This past year, my “little gremlin” Henry- a Japanese Chin, lost his eyesight to glaucoma.

As he adjusted from his ability to use his sense of sight to navigating the world without it, I took to heart the value of clarity – or rather, the impact not having a clear vision can have on one’s life, relationships, career, and business. .

Prior to January 2016 Henry ran through our home and office with a general skip to his step.  He loved his morning walks- always off leash- through our neighborhood, at the beach, and on hiking trails. You could see the joy in his little face as he flashed that “joker smile” ( his mouth literally looks like the Joker character from Batman).  His days were filled with lots of activity, playtime,  and plenty of  cat naps. What a life!dirty-henry

Almost immediately after losing his sight, I noticed a marked difference in his personality. I found it interesting that years of interacting with the same environment had created a sense of security. The familiarity of countless trips around the office and in and out of rooms in our home had carved out  the perfect internal map.  He can  maneuver almost flawlessly around our home and office. At the office, he knows where everyone sits and makes a beeline to the ones who consistently cave in to his “cute begging”. He does this regardless if the person is in or not, sometimes barking and begging at completely empty chairs.  Suffice it to say, as long as he is in familiar territory, he maintains his content demeanor. He is on autopilot. 

The moment he ventures into unfamiliar territory, it is immediately apparent that his level of stress and anxiety suddenly skyrockets.  Out for one of our hikes, I entered the trail from a different entrance. Because we hike in this area all the time, I figured it would be no problem, but the starting point changed the original context and he froze.  He moved cautiously and with concern until he finally laid down on the trail and refused to move…paralyzed by fear.  In that moment, a two part lesson revealed itself.  When things you do daily become habit, you no longer have to give intentional thought to those activities. You put yourself on autopilot, going through the motion of things with your “eyes closed”. On the one hand, this frees up your brain to engage in new things but can also result in missing the essence of the experience. Secondly, when you lack clarity- you are influenced by fear, anxiety, and stress – making it impossible to move in any forward direction.  You become stagnant. A  clear vision for one’s dreams and goals creates confidence, enthusiasm, and paves the path on which to travel.  Lack of clarity or vision results in stress, anxiety, fear, and paralysis.henry-sleeping

In the final days of 2016, people scramble to prepare for their “perfect year ahead”.  This will be the year they lose weight, end a bad relationship or embark on a new one, get a new job, change careers, start a business, travel more, worry less…the list goes on and on.   What do you see ahead in 2017?  Do you have a clear vision for how you want the new year to unfold?  Will you continue with the familiar, starting and ending each of the next 12 months on auto-pilot? Will you do things that scare you, taking you out of your comfort zone so you can breakthrough self -imposed barriers?

When you reflect on 2016, taking stock of your wins, losses, and  lessons learned, what will you leave behind? As you ring in 2017, how will you commit to chasing your dreams? Who will be a part of your inner-circle, providing you with guidance and inspiration?  What lessons might you seek to learn while you spend time with your dog(s), the most loyal, loving creature in your life?

Reaching your personal pinnacle in 2017 should be non-negotiable.  Create your vision for the year ahead and move towards it with definitive action.  Avoid blindly stepping into the next 365 days.

Some thoughts to help you  be deliberate in your journey through 2017:

  1. Write down what you value most and evaluate if your days are designed with those values in mind.
  2. What is the story you will write about your year on December 31, 2017? How will you turn those experiences and target goals into actionable tasks to complete in 90 day increments?
  3. Add a little meditation with your dog followed by a walk for exercise into your morning routine
  4. Re-write your biggest goals out in a journal everyday
  5. As you live life with Dog, be mindful of the experiences and lessons that appear which make it possible to “fetch a life worth barking about”.

I’d love to learn more about how your dog positively impacts your life each day.  To read inspiring stories and share one of your own, consider submitting to be a part of our #dogvergnugen community. It’s all about how great you feel living life with Dog.