Catching up with an old friend this past weekend, talking about the New Year and how 2017 is shaping up, he launched into a rant about 2016. "2016 was so brutal, dear Lord I was just so happy to get out of that year and into the next. 2016 terrorized me. Constant anxiety. People were just a*holes. It sucked. Was so happy for 2017." And on and on and on.
As I listened to him go, I was struck by how many times I'd heard or read some version of this as the year came to a close. Either online, on Facebook, at the airport, or just in the grocery line, there was a song that went basically like this, "This year sucked, thank God it's over, we'll be saved by next year. Phew! Oh ya! This year blew! This next year I'm going to be new!" (I'm not a song writer, but you get my gist.)
The death of celebrities was blamed on 2016. Bad health? 2016. High tension and stress? 2016. Political nightmares? 2016. Financial pressures? 2016. Getting fired? 2016. Not getting a book deal? 2016. That break up? Oh ya, THAT break up? 2016. Even Mariah's Times Square sound check issue, at the very last minute of 2016? 2016!
You name it, 2016 did some bad stuff to people.
One of my favorites I read on Facebook in December was something like this "Oh, just had a package stolen off my patio, there you go givin' it out again 2016. You about done with me yet?"
"2016" took it hard. So much so that in some ways it felt like it became its own entity -- a scapegoat for anything that didn't feel good. For some, it often became a great (albeit sometimes unintentional) hiding place for ditching accountability, emotional authenticity, and productive learning for making "next, instead" better.
As I thought about all of this (it took like 2 seconds), my friend said something even more powerful...
"And now, 2017 is shaping up to be s**t as well. Go figure. F**k me." Really.
I love my friend.
Enough to share this...
"George (not really named George), it wasn't 2016's fault. And it's not going to be 2017's fault either if you don't like your year. There's a common denominator here, and he's really handsome, can we explore?"
We're the common denominator. After all, everywhere we go, there we are.
This will either liberate, empower, and delight you, or it will piss you off.
Why is it great? Because you have control over you. You choose how to Show Up.
We choose. Every day, every minute, every interaction, every action... We choose. Even not choosing is a choice.
Here are some of the places we can choose and have control over:
- Our presence and breath
- Our mindset and regard for others
- Our awareness of our role in the situation we're creating
- Our authorship of the story we're crafting and the evidence we gather to support it
- Being impeccable with our word (and ourselves in general)
- How we take care of ourselves
- How we learn from "it"
- How we let it grow us or wreck us (or a little bit of both)
- How we get back up and how we stand (and even the choice to be in the arena in the first place)
- How we find gratitude (even when it's really really hard)
Basically, we are at choice with how we choose to Show Up.
Try it. The next time you're in conflict or dealing with something tense, play with contracting your breath, focusing on how bad it is, and how horrible this person is OR play with expanding your breath, focusing on what you can learn from it, what the gift might be, and how this person might actually be great. How can you appreciate what IS?
Shift your frame, change the game.
When we blame others, we hide out, we lose the power. We give it away. We miss the learning. We miss the healthy grief and support we may truly need. We miss ourselves.
So the magic questions become:
If 2016 was a bummer, or 2017 is shaping up to be one, how did you, or are you, contributing to it? How does the way you Show Up impact your outcomes, your relationships, or the very things you delight in or complain about? Who will you become this year? What will you learn? How will you be better? What tone will you set? What will you choose?
I believe this is where the gold is. And that this is where we get to make pain, discomfort, and disappointment into magical worthy scar tissue that makes us even better, stronger, more real, and more effective at serving those around us.
We're a month into the new year, what are you creating? Where can you be more impeccable with yourself?
Reboot, intend, and Show Up. /axc
This article first appeared on Inc.com on January 16, 2017.