A letter to my 2016 self

On New Year’s Eve I finished a great online course on reflecting on 2015 and looking forward to 2016 (Reboot 2016). It helped me write this letter to my future self. After showing a few family and friends, I wanted to share it more broadly to help keep me honest.


Dear 2016 Mark,

I know that 2015 was huge. You experienced huge highs and huge lows. You started your life together with Sharon, left a great team to explore what’s next professionally, and lost your father to lung cancer as a non-smoker. All these experiences bring opportunity for growth. Don’t squander them. Below are my suggestions for how to make the best of this new year.

Remember Dad Everyday

Always ask WWDD (What Would Del Do?). Dad’s passing has given you so many things from which to learn.

  • All those stories about Dad advocating for young lawyers and of his continuous efforts to tear down an ‘Old Man’s Club’ atmosphere should motivate you to be fair and equitable with everyone.
  • Dad was always able to find the humor in the gravest of situations. He gave you your positive and fun attitude. Don’t let that go.
  • Always be thankful for having been raised in a loving home. You only learned how rare this is later in life; never forget it.

Be present with Sharon

Listen to her more and when you feel frustration rising, always remember she has your best interest at heart. She often recognizes things that you are blind to or naive about. Let her help you.

Spend more time with those you care about

Dad’s death helped strengthen many relationships. Don’t let them slip back into “safe” friendships. Double down on the friends and family who were (and are) there for you.

Be more open

Throughout Dad’s sickness and death, Mom never shied away from her emotions. Whether sending Del update emails to the hundreds of caring friends or talking openly about her grief, Mom provided a great example for you to follow. Sharing emotions helps friends empathize, fostering deeper friendships.

Happy New Year,

Mark Brenneman

December 31, 2015