Resolutions for the “new” year would have been made and in some cases, may already have been discarded.
Typically, we might resolve to:
Give up smoking
Reduce time spent on the smartphone or the internet
Spend more time with friends and family
Take up a new hobby or indulge in an interest
The more ambitious among us might go for one or more of these goals. Over the years I too have made such pledges. But, I always also had a ready excuse for not “being able to” follow through and bailed out after lasting a week or two. It is so easy to apportion the blame for our own failings to other people or sources.
A few months ago, I was invited to speak to a graduating class of internationally educated professionals seeking to advance their careers in Canada in their respective fields of expertise. It was an eclectic class of very smart, intelligent young ladies and men from diverse countries and cultures. During the course of our free-flowing, open discussions we talked about the importance of networking, focus, commitment and continued learning etc. I was very impressed by the group.
Later, we broke up in smaller, more intimate groups to chat one on one over coffee. It was then that a few of them started to express their individual doubts about all the options we had discussed collectively, earlier. Each of these “naysayers” in the room told me that they had tried most of what we had discussed, but without any luck. They were either angry or dejected, saying that the “system” was loaded against them or that diversity was hindering their efforts to connect with prospective “mainstream” employers etc. It became readily apparent that not a single one of them was willing to take ownership of their own actions choosing instead to blame circumstances and other factors for their lack of success.
After exhausting various options, I asked them to sit back and consider the scenario where I am planning a trip to Ottawa. Google informs me that the drive from Toronto by car would take around 5 hours and I key in the destination coordinates in my car’s GPS and am ready to go. Cruising along on the highway, enjoying music and passing scenic distractions, I notice Kingston coming up and on sudden impulse, take the exit. I drive past the local attractions and meander through the University campus, enjoying a leisurely lunch at a patio. Then, I look at my watch. It has been over five hours since I left Toronto and Ottawa is still a few hours away! What has caused this lapse? I had “focused” and was “committed” to getting to Ottawa, so what happened? As in this case, I might be drawn to distractions in real life; whether another lucrative job, a more attractive potential life partner, career opportunities with untold wealth in the Middle East or something that we hanker for, from our past life experience. Resolutions fall by the wayside and eventually, when we stop to take stock of our bearings, it seems to us that life has passed us by and we have missed out on achieving our intended goal.
Conversely, the “successful” candidates in the room shared their stories and how they had worked by the book and got what they had intended. Their resolve was resolute, it seemed.
A couple of days ago I received a clipping from a friend. Like many other similar life stories that move us deeply, this is a blog by a 27 years old woman, who recently died after suffering from bone cancer. An extract from Holly’s writing:
“It’s a strange thing to realize and accept your mortality at 26 years young. It’s just one of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; Until the unexpected happens. I always imagined myself growing old, wrinkled and grey- most likely caused by the beautiful family (lots of kiddies) I planned on building with the love of my life. I want that so bad it hurts….”
“That’s the thing about life; It is fragile, precious and unpredictable and each day is a gift, not a given right…”
“…I’m 27 now. I don’t want to go. I love my life. I am happy.. I owe that to my loved ones. But the control is out of my hands…… look at how blue the sky is and how green the trees are; It is so beautiful. Think how lucky you are to be able to do just that – breathe.”
“….. I’m watching my body waste away right before my eyes with nothing I can do about it and all I wish for now is that I could have just one more Birthday or Christmas with my family, or just one more day with my partner and dog. Just one more.”
“…Try just enjoying and being in moments rather than capturing them through the screen of your phone. Life isn’t meant to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo.. enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else….”
So, this year I resolved simply to live out each day, in a state of gratitude for all that I am able to enjoy.