I hate New Year’s resolutions, which seems odd, because I’m all about people making plans and having “end-games” in mind. I think it’s mostly because I think starting a New Year in cold, dark January is the worst time to inspire people to begin again. A new year should start when the world is new, in lovely, green spring, with renewal all around; not when the sun goes down at 5:30 p.m. in the evening and everything looks dead.

Since I am not inclined to start a petition to change the beginning of the New Year to April (I would be willing to sign any petition to stop the twice-yearly clock-changes!), we’re stuck with using January as a jumping-off point to how to we want the next year to go.

You’ll see people listing their plans all over Facebook: weight-loss, new education, travels plans, etc., and some people need that, that kind of accountability and, hopefully, encouragement. That’s a good thing about social media: people (for the most part) will let you know they’re proud of the changes you’ve made, and cheer you along your journey.

What you don’t see is a lot of businesses, government offices, and organizations setting out their New Year goals. There’s a very good reason for that: customers, citizens, and supporters have very different expectations for their businesses and government than they do for their friends. If a friend tells you they’re going to lose twenty pounds in a year, and don’t, you wouldn’t leave them a public comment asking what happened to all that weight they’re going to lose. If a city announced they were building a new park, and then didn’t add so much as a bench to a sidewalk, the comments would never end.

That’s a little disheartening, and if I have only one New Year resolution, it’s this one: resolve to support your city, your county, your businesses, and your charities with the same encouragement you would your friend. If the county announces they’re going to put in a new boat ramp, tell them you look forward to seeing it. If a business owner adds a new line to their retail store, let them know you’ll check it out. If a charity decides to try out a new fundraiser, message them to say you’re interested and ask any questions you might have. It’s the difference between adding positivity to our community and continually adding a negative spin.

“But Ceason,” some of you will say, “I’m just being honest! Shouldn’t my city/business/charity appreciate that I’m helping them by pointing out the mistakes they’re making?” Yes, they would, if that honesty comes with a path to solution. But so often people use the “honesty” excuse to mitigate what is a personal complaint with no idea, and no real desire, to fix what they don’t like.

Maybe you don’t like the red bows on the poles at Christmas time, but have you offered to paint them another color and help hang them? You think we need a dedicated steakhouse in the county, but you don’t go out and support the restaurateurs who might be able to make that idea a reality. You think we need better library programs, but you don’t offer to volunteer to help create those new programs. It’s not enough to be “honest,” because at some point, all your honesty just looks like complaining.

You’ve got to present a path to solution, or talk about your concerns with someone who can help you formulate that path. The city, the county, the businesses, and the charities, would love to have people who are really passionate about making things better, actually helping. If you’ve got a great idea, find the people who are working in that same area and find out how you can get involved. Positive, constructive help will never be turned away.

So have a fantastic 2020, JCO, and let’s all make one resolution together: we’re going to support our community in a positive manner, so that when we have a complaint, we also present a path to solution. Let’s resolve to make the JCO better through real action, and together, we’ll be the change we all want to see.