Nearly a week has passed since our "fresh start," and many a resolution has already fallen by the wayside. Sometimes it's because we aim for too many changes at once. Sometimes it's because our hearts weren't really in it in the first place. Sometimes it's because we've bit off more than we can chew. To those of you who have made and kept a resolution, CONGRATULATIONS and keep up the good work! For those who have already cast one aside, or didn't even bother, here's an alternative to the traditional resolution that we can still do: stop sabotaging ourselves.
As the clock struck midnight on December 31st, we were not only saying goodbye to a challenging year, but to a rather challenging decade. So much has changed in the last ten years, that it's almost impossible to remember what the world was like in 1999.
Prince's anthem for partying was finally about to make sense, and it was impossible not to hear it on the radio. Most people were still listening to local radio stations then, rather than national talk shows and genre-specific music being delivered via satellite. Our local automotive companies were still the Big Three and the idea of GM declaring bankruptcy would've been met by most with total disbelief. We were torn between laughing at the fear over Y2K, and secretly preparing for it. Little did we know how real fear would become by September of 2001.
I can't even recall what it was like to get on a plane without taking my shoes off and my liquids out. More disturbingly, I watched a child interviewed yesterday who said she couldn't ever remember our nation not being at war. As sad as those revelations seem, they also bring me enormous inspiration. If I can barely remember the hope, naivety, and optimism of 1999, then maybe ten years from now, I'll no longer be able to taste the despair, angst, and pessimism that is all too prevalent around us now. That's an engaging thought, isn't it?
If this difficult time will be all but erased from our memories, what will we replace it with? What do we want the future to look like for ourselves, our families, our communities, and our state? I challenge you to think about that. What kind of future do you want to experience? Once you have a picture in your mind, then think about everything you can do to mess it up. That's right, let's spend a little time thinking about all the things we have done, are doing, or could be tempted to do, that make that future a little less bright. Then let's change those habits.
It seems to me at this time of year we spend a lot of time examining what we could be doing that we're not, and that is incredibly important. Equally important though, is looking at what damaging actions we are taking, often without even thinking, and then finding a way to stop them.
For example, when it comes to supporting ourselves, our friends, and our neighbors here in Michigan, what do we do that diminishes a brighter future? When we buy products from other countries, we take a little of that light away. When we spread the bad news we hear, while ignoring the good, life grows a little dimmer. When we fail to talk to our kids honestly about economic realities, the importance of education, and the value of money, we are diminishing their future. Taken one at a time, these may not be big things, but add them up over the course of a year, and then multiply them by every household in Michigan, and it's not so minor anymore, is it?.
So, my friends, as we look toward all those positive resolutions that we hope will brighten our future, may we also take a moment to shed the bad habits that we hardly think about. We may be surprised which action makes a faster and more lasting impact. What's in our present that we don't want in our future? What do we do to perpetuate that? What bad habits can we change?
With a little extra effort, maybe we won't even clearly recall the despair of this time by 2019. How cool would that be?
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