The new year can be a time of excitement and hope or frustration and despair. Mike Berry finds five ways to stay positive.
It’s a brand new year which means a brand new chance to start over. Unfortunately for many, the hopelessness they experienced in the old year spills into the new. Is there anyway to really find new hope as you step into the New Year?
2015 was a year of ups and downs for our family. We had an equal mix of successes and failures. Success-wise, we were invited to speak all over the country at foster, adoptive, leadership, and youth conferences. We literally logged almost 20,000 miles in travel from last February through this past November. Our blog received an amazing gift from Michael Hyatt and Platform University, when we were invited down to Nashville for a platform makeover which included new professional photos, and a new look to our site. Then, in October, we flew to Colorado Springs to record a radio interview with Focus On The Family.
It was a fun year with so many amazing moments.
Of course, 2015 had its fair share of trials and failures for us. A product that we had spent thousands of hours working on failed in the first few months of year. It failed to meet every expectation we had placed on it. We had to make some difficult decisions with our oldest son in regards to the residential facility he was in. Our decision actually resulted in him being farther away from home. It was excruciating, to say the least.
Countless other moments left us speechless, overwhelmed, and defeated. Too many to recount here.
To be honest, it’s easy for me to dwell on the second part of what I just shared above. The trials. In fact, even as I wrote those words, I felt the sting of failure. So much so, that it caused me to forget about everything I shared in the first paragraph. We do this, don’t we? We spend so much time dwelling on our failures that we forget about all of the wins … the success … the victories!
Even in-spite of our success, human emotion tends to trump a hopeful outlook on the new year we’re stepping into. I wish I could tell you that it was not the case for me, but it just is. Even as 2015 came to a close, I had moments where I just felt hopeless. As if 2016 had zero promise of being a better year. But as quickly as these thoughts invaded my mind, I realized something big …
I have hope!
I just needed to change my perspective a little and I would discover it. In that precise moment, I opened Evernote on my phone, my go-to app for jotting down thoughts and ideas, and began to write. I spent an hour pouring out. Before I was done, I had come up with five ways I would find hope in the new year. Here’s what I wrote along with the action step for each in italics …
1 Believe. I must believe I have hope. There is something to be said for simply believing in yourself and believing you actually have hope. Too often we allow self-doubt to win. I do this and I bet you do too. We concede that we’re hopeless instead of believing we have hope! Flipping this on its end and believing something different about ourselves is a game-changer.
2 Set. I must set hopeful goals. If you’ve paid attention to social media over the past month, then you would have noticed that online marketers come out of the woodwork around the middle of December to the beginning of January with goal-setting advice, online courses, and books they’ve written on goals. You may dismiss this, but they’re actually on to something. If you want the New Year to be different from the previous year, you must set goals. Not only set them, but stick to them! Nothing happens by chance. For the first time in my entire life, I actually sat down before the New Year and wrote out personal and professional goals for 2016. My goals included physical fitness, financial freedom, home organization, blog growth, and more. You must set them, they must be intentional, and you must stick to them. Goals help us find hope because they keep us on track.
3 Move. I must move toward hope. Finding hope often hinges on the direction you are moving. One of my favorite quotes of all time, which I’ve mentioned in past posts, is from Andy Stanley who says, “Your direction, not your intention, determines your destination.” Hope is found when you move in the direction of hope. Simply intending to do this won’t work. You must move toward it.
4 Seek. I must seek community. You and I can’t do this alone. Plain and simple. We need others around us, holding us up. We need community. Seeking this brings an immeasurable amount of hope because you have others on the journey with you, in the same trenches as you are, walking the same road as you. There’s no better way to find hope than through sharing the journey with others. This year, I’m determined to leverage the community I have around me.
5 Celebrate. I must celebrate the victories. I read somewhere recently that you should celebrate what you accomplished in the previous year as you set your goals for the new year. At first I dismissed it because I thought it was rather obvious. But then, as I read more from the author who was sharing, I realized, he was right! We don’t do enough celebrating of things we actually accomplished. Maybe it’s because we’re so fixated on our failures. That’s why I shared above, with pride, all that we accomplished in 2015. It’s easy to dwell on failures. It takes determination to celebrate the victories. Fact is, I’m proud of our victories. They fuel our fire as we step into 2016!
So the question I had for myself, and I have for you is, what? What will you and I choose to do with this? It comes down to a simple choice on our part. As I said earlier, finding hope doesn’t just happen. We don’t stumble into hopeful living by chance. We must proactively choose to have hope, in-spite of difficult life circumstances.
Here’s to 2016, and here’s to hopeful living. Remember this: you’re not alone on this journey. There is hope. We’re in this together!