moments it dawned on me just how much I had to be grateful for in 2016.

In my Tuesday night gym class the instructor had organised a mix of tracks from throughout 2016. As I breathed and lifted heavy weights, I grinned away to myself with songs I really enjoyed from the last year. As my body remembered how much fun I had at the gym the last 12 months, my mind automatically flashed up images of people and experiences that brought me a lot of joy in 2016. Out of nowhere I remembered…

  • Meeting some incredible new friends & acquaintances, and how I truly appreciate their presence in my life and what I continue to learn from each of them
  • Taking a few difficult decisions to honour my values and focus on my priorities (and follow my own advice!)
  • Choosing to spend time with friends, family & kids well – actively, intentionally, and in ways that benefit all of us
  • Exploring some new locations – both far-flung and close to home
  • Coaching with new clients, reconnecting with some old ones and continuing to enjoy the journey with others

Pretty heavy and unexpected stuff for a Tuesday evening gym class! So I realised I didn’t want to forget 2016 at all. There was magic and beauty along with the frustration and heartache, and it made those moments and people all the more memorable. This week, the gratitude and joy I’ve experienced from these reflections has given me momentum to build on them in what is generally thought to be a difficult week in January.

So what does this mean for you?

I realised it was inevitable that I’d carry things through to this year from the previous, no matter how hard I tried to create a clean slate. Life and my clients have taught me this is true of new jobs, new schools, new neighbourhoods. The challenging moments have happened and that energy has been created. Taking a moment to reflect, I get to intentionally carry forward lessons I’ve learned, new ideas and relationships and all the positive energy that goes with them, rather than the leftovers from the challenging bits. I also was reminded once again how engaging different senses and moving my body helps me think differently – another thing to do more of with purpose.

What triggers memories for you? What delighted you and made you feel grateful in 2016? What will you choose to carry forward into 2017?