The Year in Gratitude – A New Perspective on the Retrospective

2010 was a long and arduous year for most people, including me.  Entering December, I found myself thinking back over the last twelve months and wanting to write a retrospective of things that were significant to me.   But then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”  Next, I thought about doing a New Year’s Resolution piece about how we should set goals for ourselves in 2011.  But then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone do that?” 

Finding myself in this quandary about what I wanted to say about 2010 or 2011 or something, I went for a run. 

During my trudging (a more apt description of what I’m actually doing out there), I reflected on what occurred over the last year.  It was not an easy year for me.  Our online kayaking business – Outdoorplay – was taking shots to the head because the retail customer was cutting back on non-essential purchases.  My consulting business – QuietSpacing® – was dramatically affected by the elimination of training and retreat funding from most 2010 budgets. 

Both ships started the year near the shoals with unfavorable wind conditions!  But with an extra large helping of spit and vigor, we clawed and dug our way through the dark months (January through July) until a shimmer of light began to appear on the horizon at mid-year.  Since then, things have steadily improved for both companies and we appear to have survived the worst of the economic storm known as the Great Recession.

As I rounded the corner at the far end of my running route, I realized that, in fact, I had a lot to be thankful for in this second decade as an entrepreneur.  The epiphany that occurred right there on Fiore Bella was that I would craft a thank you of sorts to all the people and things that inspired gratitude in me over the last year.  And, so, this is The Year in Gratitude.

Family & Friends

Everyone says it but it will never be said enough – family and friends deserve the biggest helping of thanks.  They put up with you (me!) every day. They listen and lend support.  They call you out when you deserve it and steer you back to the better path.  Without family and friends, our lives would truly be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” (Thomas Hobbes).

I am grateful for all the friends and family that allowed me to be grumpy, stressed out, and generally a pain in the *** to live with and be around when things were at their lowest.  Without their ongoing support, the dark months would have been truly unbearable.  And their presence in my life continues to bring rewards as we move into 2011.

Colleagues & Clients

Everyone I work with suffered through similar difficulties over the last year.  Budgets were cut, jobs were at risk, incomes fluctuated, and business survival was not assured.  Yet, whenever I had the pleasure of talking or working with a colleague or client, optimism was the order of the day.  Maybe I’m just lucky?  Maybe I just get to be around people who see all glasses as half full?  Maybe everyone does if they choose to? 

Regardless of the reason, I am deeply thankful for the people at Outdoorplay and all my QuietSpacing® clients.  As an entrepreneur, these two groups of people provide me a way to live the life I strive to live.  That fact is never forgotten.

Father Time & Mother Nature

This may seem like an odd inclusion in a list of things for which I’m thankful.  However, for those of you who know me, you know that I believe Time is the most important non-renewal resource we have and that, at the end of life, the one thing we will always wish is that we had more Time.  Thus, we need to make the most of the Time we have and one way to remember that is to be grateful for the Time we’ve already had.  Memories are the currency of life and it is Time that provides us opportunities to make those memories.

Years ago, I read Deepak Chopra’s “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.”  The one recommendation I remember from the book was to spend a half an hour in nature every day.  This may seem silly in today’s frenetic world, but the reality is that I truly enjoy just being outside – in nature – whenever possible. Whether I am traversing a ridge in North Central Oregon with nothing but high desert in my view or I am walking the streets of Richmond, VA, on the way to a client engagement, I love being outside.  Many of my greatest ideas come when I’m just outside enjoying what Mother Nature has to offer.

To Father Time and Mother Nature I tip my hat in gratitude for what you offer us every day.

Onward into the Sun

Though I may still succumb to the urge to do a “set your goals” missive in the near future, I can rest easy knowing that I took a new approach on looking back over the last year.  There are still many things in the world that need fixing, but I, for one, will not dwell on the negative in the face of all the things for which I am grateful.

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