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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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What would it take to make 2016 your best year?

It’s probably something we recognize only when looking back on our lives.

But just imagine. What if you could see it coming?

What would it take for you to consider 2016 your best year ever?

Meet the love of your life? See your career take off? Watch your child rally from a life-threatening illness and fearlessly move on? Overcome addiction? Turn away from a life of crime? Break up with someone who was dragging you down? Make a pivotal decision about moving to a different city or taking a new job that you will one day look back on as a key step in achieving fulfillment?

Or perhaps something else, something more subtle.

For Robert Carriker, retired professor of history at Gonzaga University, 2015 holds first place in his “best year ever” ranking.

It has been a year that saw his 11 grandchildren take purposeful steps in their life journeys. He’s proud of them.

“So 2016 would have to be something really special to dislodge it.”

Wayne Sanders, a sales manager at a local manufacturing concern, ruled out one consideration. “It would be easy to say win a huge Powerball jackpot, never have to worry financially, et cetera.”

But he noted money doesn’t guarantee contentment.

What does?

“Basically, if everyone around me is happy and healthy, life is good,” he said.

Trying to identify what might make a year your “best ever” is fundamentally different from this business of making resolutions and declaring a commitment to self-improvement. Though no one disputes the role of intention in reaching our desires, sometimes randomness and, for a lack of a better word, fate, alter the course of events for us.

Moments that turn things around for you don’t always start on a “To do” list.

Some things are simply impossible to predict: An email that changes your outlook, a whispered emotional rescue, a promotion advocated by someone who inexplicably believes in you, a saving moment of restraint, a close call you walk away from, a lab test that spots something troubling in time to address it, a big idea from out of the blue.

All can set in motion chain reactions that are, well, the stuff of life. The good stuff.

Still, there is something to be said for making a plan – even if you’ve heard the line about that’s how you make God laugh.

“I would have to make a conscious effort to decide I’m going to have a fabulous year,” said Lisa Giegel, a homemaker. “I would wake up every day and choose to focus on the good and be grateful for all the little things that make up my life. Then, even if nothing big and spectacular happened during the year, all those days would add up to a gentle but happy existence.”

Hank Greer, an information technology specialist, fears he might jinx it if he speculated about precisely what might make 2016 a four-star experience. But he will declare an intention to do something for the first time at least once each month next year.

“Given my penchant for being different, ‘something’ can be anything exceedingly cool, dangerous, hilarious, adventurous, and generally considered badass.”

Then there is the matter of just how we define “best year.”

The year you made a lot of money? The year you discovered the power of kindness?

A person’s perspective is apt to change over time.

Trevor Donelan, a 12-year-old in Spokane Valley, said 2016 could be his best year if he succeeds in improving his times in cross-country running. And he would like to do Bloomsday in under an hour.

Of course, even as we mature, there is nothing saying a year cannot be outstanding even if we don’t win an Oscar or pitch a no-hitter in the seventh game of the World Series.

Sometimes you cannot beat family life.

Greg Devlin, a Spokane lawyer, will become a grandparent for the first time next year. Good health for all concerned, the baby girl included, of course, would make 2016 a best-year candidate.

For Ann Fennessy, a singer and teacher, 2016 might wind up being her best 12 months if she could look back and say she had gotten sick of her whole family.

“Meaning, both Bob and I hunger to see our kids and other loved ones more frequently and would love the chance to get our fill of them.”

Like virtually everyone interviewed, Bill Reichert, a project manager for the federal government’s General Services Administration, offered a few big-picture “safe drinking water” and “peace in the Mideast” answers reflecting his hopes for the coming year.

But, from a purely personal, slightly whimsical perspective, he would be a happy man if “Calvin & Hobbes” and “The Far Side” returned to the comics page in 2016.

Cindy Garvin, an executive assistant at a Spokane retirement community, thought about it and decided nothing significant needs to change to make 2016 another satisfying year.

“I am thankful for my health. I am blessed with a strong marriage and two wonderful daughters who bring me joy every day. I look forward to giving to others and making a difference.”

So it seems you need not be 19 and facing nothing but grand possibilities to experience a stellar year.

Steve Wilder, a credit union executive, said 2016 will be an automatic contender for the “best ever” title for one simple reason.

He’s retiring. “No matter how good the company and people I work with, 41 years will be quite enough.”

So maybe this is putting too much pressure on one year to be memorably special, to be The One.

After all, time doesn’t stand still after the moment or moments that make one year arguably your finest.

Coeur d’Alene’s Gratia Hannan Griffith was asked what might make 2016 her best year ever.

She thought about it, and reflected on her age. She is 91.

“Perhaps just making it to the end of the year.”

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