This Can Be Your Year!
Are you wishing for a great new year? Are you just hoping or are you doing some planning? Are you considering your options or waiting for whatever options might come your way? What we really should be asking ourselves at the start of 2009 is what we can do to make it a great year.
We are filled with hopes and dreams and plans at the start of each new year. But a new year in itself holds no magic or power to help us be better. We are accountable for our actions. We are accountable to others. And that means we are responsible for what we do. We are free to make choices and take responsibility for what we choose.
I have always been proud of America as a “can do” nation. Our history pages are filled with examples of Americans who started with little but their own ambition and imagination and who worked hard to build successful lives. We need to preserve our “can do” legacy and protect against a temptation to rely on government programs or other well-intentioned efforts that chip away at our values of self-reliance. We never do anyone a favor by shielding them from accountability and responsibility.
People live in different circumstances and face varying temptations and obstacles. But I believe God has given us talents and free will to make choices. We all are accountable to someone. We all need to take responsibility for our actions. Accountability and responsibility can be a bit daunting to those who feel more comfortable having choices made for them. But taking responsibility for our actions actually liberates us by putting us more in control for improving our lives. You are in the driver’s seat of your life. You can navigate the road ahead and choose which ways to turn and when to stop or proceed.
All of our most common New Year’s resolutions require a choice and responsibility. The smoker needs to choose to quit and snuff out that last cigarette. A resolution to lose weight is a choice to eat a healthier diet and exercise. A better income is a choice to pursue a different career or earn a college degree.
We can wish and hope and wait to see what a new year brings. Or we can choose to be accountable for our actions and responsible for our own lives. We can blame our circumstances or choose to change them. We can hope to be in the right place at the right time or choose to put ourselves there. We can choose to focus on our doubts or on our dreams. Or, to sum it up using the title of one of my speeches, we can “Try or Cry.”
The idea that the start of a new year automatically holds the promise of a brighter future usually leads only to disappointment. The idea that you can choose the start of a new year as a time to take action can begin to create a brighter future. This year, make a choice to be accountable to all those who count on you. Be responsible for how you live today and how you might live better tomorrow. A Happy New Year is a choice you can make.
Rich DeVos is the former chairman of Gospel Communications. He is also the author of “Hope From My Heart: Ten Lessons for Life,” co-founder of Amway Corp., and owner and chairman of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.