My 2016 — The Year of Resilience

by Noemi Stauffer

Looking back, it doesn’t feel like I accomplished much last year. Indeed, 2016 has been a difficult one, paved with obstacles and coming with many moments of discouragement. As I’m writing this, I can’t help but feel glad it’s over.

I still remember how 2016 started, back in the first days of January. As I was just coming back from my native town in Switzerland, we went for drinks at Lobo, a charming bar downtown Barcelona, with my friends Carol and Maribel. I was stressed out financially, had been for months. Feeling completely drained. Surprisingly, my friends’ situations weren’t much better. We decided to blame it on 2016. It kind of sticked. Not for them, eventually, their lives fell back into place. But not mine. Here is how it went down.

Lobo Bar in El Raval, downtown Barcelona.

Left Barcelona.

After calling Barcelona my home for more than five years, I had to resign myself and leave everything behind. So I sold most of my stuff, packed my bags, and took the first flight back to Montreal, my heart broken and my eyes in tears.

This was a pretty devastating experience, given how many amazing people I had met, and how strongly I was attached to the Catalan capital. It’s been a difficult failure to take in, but I finally moved on and decided to make my future so exciting that in a way, it would have been worth it.

“Look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.” 
― Tom Stoppard

Hi Canada.

Well, well. So I’m based out in Quebec City now. Not by choice really, but I can use free healthcare these days. And not paying rent is a plus. More insights on this in my recent post How I became a digital nomad — Part One, reducing costs.

Le Château Frontenac, downtown Quebec City.

Became health conscious (at last).

It was more than time that I start looking after myself. A well overdue medical checkup revealed that I suffer from various health problems, some of them quite serious. I’m on a steady path for recovery now, but it required a drastic change of lifestyle, among other things.

I used to be the biggest foodie around, now I’m very cautious about what I eat. I don’t drink. Sleep on average eight hours a night. Hit the gym 3–4 times a week. Walk about 15'000 steps the days I don’t. Force myself not to work on weekends. Take time off.

As a result, I can concentrate and feel productive again, and waking up in the morning is no longer a walk of shame. I’m also more patient and much more creative. Don’t be like me and start before you’re 30.

Lost 10 kg in three months.

Well, the medication for my health problems is mostly responsible for it, but hey, I’ll still take the credit.

Read a life changing book.

Okay, one is not a lot — I agree. But if there is only one book you should read, it’s this one: Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky. It is a must read for people who, like me, constantly come up with great ideas but rarely have them see the light of day. This book provides you the tips and mindset to turn vision into reality, and stay motivated in the process. Don’t think twice and go get it.

“While the tendency to generate ideas is rather natural, the path to making them happen is tumultuous.” — Scott Belksy

Fell in love with Porto.

Aah, because… 2016 wasn’t all bad. I had a great time getting introduced to Porto’s artsy scene, meeting a dozen of friendly designers, writers and editors. Not to mention Miguel’s yearly birthday bash which is always a blast :)

Became a growth hacker.

Well, a rather unexperienced one at the moment, but while completing the digital marketing and growth hacking course at Hyper Island, it just hit me — growth hacking is my thing. It’s a beautiful marriage of tech and business, a perfect mix of art and science. I can’t get enough of it.

Oh and by the way, there is no such thing as ‘growth hacking’. There is no magic. Like in most things, it’s just a matter of hard work or persistance.

Stopped client work.

Because let’s be honest, freelancing is cool, and it does provide a great deal of flexibility, but it doesn’t scale. At the end of the day, just like for every service company, the money you make exclusively depends on the hours you put in — the hours you bill. I needed to find a more risky (and more rewarding) challenge, put my skills to a better use, and pursue a bigger dream.

Started a business.

Or am in the process of starting a business, really. Figuring out how to bootstrap an ecommerce is not that straightforward. But I will get there. And since I no longer do client work, I’m able to give it all my time and energy which is pretty awesome. We’ll see how it goes. But I have faith in 2017.

Life is short. Go for it.

Seeing friends and family fight cancer this year made me more aware of how much our time here is a gift. An amazing yet unpredictable, limited gift. I used to wake up taking everything for granted — my health, my home, my life. Postponing the things I really wanted to do. Avoiding the things that really mattered. Truth is, we’re not gonna live forever.

So, I made it a rule. Make the most out of it. Live without regrets. Even for small things. Ask that girl for her phone number. Do things I am afraid of. Life is made of small victories.


Thank you!

Thanks to all friends who have been so supportive during this challenging year. Can’t wait to see what’s in the stars for 2017!

Hope you enjoyed reading,
Noemi

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