Every year gets harder. I remember a friend saying this to me around ten years ago after, at about this time of year, I’d quipped that the year ending had been particularly challenging. In the example being discussed it was certainly true, but was it really true of every year? I wasn’t sure, but as a concept it gave me a lens with which to look at future years.
Ten years into the future, I suspect I’m in a position to offer commentary to the me-of-ten-years-ago on the whole thing, and my observation since is an emphatic I Hope So.
Sure, it’s possible to disengage, go live on our own somewhere and subsist, to never seek new challenges, fear change and avoid it. And from that point of view we might say that my friend’s statement clearly doesn’t apply to Every year.
But maybe it should.
If we’re cruising on autopilot, we’re not changed, we’re not growing, and we’re not able to take advantage of new and exciting possibilities. We’re stagnating, and perhaps like a hypothetical aircraft left on autopilot while its pilot takes a nap, eventually we find ourselves out of fuel and on an unavoidable final glide towards The End. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that life’s too valuable to nap through.
But then, challenges are challenging, right? Sometimes they’re not of our making, and events outside our control make for new objectives, provide new fears, and force us to step up and face the new day when we’d rather pull ourselves further under the covers. And if the challenges are of our own making, if we’re pushing ourselves continually into new and difficult situations, then we can also become self critical in the face of real or potential failure: what possessed us with the tenacity to attempt something so bold?
And yet, whether of our own making or others, facing our fears, trying the impossible, and picking ourselves up after failure for another try is the stuff life is made of. We’re not immutable and neither is the world we live in.
So face the music, apply for the new job, and above all learn – to face the challenge, breathe deeply, stand tall; to salsa, skydive, motorcycle, fly.
And at the end of the year, if we can say it was our most difficult year yet, I think we should give ourselves a high five. Mission accomplished: Life being Lived.