2016. Here one day, gone the next.
Looking back there were great moments, sad moments, and shocking moments, but altogether 2016 was a solid year for me. If I had to sum it up in just 3 words, those words would be travel, growth, and relationships.
We were on the move in 2016! While my husband, James, and I typically schedule in one big international trip each year, we really upped our game this past year, adding in some more domestic trips in addition to our usual overseas jaunts. Combine that with a few different work trips and I was on the road quite a bit. In fact, I even reached Delta’s Silver Medallion status for the first time ever. Woo-hoo!
So where did I happen to run off to? I’m glad you asked:
- San Francisco (3x)
- New Orleans
- NYC (2x)
- Lisbon, Portugal
- Seville, Spain
- Madrid, Spain
- Barcelona, Spain
Whew! That’s a lot of places but one that really sticks out for me is Lisbon. It’s difficult to put my finger on the exact reason, but I absolutely loved it there! Lisbon offered great food, awesome people, and a gorgeous European cityscape, and as an added bonus, our apartment was perfectly located and provided a breathtaking view as well. It could not have been any better. After waking each morning and before hitting the sack in the evenings, James and I would simply open the windows, lean out, and spend a few minutes taking in the beautiful scenery all around us.
Seville proved to be another great destination as well. Here, we spent our days wandering through the city, visiting historical sites, and taking in the local culture. We toured the Seville Cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried, Alcázar, which served as Water Gardens of Dorne for you Game of Thrones fans out there, and the Plaza de España. Our Airbnb host was also gracious enough to book a live flamenco show for us one evening, a first for both James and me. If you’ve never seen it, flamenco is a combination of guitar playing, singing, dancing, snapping, and hand-clapping. Talk about talent — the show was incredible!
A trip abroad wouldn’t be complete without some delicious eats, so we also enjoyed copious amounts of tapas, Iberian ham, and cañas, perfectly sized beers that you can down before your brew starts to get warm. On our last day in Seville, we ventured out to a local market where we took a cooking class with Victor, a professionally trained chef who taught us how to make refreshing gazpacho, a creamy spinach and chickpea dish, and the most authentic and best-tasting paella I’ve ever eaten. Mmm…so tasty!
I also spent 2016 working to build new and continue nurturing existing habits, namely making my bed daily, hitting the gym, getting serious about flossing, and falling asleep on the couch less (I’m convinced narcolepsy runs in my dad’s side of the family so the last one was actually quite tough). I also read 15 books throughout the year. If you’re looking for recommendations, check out some of my favorites from 2016:
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
- Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Aside from cultivating personal habits, I got my Salesforce ADM 201 certification in July and had the opportunity to attend 2 excellent conferences in October, where I could focus on growing both professionally and personally. For work, I went to my first ever Dreamforce, a massive user conference hosted by Salesforce out in San Francisco. The experience was amazing, and I learned a ton during that week, everything from Salesforce product-specifics to data analysis to key strategies for running a successful SaaS (software as a service) business.
At the end of the same week, I took off from SF and headed to NYC for another conference called Forefront. Hosted by best-selling author and CEO/Founder of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi, the event’s focus was on connecting top performers with other like-minded individuals, breaking down mental barriers, and getting specific about what you want out of life.
The 500-person conference was filled with a mix of people: entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, and leaders from various walks of life. People traveled from all over the States and numerous countries (Germany, Singapore, The Netherlands, and Mexico to name a few) just to be there. For the keynote, we heard FUBU Founder and Shark Tank extraordinaire, Daymond John, tell his story and share lessons he learned while building his business and his brand from the ground up. It was an action-packed weekend and a great way to connect with people from around the globe who are all doing big things.
Speaking of connecting, 2016 will go down as the year I began working much harder at building and nurturing relationships with friends, family, and colleagues, past and present. I’m naturally quiet and shy until I get to know people well, and historically, I haven’t been great at keeping in touch. This sometimes comes across as if I’m being standoffish or aloof, so in 2016 I wanted to focus on developing the skill of connecting and stop hiding behind the same old lame excuses. I still have a ways to go for sure, but I’m certainly on the right track.
Last year I made 2 long-awaited trips to connect with old friends, my bestie from middle school and my college roommate from senior year. It’s amazing to me that we didn’t seem to skip a beat even after being apart for months (years?) at a time. I guess that’s how you know the friendship is built to last. No matter how far apart you are, it’s like you never left.
Lastly, I was able to spend a good bit of time with my family. We got together for cookouts, low country boils, brunches, dinners, our annual Thai/American Thanksgiving, and we enjoyed a peaceful and relaxing Christmas together. It’s great that we live close enough to share so many wonderful experiences and simply enjoy each other’s company on a regular basis. If ever you needed a refresher on how precious life’s moments truly are, check out Tim Urban’s post, The Tail End. It serves as an excellent reminder.
Warning: If you’re the emotional type, you may want to have some tissues handy. Just sayin’.
Well, that wraps up my 2016: plenty of traveling, new experiences, improved relationships, and tons of growth. I hope your year was filled with the same and that 2017 brings you closer to the ones you love and the goals you want to accomplish.
What were some of your favorite moments in 2016? What are you looking forward to as we kick off the new year?