Let’s face it, New Year’s resolutions put a lot of pressure on us. We want them to be meaningful, but not too difficult. We want to challenge ourselves, but not set ourselves up for failure. What’s a person to do?

Channel Goldilocks! Remember her story with the three bears? She wanders off in the forest, finds a cute little cottage and enters. She finds and tastes three bowls of porridge, sits in the cottage’s three chairs, and wanders upstairs where she tests three beds. The cottage owners (who happen to be the bears) return, frighten her to the point of jumping out the window after which she runs home to live happily ever after.

Never mind the fact that this is a tale about an intruder who could not control herself when encountering the possessions of others. Let’s focus instead on one of the story’s themes: the discovery of what is “just right.”

When testing the porridge, chairs and beds, Goldilocks decides that the first is wrong in one way and the second is wrong in another, opposite way. Only the third item she tries, the one in the middle, gets the “just right” stamp of approval. And while finding an exact middle path between opposites is of extraordinary importance in storytelling, it’s equally important for us as cancer survivors.

Like Goldilocks, we survivors have a threesome facing us as well. We are the proud owners of three distinct lives, beginning with the one before cancer. While most of us certainly experienced ups and downs, the time before diagnosis seems pretty easy, comparatively speaking, right? Mysteries and fears? Maybe a couple, but nothing we couldn’t handle. Was it comfortable? Or was it like the bed Goldilocks tried that was too soft or the porridge she ate that was too cold.

Then came our big game changer, the cancer diagnosis! That first life took a powder faster than a confirmed bachelor runs from a bridal shop. Suddenly the second life is thrust upon us, with fear and uncertainty lurking around every dark corner. We found ourselves in the company of a cavalcade of doctors, nurses and technicians whom we had never met. Nothing about that world was familiar or comfortable. It was akin to Goldilocks scalding her mouth on the porridge that was too hot or cracking her back on the bed that was too hard.

One morning, we awake to find that our third life has begun. Whether that’s the end of treatment or settling into ongoing treatment, things change once again. Now I’ll grant you that that this life can be filled with mysteries and fears as well. Calling it “just right” doesn’t jump to the front of your thoughts, does it? But this third life does give us the opportunity to create our “just right.”

Look, we have survived a cancer diagnosis and it’s ensuing treatments. We’re not the same as we were in our first or second lives. But with whatever time we have left, we have a second chance – a Second Act – to create a new and very special life. We may not have more money, more brains or be more attractive. But we see things more clearly than most do because of what we’ve faced. That’s a powerful tool and very useful for creating our resolutions for 2014.

Don’t know how to get started? Consider these questions:

What’s really important to you?
What powers do you really have that can help you change yourself or the world     around you?
What do you want to look back on with pride when you’re sitting exactly where     you are now in one year?

Hopefully these will guide you. But let me give you one more suggestion: “Just right,” like resolutions, is different for everyone. There are no right or wrong answers. What’s important is that we maximize our second acts however we can.

Here’s wishing you a happy journey to find your “just right” resolutions!

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