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Happy New Year.  Welcome to 2011.  I for one never thought I'd make it this far that's for sure.  I can remember as a youngster thinking about historic milestones in the future and wondering if I'd make it to them.  One was Haley's Comet return in 1986.  The second was the turn of the century.  I made them both with a bit of luck I might add, surviving the military, a tour in Viet Nam, 29 years in the paper industry, and driving on our nation's highways at times without a lot of sense. The latter perhaps is the minor miracle.

The new year gives us time to pause and reflect on the past and our hopes for the future.  This process I've read is a basic need for us humans.  We must take a moment occasionally to gather our thoughts and renew our values and commitments.  It's a recharging so to speak, a seemingly necessary process in order for us to function at our best or perhaps to function at all.

Jim Thompson added his prognostications for the upcoming year in a recent Nip Impressions helping us along with this process.  Jim is an "idea" man.  He can through out thoughts faster than I can assimilate them sometimes.  However, it only takes one good idea to spark a fire in your soul.  It's the thinking that for a project to be successful, there has to be one champion for the cause.  It only takes one enthusiastic individual with a never-give-up attitude to bring on success.

So what about 2011?  What puts a fire in your gut?  (Besides the BBQ sauce that is).

Good examples for us are our past US presidents.  We are blessed to have some still around after their terms in office.  Several have taken up a cause and surprisingly a singular cause to pursue in their "retirement."  Jimmy Carter obviously comes to mind winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work promoting world peace and social justice.

Other examples are the international service clubs like Rotary, Civitan, and Lions.  Rotary International for example took up the cause to eliminate polio from the world.  As of last year they had almost succeeded with the recorded number of world wide cases in only the 100s.  Other service organizations have equally focused projects.

Jim Collins has written several books on how companies are successful.  The common thread seems to be having a basic goal that doesn't change with the wind.  Again a focused mission.

If you are among those people who are doing what you love, this is a  time to reflect on your fortunate circumstances.  If instead you are like many of us who are doing what you must to survive, like it or not, take time to see what you can to do improve your situation.  What are you really good at? What do you like to do?  Find activities that increase your participation in these activities so that you can do what you must with the knowledge that you will soon be doing more of what you really do well.

So here's to 2011.  May she be a great year for each and everyone of you.

Gene Canavan is retired and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA

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