Michelle Obama recently commented that America is a country “without hope”. But I question whether, as we turn towards 2017, any of us can truly live without hope. We can’t afford to focus on the pessimistic view if we truly wish for things not to be as cataclysmic as many people fear. The question is, do we really know what we do want the outcomes to be – for ourselves, our families, countries and the world? Without a vision of a positive future we cannot create it.
It is easy to feel anxious, certainly. We sit at a pivotal moment where all kinds of world situations look as if they could go horribly wrong. Trump and Brexit have shaken up the norms to which we have become accustomed. There is the concerning potential that the clock will be turned back on the Cold War, European alliances, American diplomacy, the balance of power, the position of women’s equality. There have been the tragic events in Berlin, Nice, Paris, Syria, Iraq and the Middle East. Mass migration across Europe. It’s been a year of upheaval.
But we can get caught too easily into what Ekhart Tolle describes as our ‘pain body’ – the part of us that is attracted to negativity and pain. It is a part that the media exploits outrageously – always focusing on the negative dramas of any situation that is occurring in the globe, working on our fear. Even charities have to reinforce negative messages in order to encourage us to give more generously. But fear doesn’t help us stay healthy, nor does it help us to be happy – and remaining as happy as possible on a daily basis is surely a reasonable goal for us all as we head into the new year.
Here I am encouraging you to vision what you really would like to happen next year and beyond. What would you like for yourself as an individual in 2017? What would you like for your family, your work, your community? What would you like for the environment, for your country, for the world in general? What might that look like? How might some of the headlines run? What would you be seeing, feeling, hearing?
In my experience in my own life and as a coach I have seen visualisation work over and over again. People’s goals don’t always happen in the precise format that they want nor within the timescale that they hope for – but virtually always when goals are shaped and action taken towards them I have found that many of those goals are achieved. Indeed, David and I were pleased recently when we looked back over the new year jottings and goals we had created together over the last six years and realized that many of them had come to fruition. So I know that at some stage during December 31st we shall be working out what we wish for ourselves, our families and the world in 2017.
When it comes to world goals it can seem as if we can’t influence the outcomes. And yet if we all spend our time in the negative conversations I have experienced in 2016 focusing on the worst outcomes of Trump, Putin, Brexit, Turkey or Syria then we start to make it a reality before it is even happening. This wastes our precious moment of here and now as we are interrupting our peace of mind with speculative thoughts of catastrophe. No entrepreneur would do this, because they understand that optimism – or what I prefer to call rational optimism – is what initiates opportunity. They might check out the risks but nonetheless maintain a positive focus on how these can be overcome.
Could we therefore vision a world where Trump is not the disaster that we fear he may be, where Putin becomes a benevolent force, where Brexit works out well for all those involved, where IS fizzle out, where there is more integration between religion and races across the world, where women are treated as equals? Could new contracts, new leaders and new alliances actually be a good thing for the world? We may not be able to see this as a possibility today but equally none of us knows what the future holds so perhaps some modesty around our clairvoyant abilities is appropriate?
Let’s not feed the negativity and fear that exists in the world. There has been progress – fewer dictatorships, less bloodshed in war. Let’s build on this. We can’t create future success unless we acknowledge the successes we have created so far. We can’t shape a better world if we don’t know what we are trying to shape.
I won’t have time to write another new year message (we have between 10-16 people staying with us every day now between Christmas and new year!) so on that note may I wish you a very happy Christmas and a 2017 that brings what you would like.
I wish for peace and goodwill for all