Happy New Year! We’ve watched the ball drop in Times Square, offered well wishes to friends and family, and enjoyed our annual serving of black-eyed peas, all in an attempt to properly usher in 2009. Now that the celebrations have ceased, the questions are before us: what will this new year hold? Will we find our own measure of success? What steps should we take to prepare; and how can we stay on course during the year so we’ll turn our resolutions into realities? If we’re going to successfully move through this new year, we need to begin by establishing a focus – a sense of direction about how we want our lives to unfold and how we want to relate to the world around us. Once we have that vision clearly in mind, then we need a plan. A guide to help us stay on course toward reaching our goals. We’ll also need a measure of flexibility to adapt to changes, especially in these challenging, unsettled times. Those steps are valuable in helping us chart our course; yet, alongside our excitement, sits a measure of uncertainty as we realize we really don’t know what this new year will hold. A look back at the past reminds us how quickly changes come along that take our lives in unexpected directions, sometimes spinning quickly, sometimes slowing down, sometimes turning us upside down. We can have the best of intentions and take all the steps we think we should, but we just don’t know what life will hold. So, how do we approach this new year amid that uncertainty? My own life experiences and my work with clients have taught me that we need to set our goals, develop our plans, then take our steps one day at a time, all while paying careful attention to the attitude we choose to embrace. It’s our attitude that will play a vital role in how we’ll move through this new year, beginning right now. We can look forward with eager anticipation to a positive year filled with opportunities and blessings. We can moan with dread about the challenges and struggles that may likely cross our paths. Or we can let our minds race with anxious thoughts about the unknown. The truth is this: we don’t always have a choice about the circumstances that will unfold in our lives, but we do have a choice in the attitude we’ll take on as we move through whatever comes along. I want to choose optimism wrapped in a blanket of hope. That means I’ll have to approach each day with a positive mindset – one of hopefulness and anticipation of what God has in store for me, ready to respond to whatever life holds. Of course, that comes easily when things are going well. It’s when life seems unfair, when disappointments and hurts come along, when relationships struggle, when fears creep in, that we have to search deep within to find that optimism. To hold tightly to the truth that God does love us, that He has a plan for our lives, and that He has promised to walk alongside us on our life journey. To remember that if we trust in Him, He’ll not only see us through each day but He’ll pour out His love to us and draw us closer to Him, celebrating with us in our joys and wiping our tears in the sorrows. So, if we are to make this year a really great one, we need a clear perspective on the kind of lives we want to live – the legacy we want to build. We need to set goals and develop plans that will move us forward in that direction. As we do so, we must take deliberate steps each day to cultivate a positive attitude – one of optimism and expectancy that God has some great things in store for us in the days ahead. A year filled with hope and anticipation. Most importantly, we must look to Him for guidance in each of these steps. With God’s help, we can make this a great year; and I can’t wait to see what He has planned! Nancy Williams, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor with a counseling, coaching and consulting practice in Kingwood. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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