“Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.” ~Pietro Aretino

Well hello.  I am looking out at a beautiful winter scene as I write this entry.  I spent much of my youth in Chicago and the winters there were often quite extreme.  I can remember one Christmas break from college, I was working at Amtrak between college semesters, and we had a nice cold snap.  For two weeks the temperature hovered near 50 below zero (Fahrenheit) and with wind chill – wow!  It turned out to be a real blessing for me.  Amtrak could not turn off the diesel locomotives, it was so cold that they could not be restarted, so I was paid overtime everyday to stay and tend things.  For a college kid, this extra money was a great gift.  I am still grateful more than 30 years later.

I was thinking about this time today when others around me were complaining about the weather.  Winter doesn’t bother me.  I know it will end.  I know it is a natural part of life and needed for all of the plants and animals that are native to this area to rest and rejuvenate.  I also know that I cannot change it and I will not allow something that I cannot change or influence to have control of my moods.  I was also thinking about how sweet spring will be after this cold winter.  So, thanks winter!

I was also thinking that every rough patch in my life, and there were some very rough patches indeed, always had a gift for me – if I was smart enough to find it.  Even looking back at the darkest times in my life, poor, getting divorced, living in the back of my car, fighting for custody of my daughter – there were gifts for me in that experience.  Now I was not smart enough to see them, those gifts, at the time.  It took years of growth and reflection before I could achieve that place.  Today, when I find myself in a rough patch, I ask myself two questions: 1) What is great about this and 2) What could be great about this if I looked at it from the right perspective?  And you know what?  There always is a gift waiting for me!

Last time I had you put your 5 driving goals on the front of three by five index cards.  Here’s why.  I want you to put the following questions on the back of the index cards:

  1. Why is this goal important to me?  Above and beyond the goal itself, what will the accomplishment of this goal allow me to do or be or experience or feel?
  2. How great will it feel when this goal is accomplished?
  3. What do I need to change about myself to ensure that I accomplish this goal?
  4. What is the most important thing that I need to do today, to move myself along the path of achieving this goal?
  5. What else can I do to make it even more certain that I will achieve this goal?
  6. What can I do to make sure that I have fun, a blast, as I work to achieve this goal?

So, add these questions to the back of the cards.  Do you have that done? Great!  Now here is the critical part.  Keep the cards with you and every single day, at least a couple of times per day, review your goals, all five of them, and then flip the card over and answer the questions.  Within a short time you will feel the difference, you will begin to find the answers you need, make the changes required and you are very likely to achieve those goals!  I know lots of more techniques, but I know of none easier and more certain at the same time.

And now a bit of fun and trivia: Some of you know that I am related to Robert Burns the Scottish Poet and that I have visited his hometown and gravesite in Scotland.  Did you know that when you sing, on New Year’s Eve, “Auld Lang Syne”you are singing one of Robert’s most beloved creations?  Since this is the last entry that will talk about New Year’s Resolutions, at least for awhile, I thought it would be fun to give you the poem/song here (sing with gusto!):

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
And surely I’ll buy mine!
And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
and days of auld lang syne?

We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since days of auld lang syne?

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared,
since days of auld lang syne?

And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give us a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
and days of auld lang syne?

Till next time…Jack

“Antisthenes says that in a certain faraway land the cold is so intense that words freeze as soon as they are uttered, and after some time then thaw and become audible, so that words spoken in winter go unheard until the next summer.” ~Plutarch, Moralia