That’s the word I’d use to describe 2009.
Not just for me personally, but for many others who found 2009 to be a less-than-easy year. You can always look back through a difficult patch in retrospect and see how much you’ve really progressed, even though it felt like you were hardly putting a dent in the path laid out before you while you went through it.
Sure, the road was marred with pit holes and steep inclines at times, but the future from where I stand has wide vistas revealing several paths that look promising, full of adventure and opportunity. Last year on New Year’s Day I tried to put an optimistic twist on all of the realities that weighed on me. I, like many others, felt that 2008 had been a truly trying year, but I had “hope” (a word I now have a greater understanding of) that things could turn out OK.
In the end there were no great miracles in 2009. There were no fairy godmothers to wave their wands and make all of the tough stuff disappear. The only way things could get better was for me to take control of the situations that plagued me and my family and turn things around. Some things are dramatically better, others turned out better than I could’ve imagined, and others are still in process of improvement. Or in other words, it’s progressing.
I find New Year’s Eve to be very cathartic and rejuvenating. I’m not one who likes to dwell on the past and I probably enjoy thinking about the possibilities of the future more than I should. New Year’s is a great time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we want to go, what has worked well and what still stands in need of improvement.
Ironically, I’m not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions. I’m a goal-oriented person, but I’ve learned that making goals that are unattainable or immeasurable just sets one up to fail. Instead, my tried-and-true way to make progress (there’s that word again) in my goals in to set out a plan. Imagine yourself embarking on a great hike as you start your goals for the year.
- Before you can climb the mountain you must pick the hike you want to take to get you to your destination. I pick one area of my life and work from there. For example, last year I worked on my personal health. I’d been plagued with issues after giving birth to my youngest child and was in a bit of denial that my medical theory of “time heals all things” was in fact not working out so well. Since my daughter was 3 ½ and I still had some major issues plaguing me I figured I better try another route.
- Chart the course and evaluate how long the hike will be, where dangerous situations may arise, and where possible side routes lie to shorten the journey and make you a safe and smart hiker. I make a plan. I begin to write down all of the problems that go into making this a big issue and then identify possible solutions to those problems. For me this meant writing down all of the health problems I was facing from my failing gall bladder to my achy tooth.
- Before you embark you gather supplies, double check your supplies, ensure you have enough water and snacks, lace up your boots, and then head out. A good checklist does the same for us in helping us reach our goals. After looking at all of the possible solutions I make an action list of things I can put on a “to-do list” that will get me closer to a solution. In my case, I began prioritizing which issues were most important and what doctors I needed to consult and what changes I need to make to take control of my health.
- To get to the top of the mountain every hiker begins the same way – by putting one foot in front of the next. Finally, I began chipping away at the to-do list so I can reach my solution. While that meant going through lots of doctors visits, dead ends, testing, and other misery it was worth it in the end. I’m now in amazing health. I feel better than ever and I’m able to move on to other areas to focus on. Consistency and diligence, although not synonymous, are equally important, like our two legs are in carrying us through the hurdles we face. These are often our sorest and our strongest muscles at the end of an exhausting journey.
Question: What is your goal for 2010? What was your goal last year?