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So, what are you doing to make this year better than last? A phrase my father drilled into my head from an early age comes to mind. “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” Maybe not the best grammar, but certainly a true statement.

If you want this year to be different, you must do something differently or the result will be the same.

For many, the new year is a time of reflection. What did you do last year that you want to change? What is it you didn’t do last year that you’d like to do this year? Steve Jobs said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Close your eyes and ask, what is it your heart and intuition are telling you to do?

Dr. Paul McKenna made a remarkable study of highly successful people around the world and discovered that success and happiness are not accidents that happen to some people and not others. They are created by specific ways of thinking and acting. In almost all cases, the successful and happiest among us began their journey by simply deciding to think and act differently.

I am convinced that the first decision that must be made is how we think. We must always look at life through optimistic eyes. Last week I quoted Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The quote continued using similar examples that show there is good and bad, positive and negative, and success and failure ongoing all over the world. Optimists recognize both but choose to focus on the good, the positive and the successful. Optimists choose to believe in the positive while avoiding the negative. I believe almost all success is preceded by a belief that success is coming. Think about it: If you do not believe you will succeed, why would you even try? And if you don’t try, what are your chances of success?

What we choose to focus upon, we make happen.

Socrates said, “The secret to change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” For the purpose of this column, I’ll apply this wisdom by saying the secret to success and happiness is to focus all your energy on your positive goal, not on worrying about the negative obstacles. When the negatives become our focus, they are easily transformed into excuses for failure. Focus and believe what we want to happen, not on what we dread could happen.

Notice I’m saying we, not you? I’m no different. I also see the negatives in our lives and obstacles on our paths. I recognize the difficulties in life. I suffer them just as you do. I also need changes in my life and have goals for a happier 2019. I believe in and am confident in my coming success. I am focused on the path that is taking me to my desired destination. Are you?

There is a story told … a man is descending from a mountain to the valley below and passes and old wise man sitting under a tree.

“Where are you going?” the wise man asks.

“I’m going down into the valley,” the traveler responds with a scowl upon his face.

“How was the mountain?” asked the wise man.

“Terrible!” the traveler responds angrily. “The weather was cold, the food was terrible, my bed uncomfortable and the people were unfriendly!”

The unhappy traveler then asks, “How is it in the valley?”

“I think you will find it to be the same,” the wise man responds.

Later that same day, another traveler is descending upon the same path.

“Where are you going?” asked the wise man.

The traveler enthusiastically responds with a wide smile. “I’m headed to the valley.”

“How was the mountain?” the wise man asks.

“It was perfect!” the traveler exclaims. “The weather was beautiful, the food delicious, the most comfortable bed I’ve ever enjoyed, and the people are warm and friendly!”

The traveler then asks the wise man, “How is the valley?”

The wise man smiles. “I think you will find it to be the same.”

Look for the good in all circumstances and you will find what you seek. Choose optimism as a guiding principle in your 2019.

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Gary W. Moore is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com.

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