As I publish this blog, there is only one week to go before 2023 ends. It has been a year of joyful wonders, adventures, lessons, fun, laughter, tears, challenges, connections, achievements, experiences, breakthroughs, and aha moments. For me anyway, and I am assuming the same for you. As I think back, there is one particular aha moment that will impact me forever more, and as I share it with you, I hope it helps you reflect on your own.

This is a story I have written about this year, so my apologies if you have heard it, however, I believe it’s absolutely worth repeating. Some of the greatest awakenings and fulfilling moments for me this year have been the result of my experiences interacting with the homeless community. I had incredible fear before making the decision to help my friend Kate who is doing amazing work and had been trying to convince me for some time to come and help her feed the homeless. Finally, I did, and the fear was real. It was fear of what to say, fear of what to do, but mostly it was fear of not being able to make a meaningful difference in the lives of these people.

Very quickly I realised that these people didn’t need extraordinary gestures of time or money, they just wanted to feel important. Incredibly, the strength of that message didn’t really hit home until an experience a few days later. I was walking home from an errand, and in a bit of a hurry to get to my destination before my next Zoom meeting. As I was striding up the road, I was approached by a man who may have been homeless, but certainly seemed a little lost. He said hi, and I responded. He started walking with me, which if I am being honest, started worrying me a little. He asked me what my name was, where I lived, and tried to start a conversation. I was polite but guarded, as you can imagine.

When he asked me what I did, I told him I did many things to help people, including writing books. As we were walking, and as I couldn’t seem to shake him, this is how the conversation went from that point;

“What kind of books do you write?” He asked.

“Self-help and personal growth books.” I replied.

“I need to read one of your books.” He stated.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Because I need help. I am 50 years old, have a dead-end job, and I am a loser.” He declared.

With that statement, God spoke to me. I knew I needed to stop walking and actually connect with this man. As I looked at him, he struggled to look at me eye-to-eye, and I asked him his name.

“My name is Mark.” He replied.

“Mark”, I said, “can you please wait here for a moment?

As I was speaking to him, we had reached a corner where I would turn to get to my home. I didn’t want him to follow me any further, but I did want to get something for him. He agreed to wait, and I went home and got him a copy of my book TEARS of Joy. A few minutes later, I was walking back to give him a copy of my book, proud of myself for such a kind gesture. As I approached him, he looked at me with a surprised look on his face, and the next words that came out of his mouth provided the aha moment that changed my life forever.

He said to me, with genuine surprise, relief, and hope in his voice, “You came back!”

In that moment, it made sense. In that moment, I recognised what all people want most, no matter their circumstances in life. In that moment, I realised that we all just want to be noticed, feel important, and feel worthy of coming back for. I had made Mark’s day. Not because of who I am or how I spoke to him. Not because of the book I gave him. Not because of the short conversation we had. But because I saw him as someone who I would come back for. It was the greatest aha moment I had this year. In fact, it may be the greatest aha moment I have ever had.

Ever since that time, back in January this year, I have treated people – all people – differently. I have made every effort to pay attention, take notice, say hi, and just help them to feel that they are valued, worthy, and important. That one aha moment has made such a difference to me and my life. My question to you is, what was your greatest aha moment in 2023? How did it happen? How did it change you? What has happened as a result? I would love to hear from you, if you would like to share.

In my podcast this week called Better or bitter, Tracy Herbert talks about her own aha moment and how it transformed her life. At the age of 17 she was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and told she would not live for more than 20 years and would suffer for her whole life. In that moment, she decided to take control, and now at the age of 64, not only has she outlived her life expectancy by 27 years, she is living a life of joy and purpose.

With the right perspective, 2023 is a year full of treasures just for you. All you need to do is sift through it and you will discover an abundance of gifts, opportunities, lessons, and moments that can, and I hope have changed your life. Find the one significant aha moment for 2023 today.