Happy New Year! We’ve watched the ball drop in Time 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 2011. Now that the celebrations have ceased, it’s time to pack away our decorations and prepare for the days ahead. I wonder: 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 successful realities? The beginning of a new year offers a great time to assess the past and plan for our future. But before we jump too quickly into setting plans and making to-do lists, perhaps we should begin by seeking God’s guidance to help us establish 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. It’s first about being and then about doing. Once we have that vision clearly in mind, then we can set our goals and create a plan to help us stay on course toward creating the life we want to live. Those steps are valuable in helping us chart our course. Yet, along side 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 intentions and take the steps we think appropriate, but we just don’t know what life will hold. So, how can we approach this new year amidst that uncertainty? My own life experiences and my work with clients have taught me that we need to set goals, develop 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 faith in God’s promises to guide my steps and provide for my needs. That means I’ll have to approach each day with a positive mindset as I respond to whatever blessings and challenges 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 along side 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, let’s take time now to sharpen our focus, set goals, and develop plans that will help us live our best lives. Then let’s commit to 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. Most importantly, let’s ask Him for guidance in each of these steps. With His help, we can make this a great year; I can’t wait to see what He has planned! Nancy Williams, LPC, maintains a counseling, life coaching, and consulting practice and is the author of Secrets to Parenting Your Adult Child. Send questions or comments to her at www.nancywilliams.net.

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