Are you going to be happier or harpier this new year?

Are you going to be happier or harpier this new year?

Happy New Year!

I’ve just arrived back in the US after a very full and fun 6 weeks Down Under. It was great to be there but I have to say, it is always nice to get home; back to my own bed, high speed internet, my closet (vs. my suitcase) and my work (yes, believe it or not, I’ve missed it!)

So here we are in January. Wow. with each passing year the months seem to roll into one another faster and faster. Which is why I believe it is so important, as one year ends and another begins, to take some time to think about what we want to do and be in the year ahead.

With all the economic turmoil of the last few months, many people – from those in DC to those in the Australian bush — are feeling rather anxious about the year ahead and wondering if they should be tucking money under the mattress like dear old nana once did. Certainly the media love to have us quaking in our boots but while there is sure to be some more gloom on the economic horizon, I don’t think it’s all doom. The media just know that fearful people buy a lot more newsapers and watch more TV than those who aren’t. It’s good business to breed it! But I reckon it’s times like this that instead of being fearful, we should turn off the TV, avoid the headlines and instead look for the opportunities that surround us to grow, learn and prosper. As the saying goes, fortune favors the bold.

Just last Friday night I was at a wedding in Melbourne where I caught up with a bunch of old friends from my days working at BP Oil. Some I hadn’t seen for over a decade. We got to talking about where our careers and lives have taken us over the intervening period and what struck me was how everyone spoke positively about their hard times, from being made redundant in corporate restructures to their relationship breakdowns and unplanned pregnancies. It reminded me how so often we get consumed by a problem in the moment that, if we could just trust in ourselves a bit more fully, we’d be able to handle our current challenges with less angst, knowing that in the long run, we will rise above them and our life will be all the better for the experience.

You only have to watch 20 minutes of headline news to know there’s a lot of crap happening in the world. While none of us can stop the bombing in the Gaza strip nor fix the economy with a quick wave of the wand, we can each take responsibility for our own attitude in the face of our individual challenges. As I remember studying back in psychology classes, focus on that which you can influence rather than on what you can’t. After all, it’s from the tough times when things don’t go as we’d like that we learn the most, develop our muscles for life and evolve as human beings.

Right now I’m gonna focus on having a strong coffee to get me through the haze of jetlag. I’m also going to commit, right here, right now, that in 2009 I’m not going to harp on, whinge and whine about how the downturn is affecting business nor about anything that is beyond my ability to control. No siree. I’m gonna walk my own talk and focus my conversations, my aspirations and my energy on things I can influence and do rather than on what I can’t. I’m also going to be even more bold in challenging people like you to step up to the plate and take on some bigger challenges and to dare to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

And what about you? What are you committed to in 2009? Regardless of whether or not you made yourself a resolution on December 31st, or whether or not you’ve already fallen off the bandwagon, I invite you to think about who you are going to be in the year that lies ahead that will have you dealing with your challenges– whether in paying off your mortgage, leading your team or resolving conflict in your marriage – more successfully, more assertively and more boldly!

Now, for that coffee. . .