52 reasons to celebrate your year – especially if it’s been tough

by Joanna Pieters | Follow her on Facebook here
So, my brave, vibrant friends and creators, here we are at the end of another year. 
How has it been for you? 
There’s such a strong feeling around that 2016 has been difficult. Many of us have had our values challenged, we have been put in situations that have been deeply uncomfortable, and which have have forced us to face conflict and division in our own communities.
If that was the case for you, my heart goes out to you. 
We’ve all had our own story this year. Each of us has had our own path we’ve navigated, through challenges in the world and ones in our own homes and communities. We’ve all had our own times of pain, and joy, and numbness, moments when we’ve been on fire and moments when we can’t see the next step ahead of us. 

But it’s also been a year of creativity and joy, humanity and happiness.

And as this year ends, I want to help you to find those things to focus on. 
Because those are what makes life worth living. And, no matter how tough this year has been, your life is worth living. 

We create what we focus on

That’s not a woolly, feel-good sentiment. If we tell our brain to focus on the negative, it will look for those things. But if we tell it to look for the positive, the opportunities and the joy, it will start to notice those. When we consciously notice the things that have made us feel positive, proud, or which have helped us, we have a much greater chance of repeating them.

What we actually did is also a great way of working out what our priorities really are. If you spent the year saying you wanted to paint, but you actually spent hours writing instead, that’s a clue your energy may be more naturally drawn to something else.

That means this is a really important exercise to make your 2017 the year you want it to be. So do this before you make any kind of resolutions, and you’ll have so much more of a chance of making them work.

Here’s a powerful, uplifting exercise I do regularly with all my one-to-one clients to focus on their achievements. No matter how tough things have been for you, this is a really great way to reclaim your own power to make 2017 the year you want it to be.


How to discover what you achieved

Take a pen and paper, or open your notes app or new writing file, and simply write down all the things you’ve done well or that you’re proud of this year, or times when you were simply happy.

Keep writing until you get to at least 52. 

That’s it. 
At this point you might be thinking, ’52? That’s impossible!’ 
But that’s just one per week – and I’m absolutely certain that, whatever you did this year, you achieved at least one thing that you should be proud of each week. 
It’s so easy to forget things that we’ve done once they’re over. But this is all about taking the time to give yourself credit, and to remind yourself of how you made a difference this year. 

The big achievements are wonderful

If you got your book written, your play premiered or you finally bought the house of your dreams, put those things in big letters at the top. They’re things you’ll remember for ever. 

Put down all the smaller things too

Remember the time you took action even though the pain in your heart was burning through you. The day when only your determination got you to the end of it. The time you prioritised your health, or your family, or your friends, or yourself, because it was the right thing to do, even when it was inconvenient. 
Write down the progress you made on your novel, or how much you learned about getting new clients. Write down the new connections you made because you took the initiative, and the conversations that led to more conversations and new opportunities. Put down in writing the times when you acted with integrity even when you were provoked, or when you said ‘no’ to something that wasn’t right for you. 
It’s even easier when you start to run through different areas of your life. Here are some to think about: 
  • Work 
  • Health
  • Family 
  • Friends
  • Partner and/or children
  • Learning 
  • Interests
  • Community
  • Ideas you had, or things you created
Then take a look at your diary.It’s so easy to forget how long a year is, and how much you did achieve. Maybe you made it to that parents’ evening despite everything going against you that day. Perhaps that meeting you were dreading turned out ok because of how you handled it. 

Write down everything that comes to mind for you.

Integrity, courage and self-knowledge are all achievements

If you went through a major trauma – divorce or illness, or very difficult home or work circumstances – this might be feeling particularly challenging. Think about the times when you took responsibility for your own actions and acted with intention and integrity. Be proud of each time you took a difficult decision and acted on it. Look for how you have got yourself through: perhaps new or deeper friendships, how you have respected the pain of others, or how you’ve done practical things to keep yourself moving. It’s often in our darkest times that our inner strengths come out, even though we don’t always notice them.
When you’re thinking about difficult or painful circumstances, there will probably be a little voice in your head telling you that you’re not allowed to be positive, or that you can’t take credit for good things. Simply make yourself write down three more things to silence it. 

To make this even more effective, do it with someone else. If you get stuck, or your partner gets stuck, just ask, ‘what else?’, or ‘what did you do that was good for your [health/kids – choose an area the other person hasn’t covered yet]?’ Work one at a time, and be careful not to interrupt each other until one of you has really completed their list.

Don’t stop until you get to at least 52 – and if you feel you’re really rolling, add another 52, and another. The more you notice the positive in your life, the more positive your 2017 will be – simply because the things you look for will be create your experience of your life.


Here are just a few of the things that gave me satisfaction and joy this year:

  • I launched my podcast, The Creative Life Show, and I’ve had some wonderful conversations as a result, with ideas and collaborations in the pipeline
  • I bought a grand piano, something I’d been dreaming of for years, and have been loving playing it
  • I said ‘yes’ to an invitation, which opened up a whole new area of creativity workshops
  • I nearly doubled the size of my email list without doing a lot of active work on it (I hadn’t actually realised this until I did this exercise).
  • I turned down clients who weren’t a good fit to focus on putting together a book proposal, which meant I earned less, but it’s been worth it
  • I’ve made some wonderful new friends in my local area, who have really supported me in my home and professional life, and deepened friendships with other people who’ve been in my life for a while.
  • I began writing regularly again, after several years when it’s been difficult
  • I started reading poetry regularly, and found it’s been wonderfully liberating
  • I’ve been running fairly consistently through the year, and even though I’ve had a few lapses, I’m probably fitter now than I’ve been at any point in my life

Of course I had plenty of frustrations and blocks, things that I didn’t do that I’d wanted to, and goals I feel I didn’t achieve. But looking at this list reminds me of all the wonderful things I have to build on in 2017.

Now it’s your turn! Leave a comment with what you’ve discovered – and a few of your own achievements, so we can all be inspired.

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