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The Pursuit of Happiness: A New Year, A New Page, and A Story to Share.
Excellence In America ^ | 1/01/2008 | Jason Bradley

Posted on 01/01/2008 4:28:52 PM PST by ExcellenceInAmericacom

    What more can I say, other than what a wonderful Christmas vacation!  I was surrounded by family, everyone had the Christmas spirit, and other than the fact it went by way too fast it was an exceptional visit. 

    So now here we are, it’s a new year, 2008.  Many people consider this a magical time of the year.  The time to start over, start fresh, and initiate the goals that we put off all of 2007, you know the ones where you kept saying “I think I’ll _______ (fill in the blank) next year”.  Well as of today, it is next year.

    You know the great thing about life and the fact that we live in America?  We have the ability to start over.  It doesn’t have to be “next year”.  It can be tomorrow, today, in 10 minutes, or right now.

    There really are no limits to what we (including you) can accomplish.  We have been blessed to be born in the United States of America.  We can be what we want to be or become what we allow ourselves to become.  The twist to this blessing is… we can change at any time we want to, we can become the exact opposite of what we’ve allowed ourselves to become.

    So you’re asking… “what’s your point?”, “yeah where are you going with this?”, “what are you talking about?”.   Here’s the answer:  The only limitation standing in the way of you (or me, or your friend, or anybody) achieving your goals is yourself and what you tell yourself.

    Think of something that you want or dream about for yourself.  Is it a new career?, A business venture?, A new love?, A college education?, Owning a home?, Stability?, or A boat, a vacation, or new way of living?

You know what it is that you want, but perhaps you don’t know why you don’t have it.  Certainly there are some limitations to what we can reach for (I.E. becoming famous: acting, radio, professional sports, etc.), but for the most part anything that you desire is obtainable.

    I want to tell you a story about a woman who overcame adversity, someone who is probably similar to someone you know, or is even similar to yourself.  For the sake of  privacy we’ll call her Ann.

    When Ann was 16 years old she was quite the partier.  She went to high school for the social life and life was good.  Then one summer Ann was given a surprise, you know the kind of surprise that every father considers his worst nightmare.  Ann was pregnant.  One month before her 17th birthday she had her son.  She dropped out of high school and attended night school.  Her GPA at the time was around 1.90 and she did eventually earned her GED.  The father of the child graduated high school and left for the military.

    She married a good man a few years later and they had three more children together.  She worked as a secretary and he was a truck driver.  Together they did what they could for their kids. 

    Over the years the partying continued.  Ann was an alcoholic and continued to drink at least every weekend (sometimes every night) for almost 20 years.  They had a hard life, four kids, and little money.   Not too long ago Ann received some news from her doctor.  She was told that she had lung cancer.  This was the same cancer that took her mother’s life not but just a few years prior.  The family was devastated, she had been through so much for so long… this was the last thing that Ann and her family needed.  Thank God the doctors were able to remove the cancer, and Ann was able to recover.

    Now I’m not telling you a story about cancer, I’m telling you a story about change, because Ann changed after her nightmare with cancer.  She quit smoking and she quit drinking after 20 years.  She realized how short life really is.  She changed the way she lived and the way she loved.  She found religion and was a new person.  Things were finally starting to look good for her and her husband’s life.  He finally owned his own truck, all four of the kids were in college, and she was recovering very well.  At 42 years old, Ann decided her life was far from over.  You know what she did?  Ann decided that she wanted to change her life: get an education, go back to school, and start a new career.

    Can you imagine a 42 year old, low income, recovering alcoholic, cancer surviving woman of four children, with a GPA of 1.9 getting into college?  Ann was asking herself some of the same questions that you’re asking yourself right now.

    But that didn’t stop her.  She spoke to her family about what she wanted.  As you can imagine she received both encouragement from some family and some family told her she shouldn’t do it.  I’m sure no one meant to stop her from following her dreams and even if what they said sounded that way, they meant the best for her in their advice.  It’s tough to overcome the doubts that others tell you, and even harder to overcome the doubts you tell yourself.

    Ann decided that she was going to go through with it, so she went to her doctor and told him that she wanted to go to school and then work as a nurse when she graduates.   After the consultation, her doctor told her she would be fine to go to school and work as a nurse.  She was very motivated at this point.  She overcame the doubts (her family’s as well as her own) and now she had to convince a university to give her a chance.

    It wasn’t easy to get into school for Ann.  It was a process that she could have easily given up on.  Isn’t that what most people do?  When there is a challenge they take the easy way.  It’s always easier to give up.  It’s the challenge itself that makes the accomplishment that much more to be proud of.

    We’re very proud of Ann, because she pushed through every obstacle.  She took the time to answer the University’s questions, she took the time to write the letter they requested, she took the initiative to follow up at every step, and she did everything she could to get into the school that held the keys to a new career in nursing.  Because of Ann’s persistence, motivation, passion, and belief in herself she is right now, today, a full time student at that university.  She works hard every day and college is certainly not easy for her.  You know she just received her first transcript…; 2 B’s and 3 C’s, not too shabby for someone who’s been out of school for 20+ years.  Ann is following her dreams, she made a decision to take action, and her dreams are becoming more and more real every day.

    Many of you know someone like Ann, or it’s possible her life has been very similar to your own.  Ann could have told herself she can’t handle college work.  She could have procrastinated year after year telling herself “One day I’m going to go to college”, worse yet she could have dismissed the whole idea and regretted the fact that she never went to college in the first place, telling herself “I should have gone to college”.  In fact, prior to her going to college I have heard her tell me she wished she would have went to college.  It seemed like an impossible goal to her.

    We live in the greatest country in the world.  In America, we have the ability to make the impossible become real, just like Ann did (and is doing right now).  Are there thoughts that you yourself consider impossible?  What would happen if you turned those thoughts into goals?  What would you do if you were faced with challenges to make those goals real?  Would you face them or would you turn around and go home?

    It’s always easier to give up and go home, but when you do that you end up exactly where you are and not where you want to be.  Accomplishment is hard work.  Ann’s story isn’t over, it’s a work in progress.  Just like all of us, our own story is a work in progress.  We just turned a new page, from 2007 to 2008.

    My point is to help some of my readers (if I have any...) understand that “the plot” in our own lives (stories) can change at any point, just like the plot of a novel can change on any page, anywhere on that page.  No matter where you are in your life, whether you’re a high school drop out, a recovering alcoholic, living at home with your parents at 35, or a single parent struggling to pay the rent, you have the ability to change your life any day, month, hour, or minute that you decide to do so.  Every day is an opportunity to start fresh, start over – No matter what has happened in your past.

    It’s the first day of the New Year, why not take the time to set goals for yourself today?  If you’ve already set goals ask yourself where you are in pursuing them?  What can you do to get closer?  What’s the next step?

    Setting goals takes some time and some thinking. Set some small goals and one or two big goals.  What is it that you want? Do you want to quit smoking?  Do you want to go back to school like Ann?  Do you want to lose weight?  Do you just want to be a better parent?  Do you want to find a better job?  Do you want to get to know your Dad/Mom, sister(s), and/or brother(s) better?  Do you want to make more money?  Do you just want a job that you like?  Do you want to find who you are?  Do you want to find religion?

1.  Write them down (it’s corny, but writing them down is very important).
2.  Research how to make it happen.  Ask people who have done it before you.  What’s the first step?  Then what?
3.  Finally hold yourself accountable (this is where the work is).
4.  Don’t let others stand in your way and don’t let yourself hold you back.  You can do and become whatever it is you want to do or become.  You have to learn how, you have to ask others how they did it, you have to plan to do it, and you’ll have to constantly adjust your plan in your pursuit.
5.  The key is being persistent, not quitting, and believing you can do it (another corny part, but you have to believe that you can do it).

    There is nothing wrong with being patient, sometimes things don’t happen immediately (in fact they rarely do), but don’t procrastinate.

When you do nothing… nothing happens.

    An inspiring movie that I recommend everyone watch, if you haven’t already (or if you have watch it again), is “The Pursuit of Happyness” with Will Smith.  Like Ann’s story, this is another true story about facing adversity.

One of my favorite quotes is one from the “Declaration of Independence”:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” 

    This was such an important point, the right to pursue your dreams and become as successful as you desire, to become as happy as you wish to pursue, that our founding fathers put it into the Declaration of Independence.

    Whatever your dreams and goals are, you have an obligation to yourself to pursue them. It doesn’t matter if you were born rich or poor, we are all created equal.  You can be who you want to be, and become what you want to become.  You have that right, as an American.  You have the control to take action and take your life wherever you dream to take it.  You also have the option to do nothing, to keep procrastinating, and to continue regretting what you wished you had done (even though there is nothing keeping from doing it now).

    In your story, will 2008 be the page where your plot changes direction for the better?  When you decide to pursue your goals, will you quit when something stands in your way?  It’s your story, you’re the author, and you can do anything.  You can change your story tomorrow, tonight, right now.

Best Wishes & Happy New Year!

Jason Bradley

TOPICS: Chit/Chat; Education; Hobbies; Miscellaneous
KEYWORDS: change; family; goals; happynewyear; personal

1 posted on 01/01/2008 4:28:54 PM PST by ExcellenceInAmericacom
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To: ExcellenceInAmericacom

A very nice story and how true this quote is;

“When you do nothing… nothing happens.”

2 posted on 01/01/2008 5:53:11 PM PST by potlatch ("Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we might as well dance!")
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