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Bad news, everyone.

If you are going to have a happy 2017, YOU are going to have to make it happen.

The good news is – Mike Oldfield is bringing out a new album.

The other good news is that you CAN make 2017 a great year regardless of what happens to you IF you follow one rule.

Act in complete congruence with your personal code of conduct – Act with Integrity.

All the time. For every decision. No excuses.

That does not mean being a martyr. It just means deciding that in everything you do, you will act in accordance with your personal value system, unifying principles, credo, mission or code of conduct. You know what your rules are, and you know when you break them.

There will be times when bending them is permissible because of the prevailing circumstances. Remember that while you have no control over outside events, you DO have control over how you respond. Sometimes, the response you must provide may not be the one you would like to execute because the external circumstances simply won’t allow it. When that happens, you are not ‘failing’ to live with Integrity – you are just stuck with having to do something else, something slightly less perfect. Don’t focus on things you can’t do anything about – do the best you can and move on to the next opportunity to act congruently.

This is harder than it sounds because of those external influences on our lives, but each negative event is a chance to pause and decide not to be dictated to by emotion, ideology, your past, or other people’s expectations. It is a chance to decide ‘I choose to act differently’ and then to act on that better choice. Our past, and the lessons we learned are powerful influences over our decision-making but they need not dictate our response. We tend to overlook that it was seeing things differently that made our lives better, whether it was through education, experience or bitter regret. Instead of allowing those bad things to teach us by waiting for them to happen, we can instead prepare for bad things well in advance by deciding, using our self-awareness and imagination, how we will deal with them.

I sometimes wonder why, when my parents passed away, I did not collapse in tears. I loved them both dearly, but as they passed away there was some sense of ‘that’s the way it is’ within me, and with hindsight I think it was my values system and my study of Stephen Covey’s works that meant that what was happening wasn’t disaster, but a natural event that emotional collapse wouldn’t change. I waited until the funerals to shed a tear, yet even then did so quietly. I also suspect that dealing with death in a professional capacity took the edge off dealing with their deaths because ‘death’ wasn’t something unfamiliar. I only hope that those close to me didn’t think it cold – it was just that sadness is less of a curse to me than anger!

(Stop moping.)

2016 was bloody awful. (Outside of all the saintly drug addicts, alcoholics and other celebrities that warranted angst when they passed away.) And one of the reasons that it was awful (for me) is that I allowed myself to lose control, on one occasion so badly that it really sobered me up for weeks afterwards.

I fervently intend that 2017 will be a different lesson – where I truly role model that which I believe in, and teach. Like a comedian who is privately depressed, I feel like the personal development trainer who knows his stuff but manifestly fails to perform it. And I encourage you, dear reader, to do differently.

Every time you know you should be doing something but seek out excuses – decide to do it. Whenever you’re about to do something you know undermines your better intentions – decide NOT to do it. It only takes the time needed to take the reluctant action, or to step away from the event that impedes your success. It can be less than one second. One second that lies between guilt – and higher self-esteem. But execute, then repeat.

Decide on your purpose/mission/unifying principles and work damn hard at making it easy to act in their accord by making your decisions absolutely congruent with what you believe, and accepting those moments when you can’t. That’s my intention for 2017.

Happy New Year.