“Live by Vision and Not by Circumstances” – Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano

On Christmas Day, I was lucky enough to spend some time with my niece, an incredibly talented actress and dancer trying to find her way in the world. When I asked her what she expected and hoped for in the coming year, the defeated look in her eyes spoke louder than her words. “This year just has to be different.”

Having been where she is, her sense of disillusionment was familiar to me. Turning my passion for writing into a profession has been trickier than I thought it would be. After several months of trying, all I had to show for my efforts were a few posts, a Twitter account (that I have no idea how to use) and the distinct feeling that I had no idea what I was doing.

Then I got a pep talk from NFL coach Chuck Pagano. In a video that captures a celebration after a come-from-behind win, he talks about how, regardless of what countless critics had written and said about them, the Indianapolis Colts refuse to let their circumstances decide the outcome of the game. Instead, their vision determined it. He refers to his personal battle with leukemia and how “it’s already beat.” He describes the vision he has for the future, including dancing at his daughters’ weddings and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in the air as a team.

And, just like that, I was inspired. Hope, once again, was tucked securely under my arm.

This year, instead of making a list of resolutions, I am consciously creating a vision for myself. I’m letting myself imagine what all areas of my life could look like: professional success, good health, memorable family experiences, meaningful charity work and lots of football games. Thankfully there are tons of websites that provide fantastic suggestions and step-by-step directions so I’m having fun doing it, too. And when my personal circumstances attempt to remind me how many times I have tried and failed, I swiftly bench them.

Great players, coaches and owners know that football is more than what you see between the white lines; it’s about encouraging all of us to stay in the game. It’s not about what the headlines say; it’s about imagining your greatest life on and off the field and living it. It’s not just about scoring a touchdown; it’s about the feeling you get in the locker room when you know you won as a team.

As I explained this concept to my niece, her eyes brightened. “This year IS going to be different.”

Yes, beautiful girl, it is. Dare to imagine what your life can look like, live by the vision and let yourself shine. And remember to include me… because in my vision, you choreograph my end zone victory dance.

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