Today is the second day of 2014 and for some reason the number 18 is figuring prominently in my life:
*This is the first time I've been unemployed at the start of a new year in 18 years. After a total of almost 24 years with the same company, I left my job on December 13th. I decided it was time to move on. At 52 years of age, I may be taking a big chance. Time will tell. But I have faith that everything will work out. And I'm very lucky to have a wife who completely supports my decision. (When I said to her, "We might end up homeless," her response was, "There's no one I'd rather be homeless with." Yes, I am a lucky man.)
*In two days, my younger son will turn 18. I can't believe it and I have no idea where the time has gone. My "baby" is going to be an adult.
*Lastly, my older son is 18 months clean and sober today. Pardon my French, but holy shit! The sober days keep adding up for him and turning into sober months. And 18 months means a year-and-a-half. It's been a long road for the entire family, but I thank the Lord above that I am able to say my son has been clean for 18 months. I couldn't be any more proud or grateful. Seriously. Whenever I look back on where he was and where he is now--and where I was and where I am now--I cry tears of happiness.
Okay. Enough of the 18 thing. I just found it kind of strange. Onto 2014...
I'm not a big "New Year's resolution" guy, but I have been thinking a lot about the coming year and what it could bring. In fact, I woke up in the middle of the night last night and came up with six goals for 2014.
Right about now I can hear a lot of people saying to themselves, "But wait. A 'goal' is the same as a 'resolution,' isn't it?" That's a great question, but the answer--in my opinion--is no.
A resolution is, by definition, "A firm decision to do or not do something." As I see it, with a resolution you either succeed or you fail. It's an absolute. If you resolve to quit smoking and 10 days into the new year you light up a cigarette, you're done. You did not stick to your resolution.
A goal, on the other hand, is "The object of a person's ambition or effort; an aim or desired result." A goal is not an absolute. It's something you strive for. You choose something you want to do or accomplish, you see the end result, and you take steps to get there. If you don't reach your goal--at least in theory--you'll have made significant steps toward getting there. "Progress, not perfection" is perfectly acceptable.
So, with that being said, here are the six goals I have set for myself for 2014:
1. KEEP LIVING IN THE MOMENT
Last year was a great year for me as far as living in the moment goes, but I think I can do an even better job this year. I will strive to appreciate every single day for what it is, without dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Life. One day at a time. It's how it should be lived.
2. START WORKING FOR "HEROES IN RECOVERY" AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE
In 2014 I will have the honor of becoming affiliated with an incredible organization called Heroes in Recovery. I intend to bust my butt for them and do everything I possibly can to help break the stigma associated with substance abuse and mental health disorders. (More details to come!)
3. FIND A JOB I'M PASSIONATE ABOUT
It took a long time for me to figure it out, but life's too short to spend the majority of your time working at a job you're not crazy about. I've decided it's not all about money. It's about enjoying what you do and feeling fulfilled. Setting out to find a job I'm truly passionate about at my age might be nuts. But that doesn't mean I can't try. What I'd really love to do is help parents who are struggling with their child's addiction. It's a long shot, I know. But never say never.
4. SEE MY YOUNGER SON GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL IN JUNE
As I've mentioned before, my younger son has struggled with depression and ADHD. The public school in our hometown failed him miserably his freshman and sophomore years. I thank my lucky stars that we found the Leelanau School, a strength-based experiential boarding high school for intelligent kids who simply learn differently. It's made such a huge difference in our son's life. So come Saturday, June 7th--God willin' and the creek don't rise--I plan on sitting outside on the lawn of the school's beautiful campus and watching my "baby" graduate. (My older son didn't graduate from high school--he got his GED instead--so I will more than likely bawl my eyes out come June 7th.)
5. CONTINUE TO HELP OTHERS AS MUCH AS I CAN
My wife and I are "givers" and try to help people as best we can. Whether it's counseling parents who are going through an addiction nightmare with their child or donating money to worthy causes, we love to "pay it forward." We are far from wealthy, but we are grateful for what we do have and don't mind sharing with those who are less fortunate when we can. I truly believe that you reap what you sow and I will continue to try and help others in whatever way I can.
6. TRAVEL MORE
In a perfect world, I'd love to be able to travel as much as I wanted. The only foreign country I've ever been to is Canada. And there are so many places in the United States that I am dying to see. But, as we all know, the world isn't perfect. Nevertheless, in 2014 I am going to try and get me and my better half to a few more places we haven't been to. One place that's already on our schedule is New Castle, Delaware, where we will attend the Inaugural atTAcK addiction 5K race on Saturday, March 1st. It's not a short drive, but it's an event I refuse to miss. atTAcK addiction is a great organization that was started by parents who lost their beautiful boy to drugs and I want to support them. (Rest in peace, Tyler Armstrong Keister. Your family is helping kick addiction's ass.)
So there you have it. Those are the goals I've mapped out for myself for 2014. I have 363 days in front of me and I plan on spending those days trying to achieve all six things I listed above; or at least making significant strides in the right direction. After all, they're goals...not resolutions.
"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." --Yogi Berra