Even the most upbeat, optimistic, energetic people sometimes get into a rut. The same-old, same-old can get you down and make the horizon look bleak. To get out of that rut, it helps — psychologically, physically and emotionally — to have a breaking point, a juncture at which you can make a clean getaway.
The start of a new year can be just that.
Whether 2013 was a dismal disappointment or a resounding success, 2014 can be a new beginning for local residents and for the community as a whole. In the latter case, we must focus on what is truly important and not get distracted by the petty stuff.
So, here are three simple suggestions to help you play a role in making Madison County a better place in 2014:
1. Make the 2014 county elections (sheriff, council, commissioner and other positions are on the ballot) all about the issues and candidate qualifications.
If you’re a staunch Republican or a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, change your outlook by considering candidates on the other side. Who has the best experience to get the job done? Who has the best ideas to make county government use tax dollars wisely while improving public services?
If everyone were to use these criteria for voting, we’d have a better group of public servants, ergo a better government infrastructure.
2. Focus on learning.
Madison County has a low rate of residents (17 percent versus the national average of 29 percent) with a four-year college degree. Perhaps as distressingly, many locals give up learning after they get out of high school; they’re not nearly aware enough of the world around them.
If you commit yourself to learning three things — new facts, how to cook a new dish, how to use new technology, etc. — a day, you’ll be armed with more than 1,000 scraps of new knowledge by the end of the year.
Even if you don’t have the time or money to take a college class, you can use the local library or other resources (like the newspaper!) for learning. Not only will it make you smarter, it will set a good example for others in your sphere of influence.
3. Give back to the community.
Do it for others, or do it for yourself. Either way, you benefit, and so do others.
What are you passionate about? Animals? Children? Sports? Neighborhoods? Literacy? Human rights? The environment?
The local United Way, The Salvation Army and dozens of other organizations can hook you up with a program that appeals to you. You’ll find that helping others helps you.
Now that the great recession of 2009 is in our rear-view mirrors, it’s the right time to break with the past and focus on the future. Already, the local economy is beginning to shape up (unemployment is at its lowest rates since the recession hit).
You can continue to muck about in the rut, or you can make a commitment in 2014 to a better direction. Your family, your friends, your neighbors — everyone is counting on you to choose the latter.
In summary Whether 2013 was a disappointment or a success, 2014 can be a new beginning for local residents and for the community as a whole.