A Toast To 2018
Well here we are – January 3, 2018: the new year has begun, the tree has been dismantled, Auld Lang Syne has been sung (although, as usual, the lyrics terribly botched), the hangover has receded, and the time has come to get serious.
Over the past few days I’ve heard several people comment about how pleased they are to be rid of 2017.
“A terrible year,” some lamented. “The worst year ever,” others said.
And, my favourite, “I hope 2017 never comes back to haunt us.”
How can a year be terrible? What makes it the worst ever? When was the last time a year ever returned to haunt us?
I know recent years have posed a challenge for many people. With the collapse of oil prices thousands of jobs were lost and the ongoing recession has certainly created challenging hardship for many.
Difficulties, For Sure
Not for a moment am I downplaying how stressful economic uncertainty can be. There are, however, alternatives to stressful living and the ability to set the stress aside, regardless of circumstances, resides within each of us.
I have an acquaintance who, like so many others, suddenly found himself among the ranks of the unemployed. This man has a Master’s degree in engineering, yet could not find a new employer.
He applied for positions around the country and collected a thick manuscript worth of rejection letters.
One time he mentioned to me that with his savings dwindling, he was concerned about losing his home – a terrifying prospect.
And yet never once did I hear a word of complaint from him. Nor did I ever see him without a smile and an expression that said, “I will survive this, and I will prosper.”
Three weeks ago, with the holiday season looming and the prospects of a giftless Christmas for his kids, he called me to share great news.
He found a job. Having a Master’s degree played no role in this job for it is not a requirement to have one to work as a nightshift security guard on a construction site and yet he could not have been more excited had he been hired as the CEO of a major company.
He used this auspicious occasion to introduce a new tradition to his family. For each of the almost 700 days he has been without a job, he has bounded out of bed each morning, gathered his family around the table and assured them that “today’s the day I’m going to get the perfect job and were all going to go out for dinner to celebrate.”
Day after day he recited this mantra and never once did his wife or kids ever question why they still were not going out for a celebratory dinner.
The family morning ritual ended with each person proudly and happily stating one thing they were grateful for and it soon became apparent, even to his very young children, that despite the hardship they were facing, they have so much more going for them than against them.
Then the great day arrived, and, with great excitement, he told his kids to go and dress up with their best clothes as the family was going out for a mega celebration.
He knows the battle is not over. There will be a struggle to get by on a wage that is but a mere fraction of what he had previously earned, but, to him, this is a starting point from which he will catapult himself back to the career of his dreams.
A Toast to 2018
He lives his life by The Habit of Always Seeking the Positive and his children are learning to do the same.
They have made one change though, to the family tradition. Their morning ritual is no longer applicable, and as 2017 was, by his description, “the greatest personal growth year of my life,” he now sees 2018 is the year of his family’s launch to greatness.
Consequently, their breakfast ritual now ends with a toast. They raise their glasses and in unison chant “To 2018.” And this will be their habit until December 31.
His remarkable mindset has kept his family together, his sanity intact, depression at bay and any self-doubt as being AWOL.
His determination and refusal to give up or give in to relentless pressure is not only inspirational, but also a poignant reminder that there is no such thing as “a terrible year, the worst year ever or, I hope 2017 never comes back to haunt us.”
2017 was just a year.
We can’t influence what this year will bring but we have absolute, undeniable control over how we are impacted and what we do. And with those two immutable strengths, we can choose to make this year, 2018, our best year regardless.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.