As we closed out last year, I spent the final month in moments of reflection. Over the course of 2017, I’ve witnessed family, friends and people in my professional network struggle. Some have lost their jobs, some have developed health issues and some have encountered the personal loss of family members, pets and friends.
I’ve listened to friends struggling to find their professional footing, manage the stress of family and are questioning what’s ahead in the next chapter of their life. From an outsider’s view, it seems we all struggled. And amid these struggles, we connected through the pain and sought new directions in editing our own stories.
Be more OPEN – Doubt and fear can cripple our ability to move forward. Instead of remaining comfortable in static situations professionally and personally, maybe we should all stay just slightly uncomfortable through this journey. Allow ourselves to expand our hearts to receive new opportunities, do a happy dance to an unexpected song and expand our boundaries to welcome new relationships that help us to deepen our core.
Listen in SILENCE – We are ALL judgmental. We all have opinions and plenty of advice to exchange when listening to those we love share their pain. The greatest gift we can provide is the ability to simply be silent when family or friends share their pains, struggles and fears. We don’t know it, but we are providing a gift when we listen to others open their hearts and ask us to help them unpack the pain and sorrow weighing them down. We all want to be heard. We all want to find a way to release and let our anxieties go. To be trusted with this gift of vulnerability requires that we honor those in front of us by being an active listener in moments of silence.
Find JOY – Life can seem like a bullet train. We zip from one place to another, hopping on and off in a rhythm that seems endless. I want to be more mindful of being present for joy in 2018. Whether it’s saving a couple of dollars from couponing or watching my nephew figure out a puzzle, joy is abundant in my life. It’s easy to focus on what is lacking, and those shadows can choke us from seeing the light around us. Don’t overlook the people who have shown us compassion, the strangers who have fleetingly let us move ahead in line.
I’m ready to stretch in 2018. To better expand myself just a little bit more. A friend once said to me, “I want you to know your best days are not behind you, but ahead of you.” I plan on everything I can to make that happen this year.
Kathy Chow is executive director of the Asian American Journalists Association.