I am far from fanatical about Christmas and I have never been overly excited about ringing in the New Year at the strike of midnight. But, I do thoroughly enjoy the tradition of winding down and reconnecting with family and friends that accompanies year end traditions. This year has been a special one in that regard because I was able to throttle back at work far more than usual. At the same time, our family life has been moving faster than ever, which made our easing up on the gas pedal more evident than in years past. The relaxation, reconnection, and reminiscing was most appreciated, as was the year end tradition of reflection.

2017 was not my favorite year and it was far from my worst, but it was among the most challenging. I say challenging because now at the end of the year, I feel tested. In many cases, I didn’t perform as well as I would have hoped on those tests and I certainly wasn’t aware of each test as they were being administered by life circumstance. Some tests I signed up for, some were tests I created, and some came without notice. Unlike my formal educational years, I no longer worry about getting an ‘A’. Yes, I want to perform well, do my best, and reach the expectations of myself and others. But I am far more interested in what I learn about me and the world around me as each test progresses than I am claiming victory. For if victory is achieved with great regularity, we aren’t properly focused on the right learning curve…growth matters.

Those who read my blog regularly know that I am both transparent and self-aware. I don’t mind sharing my struggles with others and I certainly believe that it is the strong who are willing to share their vulnerability. More than a few readers have reached out to me over the last two months to make sure I was OK, to ask me to stop being so hard on myself, and to give me the pep talks they believed I needed. Each call, text, conversation, and e-mail exchange was most appreciated. My wife and I acknowledge that our most recent permanent change of station (military members can attest that the word ‘permanent’ is a misnomer, as this is our 11th ‘permanent’ move together) has provided us with the most significant learning opportunity to date. What we have learned is not nearly as important as that we have learned. I won’t claim victory over 2017 and I don’t know that I’d give myself a high grade in my ability to navigate it, but I most certainly will acknowledge that I am better for having experienced it.

I don’t have a new year’s resolution (I stopped that long ago), though I most certainly have goals. At the top of that list is a commitment to learn as much as possible given the amazing opportunities surrounding us. So as I bid farewell to one of the most challenging years in a long time, I do so with gratitude. Thanks for the lessons, 2017. I look forward to applying what I continue to learn in 2018. Let’s do this.

  • What did 2017 help you learn?
  • How will you apply those lessons in 2018?
  • How committed are you to living life on a meaningful learning curve?