Have you noticed that it is the givers who get--how rewards follow service--how the people who make the most lasting impression on us are those that make a difference in our lives? Do you invest time thinking about what inspires you, what fulfills you, what delights you, what you truly value?

My friend, Richard Leider, the highly-acclaimed career and life planning expert, conducted a survey with people who were chronologically gifted (otherwise known as senior citizens). He asked: “If you had your life to live over again, what would you do differently?” A common theme evolved: “I’d take more time for reflection. I’d take more time to think about my life, to see whether the decisions and choices that I was making in my life were leading me to where I wanted to go in my life.”

With that in mind, we might ask ourselves: What have I learned and how have I grown in 2016? What do I want to create for my life in 2017? For me, I know I’ve learned to distinguish between a real problem and what is merely an inconvenience. I refuse to ‘sweat the small stuff,’ but I will also not deny the challenges of the world are more complex and complicated than I ever imagined. The example of others, however, demonstrates that humankind has within it the genius to find solutions.

Whether 2016 has ended in a positive way for you or whether you are concerned and even fearful about the future, come to terms with what is within your control and what is not. Become aware that each of us can direct our thoughts and determine our actions. As we wind down this tumultuous year let us resolve, therefore, to be more conscious of how those thoughts and actions affect the world in which we live.

The social philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, suggested that on spaceship earth there are no passengers, only crew. But, as members of this crew, we get to choose our own assignments. Some of us will lead while others will follow. At no time, however, should we make the mistake of comparing, devaluing or overvaluing, the worthiness of our assignments. Each contribution is of vital importance when it helps to steer spaceship earth in the direction we believe it should go.

So, let us commit to what is within our control. Doing good work inspires creativity and innovation. It builds both successful organizations and prosperous businesses. Perhaps we might feel that we are a small cog in a big wheel, but it is the tiny trim tab that eventually turns both the ocean liner and jumbo jet.

Let us commit to learning so that we have more options. This means learning from the unexpected and not being afraid to entertain new thoughts, ideas, dreams, values, or beliefs. When we are open to learning every encounter, every interaction and insight becomes an opportunity to be more fully engaged in our dynamic world.

Let us commit to enriching and nurturing the relationships with those who are important to us. How can we show more interest, ask more questions, listen more attentively, offer more help, provide more support, express our love, and seek out more opportunities to simply just enjoy each other?

Solomon, when given a blank check by God to choose whatever he wanted for his life, chose wisdom. Here, then, are two questions that distill the wisdom of the philosophers, spiritual teachers, and psychologists who, throughout history, have sought the prescription for a happy life. Each night before you go to sleep, ask yourself:

Did I today, in someway, grow as a human being?

Did I today, in anyway, make the world a better place to live?

In 2017, commit to being able to answer yes to each of these questions. Do so and you will discover that, despite the turbulence in the world, you will thrive not just survive.

"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” -- Rumi