Lessons From 2016 And What They Mean For The New Year

As each year comes to an end, I take the time to look back and reflect on all that has happened. Quite often it's hard to see the big picture as your living the day to day but when there is a big milestone, like a new year, a birthday, the beginning of another season... taking the time to record your wins, lessons and growth is essential.

For me, 2016 was an extreme year in self-improvement, self-acceptance and a general celebration of life. So much happened in the past 12 months and endless lessons were learned and it has set me up for an even better year to come.

The Importance Of Keeping Good Company


I will continuously stand by the fact that the people you spend your time with directly affect your actions and growth. In the past year, I learned how to proactively spend time with others who brought positivity and meaning into my life. 

They say that you should never be the smartest person in the room, that you should constantly be learning from those around you and I’ve never found this to be truer. During the second half of the year, I met some of the most amazing women during a Digital Nomad Girls retreat in Javea that have changed my life for the better. I was also introduced to so many long-term expats in Spain that I had admired for quite some time at the THRIVE with LMDES conference in November. Not only that but other meaningful friendships were strengthened tenfold. 

This year I urge you to: Take out time to craft meaningful relationships, find accountability partners and keep yourself with those who will encourage you to be your best self. It makes all of the difference in how you live your daily life and what the future holds.


Understand That Your Circumstances Don’t Define You


Time to talk about the “hard stuff.” During March of 2016, I lost all of my hair in a span of two weeks and was diagnosed with alopecia areata… an auto-immune disease I had never heard of before my circumstances. I’ll be honest in saying that when it first happened I was scared that I was dying (because I didn't know what was happening) but the emotions that followed were never expected.

I felt grateful.

Grateful that I still had my health and strength, because in the end… hair is just hair. The situation that I was put in taught me a lot about self-love and self-worth, redefining what is beautiful and realizing that at the end of the day; your character is what really matters.


Unless you know me personally, you might not ever realize that I have alopecia unless I decided to share it with you. You know why? Because it is not what defines me. There is so much more to my life, my being and my sense of worth that what some circumstances have put me in.


This year I urge you to: Stop defining yourself by the situation you're currently in. You are more than what is happening to you right now. There are levels to your worth and when you start defining yourself by who you really are, not by what you’re going through at the moment, that is what matters.


Everything You Can Imagine Is Real - Start Saying YES To Big Ideas


2016 was a year of wins. It was a year of saying yes to the big ideas and dreams I’ve always had and putting in the time and effort to make it happen. I am a big believer in manifestation and writing down your big dreams because they will come to life. You might have heard of Audre Lorde doing just that… well, it works. I'm an optimist and will be the first person to create really big goals but when they come true, it's not thanks to luck... it's thanks to hard work and consistency. 

In the past year, some big wins were...

Turning 25.

Moving into my own two bedroom apartment in the south of Spain.

LMDES being registered as an LLC.

Being paid to speak at my first conference… and also hosting my first conference with over 120 attendees.

Being hired to work with a company I’ve always admired (I manifested it in 2013).

Presenting an award to an Olympian at the PSOE Diversity Gala (a Spanish political party).

Traveling for free throughout Spain, Europe and even to the US.

Being hired to work with Syracuse University in 2017. 

Having multiple speaking engagements (HubDot BCN, Vassar College, Travel Noire, NowThis [coming soon...], THRIVE) and big press for LMDES (NPR, Huffington Post, The Local Spain, JetSet Times).


You get where I’m going with this, it was a successful year. If you had asked me if I imagined any of this a year ago, I’ll tell you no BUT I do truly believe that when you think big and work hard towards what you want, it will come.


This year I urge you to: Write down what you want your life to look like in 3 years from now. Don’t hold back in envisioning the best life for yourself and then scale back and think about what actions you can be doing here and now to work towards that. I’d also recommend reading Living Forward if you need help envisioning what truly matters to you.


2016 taught me many more lessons, like the importance of investing in yourself and why sustainability is key to success but we can save those topics for another time.

2017 is already looking promising and I’d love to know what would you like to see happen in your life in the upcoming year.

What have you learned and how will that lead to growth?