2020 Your Opportunity?

About this time of year, I read a lot of posts from colleagues or listen to them as they talk about the year ahead. What I read and hear is brimming confidence and hope that, “This is going to be my year!”

Well, I wonder about that. I mean, what do they mean? Generally they mean that things are going to be different; they plan on taking advantage of opportunities as they come up, really commit to something they want (and this generally in turn means self-improvement of a fashion).

However, I don’t see the required change in behaviour much of the time; oh there’s short bursts of it yes, but not the sustained, repetitive actions that in sequence result in real change. These false starts are sparked by initial good intentions, but without being repeated, no pattern of new behaviour comes about; the very behaviours that cumulatively form new reputations, nurture commitment and enthusiasm to keep going. Without a change in behaviour on a consistent basis, the, “This is my year!” rant fizzles out and is replaced by a defeated-sounding, Same old, same old.”

Opportunities you see are around us every day no matter what day of the year the calendar proclaims it to be. Sure January 1st is a good time to mentally adjust our thinking. However, the first of January is an external cue not an internal one. The internal cue is that voice that you know is there deep inside you that whispers all the time what it is you want most. It’s so palpable and real too isn’t it? I mean you know what you want most; whether it’s losing weight, a new job, the courage to tell someone just how much you love them, ask for a promotion, etc.

That internal voice is no louder on January 1st than it is the rest of the year. It’s just that the flipping of the calendar gives us permission to pay that voice a little bit more attention. And with people all around us making new year’s resolutions, that collective energy makes it easier for us to proclaim our own good intentions to change something and feel universally accepted and supported. In short, it’s easier to make a resolution to do something when others are doing the same thing.

However, there are those who believe that the slightest little slip up puts the whole resolution bit in jeopardy. So you have a slice of cake when out with friends and your inner voice that’s been at you to lose weight is drowned out by another voice that says, “Failure! Told you so!” And there goes that unblemished resolve to not eat fatty foods that taste great but detract from your goal. Well might as well pack in the, ‘lose weight’ resolution for another 12 month’s and try again. Nonsense! Don’t be so hard on yourself. Just start again.

Opportunities come up every day and many in any given day. I suspect however that many people fail to see opportunities for what they are until they pass. I include myself in this number too. On a small scale, we all have the opporunity to get up, walk over to a colleague and compliment them. Perhaps it’s something they’ve achieved at work or in their personal life. Or perhaps it’s the risk they took that you compliment them on rather than the result. (This by the way is one of the things the enlightened recognize and do more than others).

That doesn’t sound like a big opportunity does it? I mean choosing to get up, go over and say something nice to a colleague. Big deal you might think. Do it once and it’s noteworthy for it’s uniqueness. Do it a second time and a third time and it’s establishing itself as a new pattern. Continue with a pattern and you build a reputation. This is true whether it’s complimenting a coworker, visiting the gym, reading a book, going to concerts or anything in fact.

It’s the small every day choices we make that in the larger context we look back on and say we either seized an opportunity or let it slip past. Could we have lost that weight last year or three years ago? Sure we could have, but we missed those opportunities out of the choices we made. However, it’s 2020. On this day we could make the decision to seize an opportunity and resolve to commit to some new behaviours. Be kinder, be more forgiving, go a day without dessert – then maybe another, drive the speed limit rather than 20 km’s above it.

I’ve resolved to ask of three people how I might be better. I’ve yet to decide who the three will be, but I’m wanting to choose people who know me well. Why three? It’s manageable and until I hear what they have to say, I’ve no idea the effort required to be better will take to sustain such change over time. We’ll have to see…

Consider yourself one this day as you read. What opportunities are you hoping for and looking forward to in this coming year? To bring them about, what are you doing this month, this week and this day? For most opportunities require us to do things that put us in position to take advantage of them as they arise.

Cheers to you, to me; to us! For we are in this together.


A Final Post For 2013

All over this planet, people will be welcoming in the new year with high hopes for 2014 and what it might bring. And during that time, some will reflect back on the passing year – in this case 2013 – what was good and bad, made them happy or sad, what’s been accomplished and what’s as yet incomplete.

There may have been milestones such as in my own case for example, when my daughter got married on January 5th – almost a full year ago now. Definitely a positive highlight, as was my own 30th wedding anniversary with my wife Janine. Funny to think that in talking with friends and co-workers, 30 years of marriage ranks us as unusually long, even with people of our own age. For others, second marriages or living together for periods of time before marrying, etc. all seem to have made our 30 years together something to savour.

And I can say I close off 2013 with good health, having had nothing worse than a brief cold and a singular weekend with a stiff back after having got the house ready for winter at the near end of the Fall. Like many others, I could do to lose a few pounds I admit, and to acknowledge my own shortcomings, I’ve felt that way the last few years without seemingly done much about it. I suppose that makes me normal in a way, as we often have goals we want to reach that go unmet.

Does it not come down then to determining what is it we wish to achieve and how motivated we truly are to realize those goals and make progress towards achieving the desired results? Be it a loss of weight, a new job, the purchase of a home or proposing marriage to someone we love; it comes down to how bad we want it. Surely if we want something bad enough, we should be motivated then to take the necessary steps to make a plan that will result in a goal realized.

So let’s look at you then, and let’s look at things from the view of the employment picture. Are you working at present in a job that you do well, love and are paid well for? These three components tend to be most often cited when people talk of job satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment. To repeat, a job or career you perform well in, truly love doing, and are well compensated for doing. Many people have only one or two of these things; love what they do and do it well but the pay is poor for example. Or perhaps dislike what they do but do it extremely well and aren’t paid well.

If it’s important to you, (and this is the critical question) you will either take steps to correct the situation, (which is necessary to change the outcome), or you will do nothing and your situation will perpetuate long into 2014 and beyond. What would your future self prefer you do here as you stand on the very edge of 2014?

Are you entirely unemployed? If you are out of work, I run the risk of simplifying things but are you happy not working or do you want to be working? There are many who really are happiest not working. Maybe taking a year or two prior to official retirement to just coast into that period. Maybe the unemployment has been for an extended period and you’ve got used to living below what you once thought you saw as not possible. Some do find unemployment liberating. For others, unemployment means no boss to answer to, no schedule to have to bow to, no deadlines and pressures that go with them.

But if working is important to you, this is a singular time of year to sponge away the past, recapture your enthusiasm for a structured job search, and update your skills and become more marketable. Depending upon your own situation of course, you may have a large unemployment gap or a small one, out-of-date or current references, know what you want to do or not and have or need the education and skills to compete.

One good thing for your self-esteem is to realize that there isn’t a single person on the entire planet who has training and education in 2014 on their resume. Any course you take or certificate you obtain early in 2014 will help you stand out from others who have 2013 or earlier on their resume. In other words, we’re all lined up at the same starting line and no one has the inside track. The longer you wait to take training and get going, the further behind you’ll be, and the more ground you’ll have to make up in the Summer or Fall of 2014.

Make appointments with people who can help you out. See your Doctor and get a checkup, a Career Advisor to help determine some direction, a Financial Planner to get your future stabilized financially so you can do the things you want without regret. See an Employment Counsellor to get your resume up-to-date and marketing you at your best. Talk with previous co-workers, employers and friends, being sure to get their titles and contact information so you have references ready when needed. Put some effort into the man or woman in the mirror – be it clothing or grooming.

“2014 is MY year. I will make this year count for something. I not only WANT to work, I NEED to work. I owe it to MYSELF to treat myself better!”