This has been a year of immense change, huge challenge, and enormous self-discovery. It’s been a dangerously tough year, but ultimately a seminal period of my life.

The life I had when I began 2016 has almost completely changed – much of it is in fact gone. This year ends with me leading a very different life, but one I feel is much closer to what will allow me to be my best self and a significantly happier person.

I began the year a married man who lived in the family home with his children, and who had a highly successful corporate career in full swing. On paper, I had it all: home, work, and relationship all had ticks in the checkboxes. But in each of those areas, there were major fault lines and the changes had already started, and were always going to come to a head.

I end this year in the process of getting divorced, living on my own, and only seeing my children once or twice a week. I don’t currently have a job – I resigned recently following five months’ leave to battle depression, anxiety and narrowly avoid a complete breakdown.

But again, the truth is deeper than that and not near as gloomy:

  • I don’t have the 24/7 pressure and frustration from a senior corporate role hanging over me.
  • I’m no longer in a marriage that had become unhealthy and loveless (for both of us).
  • I have a greater quality of time and a more meaningful relationship with my children, significantly stronger than it was when I was barely home due to work and usually exhausted from the job and trying to stay afloat health-wise.
    My children are all healthy, happy and intelligent people who fill me with love and pride.
  • I live closer to where I’d like to spend my time appreciating more culture, people and art in all forms.
  • I’m doing a lot better with my physical health and making strong inroads with my mental health – both are more sustainable than they were a year ago.
  • I’ve met a lot of new people – new friends, some brief companions, and now an amazing special new person who really makes me feel happy and excited.
  • I’ve found a new creative interest in storytelling and comedy, and put on my first solo show during a festival, as well as done smaller gigs around Melbourne.
  • I got to be on a TV quiz show and had an absolute ball.
  • I’ve been so loved and supported by a really big group of wonderful people from my family, friendship groups and professional circles, and made a lot of new connections in fields I enjoy and want to explore.

When I read through that list of just how different – and fundamentally better! – life is for me now, I can’t help but feel fortunate and optimistic.

I’m 35 in a week or so and I have another chance to find the vocation and interests that will allow me to enjoy a better quality of life. What an opportunity this is for me as a person and as a father. I am already a much more involved and happier parent than I was, and that can only strengthen even more.

I may have fallen apart with health, my marriage may have ended, and I may have needed to walk away from a very successful job, but 2016 was not an ‘annus horribilis’ at all. Instead, I choose to see it as a year in which I both lost myself and found myself. For this to happen inside a calendar year is an extraordinary blessing.

In 2017 the new life I’m creating for myself and my kids, with the support and love of so many wonderful and genuine people, will continue to take shape and unfold. I will continue to become healthier, happier, and feel more loved and satisfied. I am a lucky person and I am also a very grateful person. Thank you to everyone who has had my back and supported me.

Shine on, beautiful diamonds xx


2 responses to “My 2016”

  1. Kate Avatar

    Keep shining Joel! Very inspiring piece. All the best for 2017 and what it may hold for you!

  2. Row Avatar

    Here’s to another evolutionary year 🙂

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