This time of the year always brings tears to my eyes.
About 9 years ago, my beloved father passed on during this time. A couple of years before his death, he had become miserable at a place he called his job. He couldn’t quit his job and pursue the life he wanted to because he had a moral obligation to take care of us, his kids, he would say.
I remember vividly how he would burn the midnight oil studying a new degree so he could eventually become the man he had always wanted to become. Sadly, he died before he got that degree. Thinking about his life now, I am filled with so much courage and hope in pursuing the things that my heart desires, such that every year I ask myself the following questions:
1. What happened to me this year?
A great majority of us get into the habit of letting life happen to us. We never plan or choose the life that we want, almost as if life must somehow know what we want. A person who doesn’t plan his or her life ends up living a haphazard life of insignificance.
A life of significance doesn’t necessarily mean fame, money or titles, it means a life that matters to you. How many of us are blown just about anywhere by the wind on a daily basis without any say? How many of us refuse to follow the status quo to pursue the life that we want?
In asking myself what happened to me this year, I get to evaluate all the things that I wanted versus all the things that I didn’t want, but had no control over. Not everything that happens to us is our fault, but how we react to everything is entirely our fault.
2. What is the reality of my life?
In other words, am I happier or miserable now than I was when the year begun? And if I am happy, what brought me this happiness? Was it my thought process? Was it my attitude? Was is the goals I have achieved? And if I am more miserable now than I was in the beginning of the year, what went wrong? Could I have prevented it from happening? And if I couldn’t, was I willing to learn from it and prepare myself better for next time?
The truth is, horrible things happen to both good and bad people all the time, but if good people chose to be defined by what happens to them, then I’m afraid that is the end of their goodness. What happens to us should not define us, it should make us learn and understand ourselves better and in so doing, we are able to develop the courage we need to push forward.
3. Did I achieve my goals?
I believe every individual should have short, medium and long term goals. The goals should not necessarily be rigid, they should be modified and adjusted as you develop yourself.
If you do not have goals, it can be rather difficult to tell if you are growing forward or failing. Goals propel us forward; they give us something to look forward to. If we do not have goals, then what are we living for?
4. Where am I going?
When you understand where you’ve been and where you are, you’re able to understand where you are going. There is nothing worse than a life without direction, it’s frustrating.
If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you plan your days? How do you plan your finances? How do plan your time? None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, but if we have an idea of where we would like to be, then we can make our today matter and our hope for tomorrow worth thinking about.