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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Reflections on the New Year

“Though we cannot totally change our nature, we may in great measure correct it by reflection and philosophy. . .”- Philip Stanhope, British Statesman and Man of Letters
We have arrived at the end of another year. I hope that this year was as wonderful a year for you, full of growth and happiness, as it was for me. It is this time of year when we tend to assess the year behind us and reflect a bit on our hopes and aspirations for the year before us, for many this process is given a name, New Year’s Resolutions. At least I hope you will; I do, and I am encouraging you in the strongest terms to do so as well.
Without this reflection how do you expect to benefit from your mistakes and allow your blessings to buoy you when the seas get rough? You have purchased your experience with your failures, so use them! I am suggesting that you complete this reflection in a formal way, writing down the results so you can remember them and put a plan into action to capitalize upon them.
The challenge in successfully using a New Year’s Resolution to move you forward toward a goal in a meaningful way is in the planning stage. If you plan properly for success, you are much more likely to find success. Allow me to provide some suggestions to help you plan for success:
1. Spend an hour or two, a whole day if you can get it, by yourself in reflection. Ask yourself how the past year went, what could have gone better and what you most want for the New Year.
2. Write the results of your reflection down. Yes, write it down, it is very important to see it in front of you in stark black and white.
3. Begin to make a plan of how to get where your dreams and passions are leading you. You say you don’t have dreams or passions? The Swiss poet and philosopher Henri-Frederic Amiel instructs, “Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.”
4. Write the plan down. Yes, for goodness sakes, writing it down is important. You will feel more committed and you will have something concrete to remind you of your commitment.
5. Show those who care for you, your New Year’s plan for success. For one thing they will help hold you accountable, for another they may know someone who can help you be successful.
6. Celebrate your successes, even the small ones. When you have a setback examine what went wrong and how you might fix it for the future and begin again.
7. Live life with passion! The German philosopher George Hegel asserted, “Nothing great has been and nothing great can be accomplished without passion.” It has been my experience that not only is Hegel correct, life is bland, colorless and wholly without purpose without some great passion.
I wish to send you into the New Year to reflect upon the words of Denis Diderot, the French philosopher, “Only passions, and great passions, can raise the soul to great things. Without them there is no sublimity, either in morals or in creativity. Art returns to infancy, and virtue becomes small- minded.” For 2008, I wish for you to live fully, laugh much, and love widely and often.
Tagline: Mark Altman is a speaker and leadership consultant with the Altman Leadership Center. He has graduate work in Marriage and Family Counseling and is working on a PhD in Leadership studies at Gonzaga University. He is happy to speak or provide a workshop for your organization and can be reached at

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