For me, 2016 was the “Year of Joy.”

Choosing a word for the year is a practice I started a couple of years ago, and I decided this time last year to focus on joy in the upcoming year.

This practice helps me to focus in on my desired theme for the year. I practice it, meditate on it, cultivate it, draw it to me, and am more aware of and grateful for where I already have it in my life.

Adopting the theme of joy for 2016 was a tactic to help me mold my own business and shape my life into things that I enjoy. And it did just what I wanted it to.


1 – Saying ‘yes’ to projects that brought me joy, and ‘no’ to those that don’t. Paying attention to what I want as opposed to what others expect of me, meaning I would only be doing things that I really wanted to do.

2 – Completing projects. Like client work, passion projects, and things we’ve been wanting to do around the house, to give me the joyous feeling of completion, and allowing me to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

3 – Finding my place in my business(es). I believe in making money doing what you love, and as 2015 was winding down I found myself doing things because they were expected (see #1 above) instead of really doing what I wanted in my businesses. I used the theme to help me find a new place for myself in the work that I do.

4 – Focusing on my family and personal relationships, and on personal development. I dove into self-care this year. I took a lot of time off to spend with my family. I traveled a lot, which is really good for my soul. I made friend relationships a priority. I invested in experiences that would bring more joy into my life and into my relationships, and those investments will pay off for years to come.

I experienced all of these things during the year, but that’s not all.


1 – There’s a big difference between the-joy-of-right-now and doing-what-you-have-to-do-to-meet-a-greater-joy. It’s important to weigh instant gratification with the long game, and it made my dance with joy all the more intricate.

2 – Focusing on the joy of others can bring you vast amounts of joy. I learned this in focusing on helping my own team love their jobs, in giving to causes that I believe in, and in being hell-bent on creating things that would help others accomplish things in their own lives. This brings me great joy.

3 – I already have vast amounts of joy in my life, the key is to take a moment to notice it. My journey for joy ended up being less about weighing options and doing more, and more about pausing to soak in what’s already happening and what I already have.

4 – Joy starts within. I could travel grouchy or happily. I could create with bitterness or with cheer. I could be bored with an outing or go at it with gusto. Joy is a mindset that can be applied to anything, anytime, anywhere, making you feel more joyful no matter where you find yourself. The trick is choosing.

As I wrap up my year of joy, I’m so grateful for the experience this year has brought me in identifying, appreciating, and cultivating joy. And as I wrap up this year, I am more joyful now than when I started, and not so much because my circumstances have changed, but because I can appreciate where I am all the more.

And now, time for a new year.

Emily is the co-host of Being Boss Podcast, helping creative entrepreneurs learn how to run their own creative business with the tough love they need to hear to do the work. She also owns Almanac Supply Co., a maker and retail business focused on creating and curating items to help you live closely with nature, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee.