Quality of Life: Take action to make next year a better one

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Quality of LifeI have been thinking about drought lately. Imagine that.

Like many of you, I watched my flowers, grass and trees die a slow death over the past few months. I did what I could, by watering them as much as possible, but mostly it was to no avail. Hopefully, next year will be better.

This made me think about how many times we look at our lives and say, “hopefully, next year will be better,” and yet, we do nothing to lay the groundwork necessary to make that happen. It’s true that up to a point, much of what happens in our lives is out of our control. But, while there are events in life that we cannot prevent, we can take actions that will help us to be better positioned to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

There are no “magic bullets” that make life better. Not long ago, there was a trend, or fad, outlined in a popular book that claimed that by merely keeping positive thoughts in your mind, you could use the law of attraction to bring things you want into your life. The claim was that positive thought alone could transform your life in concrete terms. The book included stories, for example, of individuals who held thoughts of riches in their minds and money suddenly fell into their laps. It is an interesting theory, and I do believe that keeping a positive attitude can have a significant impact on a person’s life, but it takes preparation and work to reap rewards.

Hopefully, next year will be better. If you want next year to be better, you need to take steps to prepare for that improvement.

I’m not saying that the law of attraction doesn’t work – in a way, it can. But thinking by itself won’t result in the transformation you seek. You need to take action. For example, when you were a child, did you ever play near a pond or a lake? Did you throw a rock into the water and watch the ripples that it created? The water was still, unmoving – until you threw the rock. Life is similar. If you want to change your life, thinking about it without concurrent action isn’t going to change anything. You have to throw the rock.

Let’s say you want to lose weight. You can think about losing weight all day long, but unless you eat less and move more, nothing is going to happen. Let’s say you want to get more clients. You can imagine yourself as being successful. That is a great thing to do. But if imagining is all you do and you don’t do anything to position yourself to meet new people, to let others know about your practice area, or to make yourself known as being available to do work, that success is not going to materialize. It’s not that I don’t believe in miracles, but sometimes you need to make your own miracles.

Hopefully, next year will be better. What is it that you want to be better next year? Clarify those things that you want to improve. Be specific. Vague wishes that life will get better generally won’t result in any appreciable difference in your circumstances. After you identify what you want to change, think of the steps you could take to facilitate that change. Yes, by all means, use positive imagery to motivate yourself, but take action as well. Who do you know whom you could talk to about this particular change? Who could introduce you to other people who could help you? What do you need to learn to take the next step toward making the change? Throw the rock. Watch the ripples turn into waves.

Maybe you are experiencing a spiritual drought of your own, and you hope that by next year you can find some nourishment and refreshment for your emotional life. Like any other situation, just hoping for the best without taking any kind of action usually is not the best way to combat a famine of the soul.

If you feel that something is missing in your life, analyze why this might be. Take an inventory of your daily activities. Are you making time to take care of yourself or are you only working at your job and taking care of others? Do you take time to meditate, reflect or pray? All of these actions can help to feed your soul. Are you lonely? Then ponder what you could do to interact with more people. Join an organization, take up a hobby that requires a group, or if you like to play sports, join a team. Or, conversely, is your spiritual drought caused by too many people in your life? Do you just need some time for yourself? Do you give yourself time just to “be?” If not, this might be the cause of any feelings of depletion or lack. Try to build some “me time” into your life.

Hopefully, next year will be better. I hope it is – for you and for me. And in terms of my garden, next year I’m planting a cactus, just in case.•


Jonna Kane MacDougall, an Indianapolis attorney, is assistant dean for external affairs and alumni relations at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and a former law school career services director. A professional career/life coach, MacDougall can be contacted at 317-775-1804 or via email at The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.


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  1. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues