The Year's End - a Reflection

I'm not really one for grand resolutions for the New Year but, if anything, this day is the perfect excuse to look back on these last twelve months in their entirety. And, in general, it's always useful to take stock sometimes and ask ourselves how we are getting on, what's going right in our lives and what needs working on. When I think of 2016, what sticks out personally is the fact that I think it's when I started to really find my own voice in the art I put out, be that words, photographs or music. Something started to click for me around February. It was tangible. After years of floundering around the edges I finally felt assured and confident in what I was creating. But that's not to say it's mission completed. Far from it. I'm still light years from where I feel I would like to be and so this is really just the start. But as with any year there have also been some challenging timesthings I wish I could replay, mistakes I agonise over, opportunities not seized. Having had some time this afternoon to think back over 2016, here are the things I've picked up along the way.

1. Create create create. If there's one thing I've realised this year, it's how much we as humans, and certainly me personally, need to create. Whether it's a photograph, a book, a meal, a melody, a drawing, a company, anything! You won't catch me at a better time than when I've just created something. These are the moments I feel most alive and most connected to my peers and to the earth. So much of society today is based around taking. We take and we consume all day every day. But to create (in whatever form that is) and give something back to yourself and to the world is something pretty special and something I will strive for more and more.

2. We need to talk. Some months back, the gym I visit installed barriers which meant no more checking in with the person sat at the desk. So what?, I hear you ask. Well, it's just another example of how we are losing the channels to communicate and interact with one another. It's possible these days to go hours without ever needing to interact face to face - you tap your contactless card to pay for coffee, you tap another card to get on the bus, you shop online, etc. I'm not saying that I don't appreciate the efficiency we have gained from technology. The advances that have been made to make our lives easier are incredible. But we're a social animal. Even if you're quiet, shy or introverted (like me) it's still in our biology that we require interaction. And it's become so evident this year to me just how many of these opportunities for us to do so are being lost. That's why when I go to the gym now, I still make sure to find a member of staff to say hello to and ask how they are before swiping in. Something so small, so simple and so necessary.

3. Consistency is king. More through failure and falling short have I understood the enormity of consistency in getting to where we want to be. It seems obvious to say, I know, but it's constantly a problem for me and likely for you too, so it needs to be emphasised. This year, where I have remained consistent with an action, I've benefited greatly. So whether you're trying to improve your craft, are wanting to run a faster marathon or to learn a new language, never skip a day. Because everyday you miss sets you back. Consistency is what will get you the experience you need in the shortest amount of time, so it's a no-brainer. The hard part, though, is obviously being consistent at being consistent. But if you are, the results will speak for themselves.

4. I'm a loser, baby. This may be the first year that I've understood why it's just as important to lose as it is to gain. I'm talking things, ideas, habits, people, thoughts. We're taught the value of acquiring knowledge, skills, abilities and possessions, which of course are necessary, but to let go of certain things in our lives can be equally empowering. So this year I've tried to do just that - to rid myself of material things that were of no use, to stop doing certain things so that I had more time to focus on what mattered and to lose dialogue with energy vampires and other such people. If we carry on as we are we accumulate many unwanted things over time, so to pro-actively consider what can be dumped is a liberating exercise and one which I will continue to pursue into 2017.

5. Risk it for the biscuit. I have always been quite a risk-averse person but this year has been different. There have been a few occasions in which I've taken small risks (nothing huge!) but enough to challenge myself. And even in instances where they haven't paid off, the results have not been threatening in any way. It's taught me to remove the limits that I and so many others often put on themselves. Doing so has given me opportunities this year that I simply would have not even considered trying before. So, I've learnt that a little risk is good every now and again, and that may well be the one thing I'd like to implant into my head as we enter this new year.

Well, I could carry on here all day but, alas, it is New Year's Eve and there is a party to be had! If you are similarly using this day as a measuring stick for seeing how your year has been, let me know in the comments. Let me know what kind of year it's been, if anything has resonated and what tweaks you might initiate to make 2017 even better. I guess that's time for me to sign off for 2016. Wishing you and yours all the very best for the New Year.  

One Thinking Man.