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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