Saturday, January 03, 2009

What to do with a Forgettable Year...

2008 was a year that many would like to forget. The worst economic situation since the great depression and unemployment soaring while our retirement accounts and the value of our homes headed south. To add insult to injury, it was a leap year WITH an added second on the final day due to a slower earth rotation. It was a year that just didn't want to go away.

Ahhh, 2009. Fresh starts, new resolutions and goals.

But what do we do with 2008? It happened. It's part of us, part of our story. We cannot simply delete it. A few thoughts...

1. Celebrate what you can.

It couldn't be ALL bad. And like mom used to say "count your blessings". It might sound corny, but it's old wisdom that doesn't expire.

And really there were some amazing milestones, even collective ones that we can look back on and celebrate. It would be a mark of an ungrateful person who didn't celebrate even the small positives during the last year, even if they were all small positives.

2. Learn what you can.

The biggest downer of 2008 for most people was the financial crisis. It is no secret that part of the problem that got us to this point was our collective bad decisions on credit, consumerism and lack of savings. That's a recipe for disaster. The lessons are obvious. Consume less. Save more. A priority shift in our spending from disposable, consumable goods to long-lasting, altruistic investments will help all of us get over our hangover of excess.

The same look can be given to any bad situation we faced this last year. I looked at quite a few things that I needed to learn from. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but unless we learn from our past mistakes, we're not making any progress, just repeating bad habits.

3. Move on.

One of my favorite passages in scripture is from Philippians 3, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on..." It's a great lesson for all of us that the past is really a memory, or a collection of memories in our heads. No matter what happened in 2008, we can't stay there. Press on is Paul's way of saying "move on towards something better."

So goodbye 2008. You'll always be with us, but we will not dwell on you. We will not let your mistakes defeat us. We will take what we can to make 2009 better and we'll pack the rest of you up in a box and put you on a shelf to collect dust.

Happy new year.