(Estimated reading time 3 minutes)
What does it mean to have a good year?
Previously, my answer to the question would have been entirely different than it is now. I might have said it has to do with happiness, minimizing stress, being healthy, achieving goals and having time for those who matter in your life. These things are still important to me, but what if you’re sick, stressed out or in terrible circumstances? Does having a good year rest on things we potentially have no control over? The question rises to the surface – what makes it good?
This past year has been one of the more difficult of my life. There was significant stress, loss and pain. There were substantial stress-related health issues to deal with. My work plans disintegrated in front of me. So, was it a good year? According to my previous definition, it was not. It certainly didn’t feel good. It felt hard. Perspective changes everything, and as I observe from where I am currently standing, I realize that, yes, it was hard, but it was also good.
Here is what made it good.
1. The challenges brought what I value into laser-sharp focus and knowing what matters has helped me shape my present in a more purposeful way.
2. The struggles gave me lots of opportunity for courage. We can use our anger and frustration to fuel courageous change. “Anger is the prelude to courage” Eric Hoffer.
3. The less than ideal circumstances gave me the chance to realize my resourcefulness, drive and resilience. This kind of building of your capacity and self confidence is invaluable. It gives hope for future difficulties that may arise and my ability to rise above them.
4. Most significantly, it made me realize that I always have a choice and that is powerful.
Here’s how you can make it a good year no matter what’s going on.
1. Ask yourself what your struggles are showing you about what you value. Knowing what is important will help you move towards a more fulfilling life. Your next steps will come into focus.
2. Move towards what you value. Choose courage, and you will become courageous. Developing personal attributes, like courage, will open possibilities in your present and your future that you do not currently see.
3. Celebrate the small steps! Finding things to appreciate even in the most challenging circumstances may sound insignificant, but it is not.
4. Realise you are not powerless; you always have a choice. Find it.
Developing these personal attributes – focus, courage, drive, ingenuity and resilience – are part of what made my past year a positive one. Realizing that I always have a choice in my response to present circumstances is what took the year from good to great.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor Frankl