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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 whatsnextcoaching@gmail.com. The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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