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SOUCHERAY: Beginning a new year with the end in mind

Y2K seems like it occurred not too many years ago. But the computer scare actually took place a decade ago! Remember when we feared that our computers might shut down, or not know how to function, because of the change to the year 2000?

Look back on this decade and think about the major events for yourself, your family and your work or business. As we close this 10-year period of time, look ahead and think about the ways you want to spend the upcoming year. Ask yourself how you want to feel a year from now, when you look back at how you have lived, the relationships you maintained or forged, and the direction your life has taken.

Stephen Covey writes, "Begin with the end in mind," which is precisely what planning now for the year ahead entails. Setting realistic, reachable goals will bring us closer to the person and the life we want to lead.

Perhaps we will choose to look at the financial strength of our savings and investment accounts. Decide if this is a time to continue trimming back and reorganizing the amount of money we save, spend, or invest in a retirement or college account.

Going back to school to get more education may be an important step to take at this point in time. If so, get a catalogue online, or in the mail, and chart a course for the future.

The fortitude it will require to return to school is no small feat, so be sure everyone in your family is on board. Figure out how to do it, keep a positive attitude, and take that first step toward the opportunities that await you.

Perhaps this is a year to be attentive to better physical health. If so, check out one of the many health clubs or facilities in Woodbury and begin a regular workout schedule. Plan to exercise to a full CD, or an iPod playlist, as you exercise. Register for a fitness class that meets two or three times a week or schedule an appointment with a personal trainer. Whatever we choose to do, charting a course we know we can maintain is the key to success.

This is also a perfect time to think about the depth and quality of our relationships and friendships by allocating time in the upcoming year to develop them. Resolve to spend time each week, or each a month, with a group of friends at breakfast, over coffee, or out to a movie. Make your get-together a standing date and put it on the calendar. When we take care of our relationships, we are essentially taking care of ourselves.

We could also decide to clear up a grudge or feeling of resentment we have toward someone. Living with unresolved anger eats away at us, not the other person. It will be a gift we give to ourselves when we move toward better relationships with as many people as possible in our lives.

This could also be a year to become more spiritually attentive, whether we find that in a church, a synagogue, a mosque, or on a quiet walk in nature. Reclaiming our spiritual center will offer calmness and a sense of purpose to every area of our life.

However we find that spiritual focus, studies show that when we are more spiritually-centered, we will find greater calmness and contentment in our lives.

The year ahead presents opportunities for living the kind of life we want to live. It begins with a little planning and forethought, followed by careful execution, faithful adherence, and a continual positive attitude that we can and will accomplish our goals. Happy New Year!