Another year will soon be behind us, and what a year it’s been. Economic turmoil, tepid consumer spending, layoffs, wary lenders, clubs closing, club owners delaying purchasing. And that doesn’t even include whatever the year held for you personally.

Now is as good a time as any to sit back and think about what you’ve learned this year—because if you haven’t learned anything, then your struggles have been for naught. Here’s what I’ve learned:

Never rest on your laurels. If you think you are doing well and don’t need to improve, you’re in for a rude awakening. You must stay on top of the future, anticipate what’s to come and adapt.

Change is constant—and that’s not always a bad thing. As comfortable as the status quo may be, change keeps things from getting stale, and it provides an opportunity for growth.

Fear can trap you. Making decisions—or shying away from making decisions—because of fear often causes you to skip out on challenges that, had you accepted them, would have strengthened you or your business. Worse yet, it can cause you to miss tremendous opportunities.

Keep at least one challenger in your life. Someone who brings a different point of view to your discussions can allow you to expand your view of business and the world. In addition, one good competitor causes you to step up your game, making your business better.

Surround yourself with support. Good friends and staff members are invaluable when times are tough and the workload is heavy. Empower those people to do what they are good at so your life is easier and your business is healthier. In turn, be their support when they need it.

This is the new norm, at least for now. The money you had to cut from your budget and the staff you had to lay off are not coming back anytime soon. You’ll need to let go of some of the less important things on your plate. You’ll also need to work smarter and as a more cohesive group to get the results you want.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try and how much you want something, you will fail. Evaluate what went wrong and what you should do differently next time. Then, set another goal and go at it with the same vigor as before.

Offer a kind word and a smile to brighten someone’s day. No matter how gloomy you think things are, don’t spread around that gloom. Finding something positive to say instead of complaining brightens the gloom a bit for everyone. Mentioning to members that you’ve noticed their weight loss and encouraging them to keep it up will make them beam because you noticed them and their efforts. Praising staff members for a job well done may not substitute for your inability to offer a raise, but it shows that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

Few things are as bad as they seem. Everything usually works out, even if it’s not exactly as you initially planned. Often, surprising solutions present themselves when you keep an open mind and an open ear to those around you.

Keep your moral compass. Even when you are tempted to give in to the easy but suspect option, hold your ground. No one wants to be associated with someone who sells out easily.

Those are just some of the lessons I learned this year. I bet many of them are ones you can relate to as well.

Pamela Kufahl is editor of Club Industry magazine. This is her First Word column from the December 2010 issue.