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The essence of New Year's is contained in the simple question, “What if?” As in, what if this is the year for all of those hopes and dreams to become a reality?

The turning of the year is filled with an abundance of hope, inspiring dreams and renewed optimism. There is something magical about the fresh start emanating from a new calendar that promotes big goals, fosters new resolutions and drives an inner desire to do better. The essence of New Year's is contained in the simple question, “What if?” As in, what if this is the year for all of those hopes and dreams to become a reality?

If “what if” were a currency with transformational potential and true possibility, here is what I would spend it on:

What if 2019 is the year I actually keep my resolutions beyond Jan. 21?

What if I spent less time deciding and more time doing at work, at home and in my relationships?

What if I acted on the inspiration and impulses to reach out to those around me?

What if I spoke less and listened more?

What if I was less certain in my opinions and more open to the ideas of others?

What if I stopped comparing the status of my life to the social media status of others?

What if I read more and watched less?

What if I was less consumed with self and more driven by making a difference for those around me?

What if I stopped reading and regurgitating someone else’s talking points in political discussions?

What if I focused on being a role model instead of a critic?

What if I gave my spouse, children, family, friends, colleagues and community members the benefit of the doubt?

What if I spent my time on the priorities I claim are most important?

What if I was more grateful?

What if I kept my commitments?

What if I decided to slow down more often and determined to purposefully disconnect from technology for at least one hour a day, one day a week and one week a year?

What if Congress did its job and passed a budget so there would be no threat of government shutdowns, fiscal cliffs and other manufactured crises?

What if we rejected the politics of personal destruction and focused on principles and policies?

What if members of Congress were less worried about re-election and more concerned with doing what is right for the American people?

What if the American people realized that community and culture lead and the politicians follow?

What if citizens realized there is much more that unites than divides the nation?

What if we recognized that the solution to any problem begins when someone says, “let's talk about it.”

What if we all understood that solutions to problems don’t emanate from Washington but are found in our homes, neighborhoods and communities?

What if everyone engaged in elevated dialogue instead of partisan rhetoric?

What if citizens rejected the false choices regularly served up by politicians?

What if we all expected more, not less, from leaders?

What if we expected more from ourselves?

This may seem like an impossibly unrealistic list. But what if we tried anyway?

A new year offers each of us new challenges and new opportunities — what we choose to do and how we choose to pursue those challenges and opportunities will determine the success of our days, weeks, months, years, careers and personal legacies. For many, the anticipation of what might be swiftly falls in the face of procrastination or even just pleasant distractions.

John Greenleaf Whittier wrote, "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"

1 comment on this story

There is nothing more haunting than, “What might have been!” Truly the echo of a “what if” unfulfilled rings long and loud. Whether that “what if” is for an individual, organization, community or nation, unfulfilled potential is a waste of the world’s most prized natural resource.

The challenge then is to be in a state of action — focused action, while remembering that guilt-producing perfection is not required nor is it even the goal. Trying, engaging and doing things differently is both what matters and what leads to positive results. The test for each of us individually and all of us collectively is to take our “what if” and make it a “what is!” in 2019.