Moving forward beyond the year that was, I’d like to offer a proposition to those who are looking to grab life by the horns and catapult through 2017 with vigor and optimism. Far gone are the resolutions that possess front-loaded expectations only to be dismissed before the drop of the first April shower. Life has no disregard for the illnesses, deaths, and unforeseen health problems that many of us will encounter along the way, nor does it care to reward us for the patience, tolerance, and selflessness we possess in its opposition.

Coincidentally, those who join us in our journey through life aren’t necessarily lovers, supporters, and dreamers. Far too often, our lives are infiltrated by interlopers, grief merchants, takers, manipulators, and disbelievers. With life presenting its self as unpredictable and difficult as we all know it to be, the importance of surrounding ourselves with love, loyalty, inspiration, faith, support, and dignity is of great necessity.

May 2017 be the year that you purge the relationships that hold you back and cleanse the path that will ultimately lead to your personal, professional, spiritual, and financial success. Drop the negativity from your accompaniment so that the bow of your ship can sail over the waterways of life rather than crashing through the waves of adversity.

Negativity appears in a number of ways, many of which are ominous in existence but aggressive in resistance. Often times, our own inability to acknowledge and engage in the uncomfortable aspects of our life is as dangerous as our willingness to only practice what we align with comfort. It is the difficult conversations we have that yield the greatest education. Race, religion, and politics are the big three but beneath the camouflage of insecurity lies nutrition, drugs, alcohol, mental illness, money, family, and sexual orientation. The childhood of our youth has become too soft – too consumed with potential feelings of hurt and disappointment. Parents avoid important conversations in fear of “piling on to an already tough world.” In an attempt to protect our youth we are merely ill-preparing them for the adversities and detours that are inevitably coming.

Lets make a pack to have the difficult conversations with those we care about. We need to be open about the negativity that we observe in other peoples lives no matter the source of influence or the impact the discussion will have. The greatest consequence of avoidance is shielding ourselves and others from the implications that accompany conflict. Through the internalization of feelings and opinions we simply wound our relationships rather than protect them.

If we are to look closely at 2017, we can acknowledge the marriage of two fascinating numbers. In biblical writings, the number twenty denotes the perfect waiting period. For 20 years the children of Israel waited to be freed of the king of Canaan, who dispirited their existence. Conversely, seventeen depicts the seventeenth day of Nisan – the day Jesus was resurrected and coincidentally, on the 17th day of the seventh Hebrew month, Noah’s Ark came to a final resting place on the mountainside of  Ararat. Both these moments in time represent complete victory – that by which Jesus overcame death and Noah, with his wife, their son’s, and their wives, began new beginnings on earth.

Let this be our year of new beginnings as well. Cleans your life of the people who do not support and empower you. Eliminate the downers, judgers, takers, and manipulators. Downers disrupt the existence of possibility and no matter how big or small, possibility is what keeps our dreams alive. Those who judge care not for who we are but rather how we make them appear when we accompany them. The self-obsession of their own life drowns out the glorification of your own character. Dismiss them. Takers need your house, need your car, need an extra dollar, need a referral, need a favor, and need your advice but they never offer a hand in return. They take what you have earned and make it their own – not because it is theirs, but because they rationalize the existence of your friendship to their needs. Manipulators lack authenticity. What you see is not always what you get and what you get is not always what you see. In a world overflowing with the unknown it is crucial we surround ourselves with certainty, specifically those whom we hold closest to our heart.

Embrace the supporters, lovers, forgivers, and learners. Tighten your circle but widen your reach. Look further for great people to compliment your life. Look beyond your high school, college, or athletic team. Befriend the man that feeds the pigeons, the woman that bagged your groceries, or the children that throw the football in the park. Step outside your comfort zone to experience life as the genuine person you are rather than the person many believe you to be.

In the early millennium I advised athletes to never eat alone. In 2017, I suggest doing more activities alone. Life has become increasingly social, most times beyond the scope of our permission or likeness. Filters, like buttons, follow counts, and video views have led to intense pressure to uphold and maintain a sense of approval that far exceeds the availability of our consistency. I encourage you to enjoy time with yourself – in the absence of judgment and characterizations. Go to the movies alone. Eat alone. Go for a walk, a run, or to the mall alone. Go to church alone, pray alone, and cry alone. Being alone allows us to learn about ourselves in a way that the world simply does not allow. Life is tough whether with family, friends, or by yourself. Be prepared through the positivity that others bring to your life – but in the instance that they are not there – have faith in yourself that even though alone, all will be OK.

This is the year. Rid your life of the negativity. Engage in the difficult conversations. Prepare yourself for all aspects of life by first and foremost surrounding yourself with people who empower you. Purge those who drag you down and do not look back. Harness all the energy of your dreams and propel yourself forward. 2017 will be your ultimate victory in opposition to all that has weighted you down.

I am here. I will empower you – because you empower me. Share this if you want positivity in other’s lives as well as your own. 

God Bless.