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ValueSpeak: Not just hope

Published: Friday, Dec. 27 2013 4:45 p.m. MST

Fireworks explode in front of the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre over the Victoria Harbor as celebrating the 2013 New Year in Hong Kong Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

Kin Cheung, AP

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As far as Brandon is concerned, 2013 can’t end soon enough.

It’s been one of those years for him, you know? Illness, injuries, work issues, money frustrations, school hassles, two car wrecks and — oh yeah — divorce have all taken their toll on my young friend. You might say that 2013 has been "the best of times and the worst of times" for Brandon.

Only without "the best of times."

Which is probably why he isn’t exactly sprinting toward 2013's finish line. He is limping, partly because he dinged his knee last week in that second car wreck (he’s fine, but his car isn’t, and you wouldn’t believe the frustrations he has experienced getting the car fixed), and partly because the year’s events have left him drained — emotionally, mentally, physically, financially and any other "-ly" you can come up with.

“I know there are lots of people who have had a tougher year than I did,” Brandon told me recently. "I have a place to live, food on my table and clothes on my back. Compared to a lot of people, my life is good. But still, I hope 2014 is better. I don’t need it to be perfect; I’m just hoping for better."

And who can blame him? Aren’t we all hoping 2014 is better, happier, kinder, gentler, more fulfilling and more prosperous? I know I hope that every year at about this time. In fact, I have it on good authority (in other words, I’m making this up) that "Auld Lang Syne" is actually a lowland Scots term for: "I hope the New Year is a darn sight better than the auld one."

And that’s OK. Hope is a good thing. It is faith-affirming. It is positive. It is confident. It is resolute. It is, well, hopeful. It can make all the difference between success and failure. Just ask any Cubs fan. Without hope, Washington surrenders at Valley Forge, Lincoln gets out of politics before he runs for president and Michael Jordan quits basketball when he doesn’t make the varsity team his sophomore year of high school.

As good a thing as hope is, however, it never hurts to mix in a little goal-setting and a lot of hard work. "The future does not get better by hope; it gets better by plan," said philosopher/entrepreneur Jim Rohn. "And to plan for the future, we need goals."

At the same time, author Nido Qubein reminds us that we "may have the loftiest goals, the highest ideals, the noblest dreams, but remember this: Nothing works unless you do."

So that’s what Brandon is planning to do this New Year’s Day. He told me that sometime in between the start of the parades and the end of the football games, he’s going to sit down and think about 2013 and the lessons he’s learned from it, and then strategize his goals for 2014 (which will not, he promises, include getting married again).

He says he will not think in terms of "what do I want to do?" but rather, "what do I want to have happen?" Then he will formulate a plan for what he will do to make those goals happen.

And then he will go to work — beginning immediately — to make 2014 better, happier, kinder, gentler, more fulfilling and more prosperous.

It should be noted that even after all that goal-setting, planning, strategizing and working, Brandon still hopes for the best. He hopes like crazy. But he’s not going to just hope. Hope will fill in the gaps between what he can control and what is beyond his control. He’ll do all that he can do and hope that it is enough.

And that he won’t be quite so anxious for 2014 to end.

To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com.

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