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Happy New Year? Sure!

2017 will be remembered by many as a year of darkness, the post-apocalyptic struggles of a nation living in fear of its own ineptitude. For those of more practical, perhaps even positive bent, it was a year of protest, the fight to replace that which we understand to be flawed, with a new and improved way of doing things, i.e. leading our nation, educating our children, protecting our planet, and providing for the health and welfare of all our citizens as we round out these first 20 years of the 21st century.

I won't get all Dickensian on you, but it was surely the worst we have seen as a nation; and yet, so many continued to toil not only in the face of adversity but to push past it in an effort to fix what was broken even before 45 came into play.

There is a lot to be done, for sure. But now that we’re all over the shock of it, whether it’s the election itself, or a specific result from it, 2018 is the time to stop ranting and to engage in specific, positive action as part of this year’s go-forward plan.

Five Practical Steps to a Happy New Year

There won't be anything earth-shattering about these suggestions, but they may be surprising coming from me. I've been guilty of the darkness of 2017, not creating it, mind you, but sharing it openly. I was suffering from . . . pessimism. I'm moving on, and I'm inviting you all to join me.

1. Make a plan

Consider the next 12 months, and create a general plan that incorporates your professional, personal and political goals. There are many different ways to do this.

  • Start with a simple list to get brainstorming.

  • Use a calendar to chronologically map out your goals.

  • How about a little Excel?

  • Post-Its?

  • Try a mind mapping tool to sort out your ideas.

  • For the highly visual thinkers, create your own infographic journey. Anna Vitale at Adioma created this one, and you can use their tools to create your own:

2. Step back and evaluate your current job.

Most of us spend the bulk of our time working, so if we are not happy at what we are doing, it’s going to impact negatively on the overall plan for the year.

  • Can you identify what is missing from your job or what is causing you pain?

  • What can you do to change that?

  • Can you take classes at work or on your own to change your situation at this job or to help you prepare to move on?

  • Can you talk with your boss or manager to propose an alternative way of doing things?

3. Look at your friendships and familial relationships.

Relationships can provide strength or suck the energy right out of us. In tough times like these, it’s essential to have the support and to be able to provide others some of what they need as well. Email, Facebook, texting, and all other apps withstanding, how do you spend time with the people you value?

  • Do you make time to see your spouse outside of the home, away from the kids? Yep, I’m talking about date night, ladies and gentlemen!

  • When was the last time you had some friends over for a home cooked meal?

  • How often do you meet your friends for a cup of coffee, a meal, a movie?

4. Take part in at least one political action this year.

To prepare, read up on the issues. Five articles a day is like eating just one piece of chocolate. You should be craving more! Additionally, there's:

There are many ways to participate.

  • March for Women, Science, to end gun violence, whatever it is you believe in and can support in numbers. This does make a difference in where dollars are spent and where the votes go.

  • Support a campaign by making phone calls, getting signatures, handing out fliers, etc.

  • Use social media for a good cause! Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be great ways to spread the word when an important vote is coming up. More important than those adorable cats and talking huskies.

5. Contribute to or volunteer for one social impact organization working to end hunger, gun violence, poverty, whatever cause is important to you or that you would like to learn about this year.

The way we support organizations making impact today has changed and so has the way you can contribute. From the way food drives are run to how we can exchange skills to benefit social impact organizations, there’s a new way of doing things. Some ideas:

  • Amp Your Good: Crowdfeeding through an online platform that enables both hunger organizations and charities to meet their goals while avoiding the waste of traditional goods-based giving. Users can go online and choose specific fresh items that have been requested by the hunger organization as part of a campaign and donate those items through the platform.

  • Immersive local experiences that can be added to a traveler’s itinerary. provides the platform and marketing capability free of charge to NGOs, allowing them to generate additional income and cultural awareness. Corporate packages are available in addition to individual purchases.

  • Educational organizations: There are so many of these that deserve our attention, but a few that occupy my attention of late include:

  • Wells Mountain Initiative: From literacy programs to scholarship opportunities and a mission-based marketplace, Wells Mountain is making impact globally and provides multiple opportunities for participation.

  • Jiamini: Supports educational and infrastructure projects in the Mtwara region of Tanzania. Jiamini provides opportunities for volunteers, sponsors and donations in many different formats, including birthday and wedding registry contributions!

  • Samasource: Founded in 2008 by Leila Janah, Samasource is an impact sourcing organization that trains and employs low income people globally in digital work. To date, they have employed over 8,000 people from Kenya, Uganda, India, and Haiti.

  • VetToCEO: This organization offers a seven-week online entrepreneurship program developed by veterans for veterans. It's very practical and hands-on with weekly guest speakers, mentors, and realistic funding strategies.

  • Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America: Born out of the Sandy Hook shooting, there are many local chapters to get involved in to help support legislative change to protect our kids with more sensible gun laws. Review their site for valuable info.

  • Sandy Hook Promise: SHP takes a mental health and well approach and focuses their efforts on identifying and educating teachers, school officials, aw enforcement, and communities on preventing gun violence by understanding the causes behind it.

Find your passion, your cause. It could be as close to home as working in the church food pantry, helping children at your local library, or participating at an area senior center. Or it may be something more global like the Malala Fund. There is no shortage of causes to help make your 2018 a more productive year.

The Short Version

All of these suggestions amount to a few simple concepts that come out of a year in which there was way too much darkness, ranting, and complaining. I'm suggesting we turn that around.

The best lesson I ever learned was not in school, but on the job, from my friend and boss at the time, John Panaccione, who cautioned us as one of our company guiding principles "Never raise a problem without offering one or two potential solutions."

So, in short form, my recommendations for the coming year:

1. Live 2018 deliberately.

2. Choose your words wisely.

3. Always find a way to give back.

Have a great year, filled with good work, learning, and making an impact!


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As of January 2024, Rewriting Paradigms is back and I'm writing about today's  issues, those that most test us and our humanity.

Designs2Learn blogs were originally published on a separate site devoted solely to educational issues. 

With the release of the Rewriting Paradigms site, we' ported them over to their new home.

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