by Leslie Austin, Ph.D.

Oh what a tumultuous year this has been! This passage from Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities could well have been written about 2017:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst
of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was
the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of
belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was
the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter
of despair, we had everything before us, we had
nothing before us, we were all going direct to
Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

It is striking to me to note that as the year progressed our society became steadily more and more polarized, angry, despairing, bitter, and nihilistic in mood. The discourses regarding our politics and governmental affairs are increasingly rancorous and contentious.  Condemnation, obstruction, attacking and shaming seem to have replaced negotiation and compromise as the ways to try to get anything done. Public figures vindictively bullying those who disagree with them are now daily occurrences.

Regardless of whether you are a “blue” or “red” person (or neither), there is a high likelihood that you (and also your clients) are unhappy and frustrated with how things are going. The overall mood in our media and in our country is overwhelmingly negative. Many coaches are seeing a significant increase in their clients reporting intense states of high anxiety, fear, and anger fueled by the deeply dark atmosphere around them in their daily lives.

From my perspective, and at the risk of oversimplifying, we seem to be living from an “anti-“ stance rather than a “pro-“ stance. We’re angry about so many things, anxious about what’s happening around us, fearful that everything is spinning out of control and we are powerless. But despite the intensity of our negative feelings, we do have a choice. We can choose to focus on creating a more positive, optimistic inner attitude. We can practice being for whatever matters to us rather than just railing against what upsets us  If something is troubling you or your clients, do something; take an action, no matter how small, to make a change for the better. Support groups that work towards a goal with which you can align! Be a “pro-poser” rather than an “op-poser!”

The point is: as a coach, you can choose to be the model for how you’d like your clients, the people around you, and your world to be. You can be a force for good and support your clients to do the same. You can keep the focus daily, incrementally, steadily and inevitably on taking one small action after another to make something, anything in life better. You can be the person who coaches your clients to focus on what’s working, how to make it even better and create an optimistic vision for the future, and then start taking action to make it happen.

In keeping with the ancient symbolism of this Winter Solstice 2017 here in the northern hemisphere, I wish for us all the letting go and ending of the darkness in our lives and the rebirth of the light and our commitment to being a force for good. As we celebrate the turning of the year in nature’s seasonal cycle and start anew, I wish all of you the very best, happiest, and most fruitful New Year ever.

My best to all, and let’s make it happen… now!