He danced around a crowded restaurant, surrounded by his nearest and dearest, decked in all their winter finery, and he dreamt of a better year, a year with infinite possibilities and personal growth. As the television presenter counted down to “1,” everyone clutched one another lovingly, champagne crusted songs were being sung, traditions all coming to a head. She was holding a dollar in her hand so the year would bring prosperity. “That guy” was looking at the ceiling, either because the room was spinning from too many shots or because his dad gave him the tradition of praying to God that the New Year would be a healthy one, but he couldn’t remember which. And he was looking at this beautiful gathering of all the crazy in his life and smiling.
I couldn’t scream Happy New Year with everyone else, because I was the guy smiling. Like so many other people, I was surrounded by those I love and daydreaming of the unprecedented bounty of wonderfulness that 2012 would bestow upon me. I’d made sure that I had a plan for 2012 before 2011 was too far forgotten, but throughout this year I’ve truly learned to understand the very wise words of my dearest friend, “Make a plan, and God will laugh at you.”
In the early months of the New Year I announced my brave return to competition in hopes of competing at the next Olympics in 2014. This kind of announcement is one of a planned nature. You can’t simply announce that you have arrived and you certainly can’t teleport your way to the future. It takes diligence and hard work to achieve anything in this life. It takes a plan.
By the middle of the year I’d celebrated growing one year older. I was also celebrating the loss of fifteen pounds from training all day every day and a strict diet that seemed easy when I was just a young dude. In addition to drinking to my own personal New Year, I celebrated a rapidly depleting bank account because my new plan didn’t really leave me any time to work between the training and the dieting. None of this stuff was in the master plan.
By autumn, I was back traveling the globe to compete. It would become a disappointing venture as I failed to perform to the standard I was used to, and I ended up getting injured and not even being able to complete the final two events of the year. Just months ago, it seemed I’d had the world at my fingertips, smiling like an idiot at somebody holding a giant bottle of champagne with a sparkler coming out the top, how did it come to this?
I’d made a plan. The tricky thing about making plans is that you never plan for failure or setbacks and as soon as they arrive, you go insane trying to figure them out before they affect the final result you’re after and ultimately those five minutes you spend troubleshooting deter you from your course just long enough to alter the planned route.
Whether it’s God, or Allah, or ManBearPig from “South Park,” I want to formally thank whomever it was that threw me off course. For all of the detours and hardships this year has granted me, I hold my head high as I still have air in my lungs and a roof over my head.
You see, life isn’t about living according to a planned route to your ultimate destiny it is about achieving the right to fulfill your destiny. If my year hadn’t been difficult, I wouldn’t have learned skills that will enable me to sidestep such difficulties later on. The greatest gift I’ve given myself this year is that no matter what the universe threw at me, I went to work and sweated through every torturous second. I have persevered because it was the only thing I could do.
No matter what this year has brought to you personally, I hope you had the strength to persevere and I hope you got thrown off course. Perseverance is priceless and it always gives a return. When the clock strikes “1” and 2013 is upon you, I hope you have the strength to make a plan with me, so that when God laughs at us, we can laugh too. Happy New Year.