Growing up we always closed the holiday season by watching "It's a Wonderful Life" - that famous Christmas movie filmed in the late 40's starring James Stewart. If you haven't ever watched it, it's a gem and well worth the time. It is ranked in the top 100 best American films ever made and was nominated for five academy awards.
I'd watched it a million times growing up, but this year I thought about it from a different perspective. The storyline has the main character, George Bailey facing a life crisis as he realizes that he's missed out on pursuing his dreams. He forewent his life savings and dreams to travel the world to save his father's company. He ended up working his whole life helping others yet barely making a dime for himself. He becomes depressed and attempts to take his own life by jumping into a river on a cold winter night. Suddenly, his attention is drawn to screams for help from the river below. It's another man struggling for his life. George jumps in and saves him. After getting to shore, George realizes the man is actually an angel sent to save him. In complete disbelief, George says he wished he'd gone through with it and that he would have never been born.
Spoiler Alert - if that's even possible with a 70-year-old film. The rest of the movie is George getting his "wish" granted, as he lives life as it would have been had he never been born. He sees countless lives worse off for him not having existed. He finally realizes the value of his ordinary life focused on helping others. In that moment he learns that the self-centered dreams pale in comparison to what his real life had become.
As the holidays fade into the background and we head back to work (unless you still have your tree up - you know who you are), I could not help but reflect on that great old story. What a great theme for the year ahead, and what a great reminder of what is important.
Whether you've made formal written resolutions or just like the idea of a fresh start, we've all thought about what the year ahead will hold. Gyms are full, new savings plans have begun and after two weeks, most of us are still on track.
While you're planning your year, take a moment to also think about the impact you make every day on the people around you. It's easy to get so caught up in whether or not you are reaching your goals, dreams, and ambitions and miss the fact that you may be carrying out your life's calling by loving your family well or being there in a time of need for a friend.
I've always believed that your calling is no greater than the person in front of you.
I love goals and resolutions and recommend everyone have a few. Just make sure you don't miss the moments in between the big achievements and failures that often carry the most weight.
Here's to a great 2017!