What would you do differently?

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What would you do differently this year? To know the answer to that question, we need a perspective on what happened in the previous year. What did we do that we are happy and satisfied with? What did we do that we are less than proud of? What would we do differently if we had the chance?

Another new year. 2006 is here, and the Chinese year of the Fire Dog, 4703 is about to start. This time of the year, numerous well meaning resolutions are being made, and almost as many are rapidly being forgotten.

A nagging question lingers in the mind for many whether you celebrate the New Year or not: What would you do differently this year? To know the answer to that question, we need a perspective on what happened in the previous year. What did we do that we are happy and satisfied with? What did we do that we are less than proud of? What would we do differently if we had the chance?

An acquaintance of mine, John was diagnosed with a terminal illness; he was given six months to live. He grieved and anguished with his family and loved ones and then went about getting his affairs in order and to say his goodbyes. On a last ditch effort with one more month to live, he saw another specialist. It turned out it was a misdiagnosis and he wasnt going to die after all!

Not surprising Johns whole attitude towards life changed. He reflected on his life as he has lived it so far and reevaluated his priorities. He decided to reduce his hours spent on his business and took that time to spend with his family and to volunteer at the local Big Brother program. He decided that his life mission was to make a difference to the people that he came in contact with. He felt that it was more important to him than the wealth, prestige and physical comforts he could provide.

What happened next is truly the even more remarkable part of the story. First, his business is thriving even more than before! How can that be? He smiled ruefully and said that he was probably micromanaging before and now his people are energized, more creative and productive.

He laughs a lot more now and admits that he was too intense and regimented before. Johns family is happier too; his two children are thrilled that he can attend their school events and John and his wife have date night once a month.

John is now Big Brother to a twelve year old boy who looks forward to their regular get-togethers. They spend time playing ball, working on homework and just hanging out. It seems to be making a positive difference as the boy hasnt said anything about dropping out of school anymore. The last time I saw John, he said, If I knew it could be this good, I should have thought I was going to die sooner!

What would you do differently? Take the time to ask yourself that question, and to answer it truthfully after deep consideration. Remember one of the definitions of insanity is when someone does the same thing over and over again hoping for new results. Havent we all done that? We say we want one thing and yet we devote energy, time and resources to something else You want to achieve something significant in your life but you are still waiting for the right moment before you start to work towards your goal. Or you want to have a good relationship but you are too busy working to spend time with the one(s) you care about. Or you want to lose weight yet you spend time sitting in front of the computer or TV instead of going for a walk or to exercise. When we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

Lets start this New Year with a deeper understanding of what we really are here for, our true life purpose. Look into your heart; ask yourself the question, What is my life mission? What would I like to remembered for? As you lay on your death bed, and you smile and say to your gathered loved ones, I can now die in peace because I have accomplished what I came on earth to do. What would those things be?

Are you on the path to achieving those goals now? Answer yourself honestly, and congratulate yourself on having the opportunity to pursue your dreams now. Today is the day, this is the year. You can do it and yes, you can start now.

Marilyn Tam is an influential corporate leader, speaker, consultant, author, philanthropist and social activist. www.HowToUseWhatYouveGot.com

Marilyn Tams book, How to Use What Youve Got to Get What You Want, receives an average 5-star rating from Amazon.com customers. In her book, Ms. Tam talks about how to discover your own inner North Star, and how to use it to navigate your efforts to achieve maximum personal success. The hardcover is just $14.00 on Amazon.com. Check it out! Click here.