At the tail end of last year, when we received some pretty shocking and bad news, I started thinking about the topic of this post. I didn’t intend for it to become a blog post. But I felt that actually, writing my thoughts on this might make more sense and allow me to actually reflect on what I feel makes a “good year”.

None of us are strangers to the phrase, “I’ve had a crap year!” or vice versa. There’s likely going to come a point in every year where we all realize that we’ve either had a pretty good year so far or it’s been utter crap. But WHAT is it exactly that makes it so? Although the answer to that question will likely differ for most of us, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Thinking back to 2016, I always remember that as a bad year. There were no major negative life events; no deaths, no job losses, no break-ups or anything of that sort. But I remember it being a really hard year to navigate in terms of my mental health and being so affected by the negative people around me. Not helped by the fact that I am an empath.

That whole year had me feeling like I was walking on eggshells. That I was just waiting for the next thing to happen that was going to ruin my mood or make me feel low. I felt very, very fragile during 2016. Like a breeze could have blown me over and broken me. So yes, I look back on that year with not-so-fond memories.

But back then, I also had a very different idea of what makes a “good year”. I didn’t have half of the self assurance I have now. I wasn’t connected with myself, with the Universe, with my beliefs. I was just a very different person. So not doubt, my perception of what makes a good year has changed BUT I feel like there are some fundamentals we would all agree with.

So, what do you think makes a good year?

  • Is it how much money you’ve made?
  • Is it how many holidays you’ve been on?
  • How many Instagram followers you’ve received?
  • How much weight you’ve lost?

I mean sure, these might contribute towards having a good year. I certainly don’t doubt that a good financial year will ultimately make the rest of the year easier, as you won’t have to worry about paying your bills and therefore won’t be experiencing any more stress. But last year really made me think about what makes a year a “good” year and none of these things even crossed my mind.

For me, I’d say 2021 was a good year. It wasn’t spectacular, it didn’t have fireworks, there wasn’t any big announcements or dramatic life changes. But as I rattled towards the end of yet another journey around the sun, I didn’t feel bleak or disappointed. I actually felt very content. What was it about 2021 that made me feel like that?

I connected more fully with myself – and learned to LOVE my alone time

This is a biggggg reason why I felt that 2021 was a good year. I mentioned above that I’m generally an empath and that used to make things really hard for me. Almost impossible at times. I would feel SO low and depressed about it, I rang The Samaritans on multiple occasions. But this year, I worked incredibly hard to change that.

I realised that I am also important and my feelings matter too. I spent more time doing the things I wanted to do, instead of just agreeing with everyone else. I started going places by myself; the cinema, coffee shops and I even took a full solo spa break at the beginning of December, which had a profound effect on me and how much I enjoy my alone time.

I spent more quality time with friends and family 

As well as time alone, I also found last year an amazing year for connection and friendships. Since my anxiety disorder, I haven’t had many friends. The friends I did have basically forgot about me but I’m totally done with dwelling on that now because last year brought with it some incredible people and really special friendships and connections that I’ll cherish for as long as I can.

I found a new sense of self and freedom

Following on from the first point about enjoying my alone time, I think this goes much deeper, in that I also discovered (or started to discover) who I was as a person. I realised that after years and years of dread at the thought of doing anything by myself and being far too reliant on others, that actually, I can cope pretty damn well on my own. I know who I am and what I want. And that’s amazing.

I stopped doing the sh*t I didn’t want to do

I mentioned this briefly above but this also extends to my work, too. I’ve mentioned it countless times before but there was a time – particularly in 2020 – where I was doing a LOT of stuff just because everyone else was. I was releasing a course and another eBook – because everyone was. I was trying affiliate marketing – because everyone was. And I bloody hated it.

In regards to my blog, this year was incredible. As soon as I STOPPED doing all the shit I hated and all the things everyone else was doing and focused on what I loved and wanted to do, which was content creation and working with brands, I found things improved tenfold. I hit my income goal over and over again, my followers grew and my Instagram grew!

I got more active – and found a new hobby

I’ve learned that exercise makes me feel really good and moving my body feels really good and I’ve tried to hone in on that as much as possible last year. In December, I even hired a coach which has motivated me a LOT and I also started to go swimming which I absolutely love and I always enjoy my mornings alone at the pool!

All those reasons (and more) allowed me to have a really good 2021. I didn’t go on any holidays, I didn’t make millions of pounds, I felt stressed at times, I went through an awful bout of depression in April and August, we had some devastating news, I had to go to the hospital for a colposcopy, my Dad had some health problems, my dog was ill for a while.

But despite all of those ebbs in the flow, everything else allowed me to approach these situations with more clarity than I’ve ever done before. And everything else that happened in 2021, far outweighed any of the negatives. No, I didn’t do anything spectacular but I did manage to:

Make two beautiful new friends who I think are friends for life, watch a wonderful firework display, attend numerous shows at the theatre, attend a number of race events and take my Dad, aunt and uncle along for the ride, went on a solo spa trip, had a number of 3k months with my blog, watched my boyfriend start a wonderful new job, got a garden office, my boyfriend bought his dream car, went to the zoo, met Kelvin Fletcher from Strictly Come Dancing, shot a gun, saw The Darkness, was invited to Silverstone’s Lap of Lights – and MUCH more.

So yeah, when it comes down to thinking about what makes a good year, it’s not always the most obvious things that are going to crop up. You might want to consider instead:

  • How your mental health was during the year
  • How much quality time and connection you experienced with other people
  • Did you try anything you’ve never tried before? (however big or small)
  • Did you learn from mistakes and experienced throughout the year?
  • Were you able to be present and grateful for the little things?

So tell me, what makes a good year to you? Given everything discussed, would you saw 2021 was a good year for you? How would you like to make this year better? Let me know!

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  1. Jenny, I absolutely love your reasons for why 2021 was a good year. I share some in common with you—time with family and friends (and the memories that come from that), a growing sense and reality of autonomy (from little ways to bigger ones), and the pursuit and expansion of personal creativity have, as the years have gone on, become some of the ways that I mark a good year as well. I hope we can both look back at the end of 2022 and say the same—as well as giving nods to more such wonderful ways that define true contentment! Happy late new year to you xx

  2. I’m happy to hear that 2021 was a better year for you. A good year to me is one where I am free to travel, spend time with friends and family and enjoy life. Great post!

  3. Lovely post, Jenny! I always say years.were good/okay/bad but I’ve never thought to explain WHY. Only when doing wrap-ups on my blog so I try to explain and understand myself through the process.

    Glad to hear that you had a good year with growth and positivity. Hope you have a great 2022!

  4. This is a beautiful post Jenny! I think a ‘good year’ is an ever changing thing for me. Last year was a great year for me but it was also very challenging. I’m hoping for another good year too. And I’m still giving affiliate marking a go because I neeeeddd the passive income so I can switch off a bit more haha!

    Corinne x

  5. It’s super empowering to know what you don’t want to do, and being honest with yourself before stopping doing them. And it’s also empowering to know what you WANT to, and doing those instead. But discovering them is the challenge. Great post here. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love how you said that you have stopped doing the things that you don’t want to do, good on you girl! I have made a promise to myself in 2022 to learn to say no more often. I need to remember that I can’t do everything and it’s important for me to focus on myself sometimes! x

    Lucy |

  7. I love this post and how you’ve broken down different elements to consider when thinking of whether or not a year is “good.” For me, 2021 was a fairly good year, but I definitely have areas I want to work on for 2022. Thanks for sharing this one!

    1. Thank you! Yes I think breaking it down in that way makes it easier to digest. It’s great that you know the areas you want to work on for this year – there’s always room for improvement!

  8. Wow wow WOW! Your perspective here is incredible. I absolutely love the fact that despite having so many challenges throughout your year, you were able to look back and call 2021 a good year! That takes a major mental shift that a lot of people aren’t willing to do because it means being more grateful than hateful. I don’t know you well, but I am PROUD of you for this! And feeling majorly inspired as well 🙂

  9. It’s all very subjective. What I think is a good year for me, may be a bad year or even a ‘eh’ year for you. We can’t measure ourselves against others because we all have different experiences. It’s subjective!

  10. Finding a new sense of self was a big one for me too last year and I am so grateful that for once in what seems like forever I have an outline, I have some sort of a defined purpose and thing to reach for. Last year was definitely a difficult year but it was a good one too

  11. Thank you for sharing such an honest post.

    I totally agree on the small wins and how you react to certain situations. My year wasn’t great, but I make an effort to look on the bright side, because I can’t let negative thoughts impact me anymore.

    When you suffer with mental illness, I think you eventually become resilient.

    I also agree with getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve you. Life is too short!

    1. I totally agree. I’ve had so many years of mental illness, it’s definitely changed my perspective on things. So glad to hear you’re looking at the positives, despite having a challenging year!

  12. You’ve come so far ♥
    I think a good year for me is made up of the experiences. It doesn’t have to be a holiday, it can be seeing a shooting star at night, or dodging waves on the promenade when the tide’s in, or catching a leaf as it falls from a tree in autumn.
    Happiness and my mental health definitely play a big part too.
    Cora |

  13. I LOVE this post! You’ve put into words my exact thoughts when it comes to thinking ‘what is a good year’. To me, I just want my year to be filled with good news, good health and lots of memories – but being chronically ill, that can be difficult. I really hope 2022 brings everything you hope and dream for to life. You have such a positive outlook and I really appreciate this post!

    Elle –

  14. I relate to so much of this, 2018 and 2019 were two complete skip fires of years for me, I felt low and utterly lost it was awful. Reflecting on 2021 and I found I was content, I’d never before realised how important being content and happy with myself was.
    Also, yes to not doing the things you don’t want to do!

  15. Such a thought provoking post. 2021 was an amazing year for me because for 6 months of it, I was growing my human. It made me realise how off my previous goals were – like weightloss. In previous years, I’d have plotted my successes on my weight loss/gain how I looked in outfits etc.

  16. Loved reading about your year! And I think you are right to focuse more on you and what is good for you.
    Last few years have been hard and not sure, that I would call 2021 a good year. But it was defenetly better than 2020. I took charge in some parts I had neglecting, tooked a risk and applied to school, which was on my mind for years, we found our dream home and I think after all the crap world has put on us with pandemic and all – my relationship got stronger and better and I am really grateful for that. Especially with divorce waves all around.

  17. I completely agree that it can still be a good year without a stand out moment. 2021 was a pretty stressful year for me, it had it’s ups and downs, but I bought my first home, completely renovated it and moved in. So I think that makes it a pretty good year x

  18. I am so glad you had such a good year. I also agree with not doing what everyone else is doing, it just might not be for you.
    I had a good year too, connected more with friends and family. Although I was ill from time to time, I had supportive friends and family.

    I plan to make this year much better for my blog, health and finance.

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