Today the door closes on 2007. For some it’s been a good year. For others, the best they can say is in short order it will be over. But for the majority of us 2007, like most other years, was a mixture of both. And how we view it largely depends on how we view its events or what events dominated our thoughts and time (more so than the actual events themselves).
Recognizing that offers us an opportunity to look back with a little distance (thus, objectivity) and with the gems of wisdom we’ve gained from all we’ve added to our personal treasure chests this entire year, and that reflection brings us to our biggest opportunity:
#1 We are in a position to review, discern what we want to change and what we want to keep in our lives.
Change, we all know, takes us outside our known comfort zone. It is often accompanied by conflict or challenges. It’s a pain. But so too is considering yourself on a treadmill you don’t like and not doing the work necessary to get off the thing.
Change is one part recognition, one part analysis, one part action.
You can’t get off the treadmill if you don’t realize you’re on it–and unfulfilled or discontent with it as it is.
You can’t make wise corrections to better your situation so that you are fulfilled and content without exploring the challenge (what has you unhappy/unfulfilled/discontent) and focusing on potential solutions.
You can recognize all the challenges in the world and deliberate on them for a lifetime, but if you don’t actually implement a potential solution, you’re not changing a thing to better your situation. And that means next New Year’s Eve you’ll be sitting right where you are, complaining about the same things you complained about this year (and perhaps the year before, and the one before that). You must act.
In short, if it’s broken, fix it.
You might have to explore a few solutions before hitting on the “perfect” one for you. Some will try one thing, not like the result, and consider that failure. That’s okay–provided they try something else–a different potential solution.
Many give up–and remain discontent. Those who don’t, keep exploring and find the right potential solution for them. In a very real sense, they fail their way to success.
Now we’ve been taught that failure is a bad thing. But think about it. If you gain something–and knowing what you don’t want/what doesn’t work is every bit as important as what does work and you do want–then that’s growth, and it is success. Not where you want to be, but closer. You know now these things that won’t/don’t work.
If you’ve been told repeatedly that failure is bad, then consider the previous statement your personal license to fail. Go ahead and just fail your way to success.
Before the door closes on 2007, review it. Nurture the good and cull the bad.
Be aware that culling isn’t always painless or welcome (others often don’t like for us to change) but in this, each of us must do what we feel is right. And we must remember that doing the right thing is easy when it costs you nothing. When it exacts a dear price, however, is when we gain the most personal growth. And regardless of others’ reactions, it is we who will be responsible for what we do and do not do, we who will be accountable, and we who will bear the fruits and/or the burdens.
This, by the way, isn’t a cut and run license. This is an evaluate and cull that which is no longer constructive and/or a positive influence in helping you shape your life so that you fulfill your purpose. Doing less leaves you only with regret and no one deserves only regret. Neither does anyone skate away from the consequences of their actions–that’s immutable, universal law, and well worth remembering.
#2 Tie up loose ends.
New beginnings require we put endings to bed. It’s hard to focus on new ventures when we’re dealing with remnants of the old. Some overlap is inevitable, but the less of the old we have to contend with in the time where our focus should be on the new, the better our odds of not only improving our position and making headway on the new, the better our odds are of building momentum.
Momentum is a powerful force. We put down a foundation. Upon it, we build. If one section is framed, we’re limited to going further on that one section. If two or three sections are framed, then expansion is possible on all. Momentum builds momentum. So the less time we spend in the past (deal with the old and get it done) the more time we have to invest in the future (welcome the new).
So do what you can to clear the decks–and that includes accepting what you can’t change. Don’t repress it, accept it. And then press on.
#3 Answer this question: WHAT DO YOU WANT?
No one can have everything they want, but they can have what they want most. What do you want most?
Answer it. Not in general terms, but in very specific ones. Then answer this question: WHY DO YOU WANT IT AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO GET IT?
In defining why you want something, you often clarify and intensify your determination. You also often develop seeds for your plan of action.
The key here is to remember another immutable law that deals with free will. You are free to seek what you will. But you are not free to impose your will on any other. These questions should be about you. Not about anyone else. How you can improve yourself, your life, your future.
If you’re constantly replaying old unworthiness tapes, or you spend a lot of time focusing on what’s wrong in your life or with everyone else, you’re on the wrong track. Respect others and yourself and recognize that you’re not accomplishing a thing that will benefit you.
If you need more on this, go into the library (www.vickihinze.com) and read or re-read WINDSHIELDS AND REARVIEW MIRRORS.
Bottom line: Look within. Your answers and benefits lie there.
#4 Set a goal. Make a plan.
I won’t go into specifics here, but if you haven’t read WHY WE NEED A PLAN, I strongly suggest that you do. It’s in my writer’s library under that title (www.vickihinze.com).
Far too many slide day-to-day, going through the motions of living without investing in anything about which they’re excited or passionate. The problem with doing this is that at best it’s a poor substitution for a life. Don’t get so caught up in busy-ness that you don’t even remember your wishes, hopes or dreams. And if you have forgotten them, pull them out of cold storage, dust them off and see if they’re still your wishes, hopes and dreams or if it’s time for an update–or even an overhaul.
Upshot: Don’t drift, design.
#5 Resolve to try at least one new thing.
If you do, you might find a new passion. If you don’t, you won’t. You might be missing something that could mean a great deal to you–and the saddest thing about that, is you might never know it.
I’m reminded here of a story I heard some time ago about a guy caught in a flood. On three different occasions help came: a neighbor, a camel and a guy in a boat. On each of these occasions the man stranded in the rising flood waters refused help, saying he was waiting on God to come help him. Well, the stranded guy drowned, hooked up with his Maker, and boy he was ticked. He demanded to know why God hadn’t come. God replied that he’d sent three different people to help. What exactly did the guy want?
The moral of the story: Sometimes we’re so fixed on what we think opportunity looks like that we fail to recognize it when it comes. Of course, that won’t happen to you if you’re open to new things…
#6 Adopt an attitude of gratitude.
Of all I’ve written in this post, this is by far the most important. It’s easy to fall into a hotbed of negativity or into a bad situation that sucks us dry, sows more seeds of discontent, or steals so much of our energy and focus that we grow inextricably mired in it and we lose sight of what’s good and going right in our lives.
When that happens, we react emotionally and that’s just not a good idea because our emotions aren’t reliable. We need balance to function with stability.
We all have challenges. No one escapes them. But if we focus only on the challenges (versus solutions to them and other things) then we’re doomed to a very rocky, very unstable road and that is definitely not in our best interests–or in anyone else’s.
To gain more balance–which leads to more stable, less dramatic (and melodramatic) events that inflict trauma on ourselves (and often on unsuspecting others)–we need only counter what’s wrong with what’s right. Counter the challenges with the blessings. See the good and be grateful for it.
Sometimes that’s easier than others. I’m reminded of something Joel Osteen once said about gratitude. There are times when the best you can do is to be grateful you’re not like x. (He pointed mid-air and said like him/her–I don’t recall which. But the intent in what he said fits situations and events as well as people.) Be grateful for little things as well as the big ones.
We often learn most from the things we tag as “bad.” We all have something to celebrate.
#7 Where you focus, you follow.
Before you act, you think. And if you allow your thoughts to run wild and unchecked, you diminish the chances of them being in your best interest. Anyone, given enough time, can rationalize and reason themselves right out of good sense–and rob themselves of accomplishments and even their destinies.
If you spend your time focused on the right things, good and constructive things, you’ll be purpose-driven and accomplish. If you spend your time focused on the wrong things, on negative or destructive things, you’ll follow that path and purpose and accomplishment will elude you.
You choose which you’ll do. You choose upon what you focus and give your energy–how you spend your life. That’s as it should be since you’re responsible for it and you will live with the joy or regret of your choices.
These things, in my humble opinion, are worthy of New Year’s Eve’s opportunities. Ones that recognize, analyze and act to position a person for powerful, meaningful personal growth. And for that, and so much more, I am grateful.
©2008, Vicki Hinze