At my sister’s home for our annual Christmas Eve traditional seven fish dinner, she posed a thought provoking question to our family. What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
We had to scribble the answer on a piece of paper, crumble the paper into a snowball, followed by a brief indoor snowball fight with everyone picking up one random snowball paper. Then we had to guess which family member wrote the answer to the question.
What are you most looking forward to in 2017?
My answer: “That it’s not 2016!!!”
I’m not proud of my answer, but everyone in my family knew it was from me. Because everyone in my family, who truly knows me, knows that 2016 was, by far, the most challenging year of my life.
The pity list is long, but here are a handful of reasons why:
My wife Jill’s father passed away.
Jill had an emergency appendectomy.
I had to hire a lawyer for the very first time because I got sued by a former business partner – spending six figures and six months fighting a baseless claim.
Jill and I had to hire a lawyer for a second time to file a restraining order.
I opened my first Jersey Mike’s Sub shop and it has been losing thousands of dollars each month.
I lost a dear friend because he found out that I voted for Donald Trump.
The list goes on. I’ve had my fair share of betrayal, sadness, depression and disappointment over the last twelve months. And it’s been easy to look at the glass as half empty.
But I also know that… every sunset is followed by a sunrise. And we can choose to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. And I have tried to remind myself of this every day – but it’s not always been easy.
Our three kids are healthy and thriving. My marriage got stronger through all this adversity. Jill and I have become close friends with our attorneys, Frank & Teresa (yes, there are attorneys out there with beautiful hearts!) And even though I’ve lost tens of thousands of dollars on my new sub shop, at least we don’t have to pay for the kids lunches anymore!
A couple years ago, I endorsed a book called My One Word by a Wilmington, NC pastor, Mike Ashcraft. Pastor Mike challenges the reader to choose one word to focus on for an entire year. Words like Giving, Forgiveness, Hope, Balance, Intentional, Healthy, Grace, Simplify, Growth, Disciplined, Joy, Gratitude and Love.
My One Word for 2017: Perspective.
Because – no matter how bad we’ve got it – someone always has it worse.
Because when we feel sorry for ourselves – we can choose to feel sorry for someone else.
And because when we face adversity – we can choose to thank God for these gifts – because they will make us stronger.
So find time to do this exercise with your family or your team at work.
Take a piece of paper and write down your 2017 One Word. Crumble it into a snowball. Have a fun snowball fight, then guess which one word each of your family members or team chose – and share why. For the next twelve months, try to live and model that one word to each of the people in your life who choose to love and follow you.
Happy New Year. I hope we all have a 2017 full of perspective!