Every new year, millions of  people compile a list of things they want to improve in their lives — lose a few pounds, get a better job (or just a job), exercise more, drink less. As modifying our habits becomes more of a struggle than previously imagined, too many ditch the new for the old. But perhaps it isn’t the struggle that is the hardest part. Maybe it’s the fact that we are trying to do too much alone. This year, however, if we change how we accomplish tasks, not just change the things we do, we might be able to fulfill our new year’s resolutions. While we set goals to reach independently, maybe as a community we could also accomplish a few things together.

First, with election season on the horizon (first the local supervisor seats, then congressional seats and the presidency not too far off), we could stop letting partisan politics divide us. Since California did away with two-party primary election in 2010, residents across Ventura County could come together and discuss the candidates for their districts in a rational fashion and vote together as a community. With a cooperative mindset, we could see the types of politicians in office who will listen to all of their constituents and make changes that satisfy the community as a whole, rather than just a polarized few. There is even a possibility that candidates will leave dirty politics and mudslinging behind if we lead by example.

This year, instead of individually vowing to make changes to better our environment and be more eco-friendly, we can decide to do take on these challenges together. Talk to your co-workers and your neighbors, exchange e-mail addresses, and then see if you can coordinate carpools once a week. As a result, we would save money on gas and keep toxic chemicals out of the environment. Perhaps with the money saved each week, we could promise to eat healthier and even give organic produce a try. Regardless of any person’s position on pesticides, surely we could all do without as many toxic chemicals in our diet.

We could also decide to reduce our electricity intake by keeping our televisions and game consoles (even our computers) off for longer periods of time while we are home and, as an alternative, choose to ride our bikes, go for hikes, make art projects from nature’s bounty, etc. By getting out more, we increase our opportunities for a variety of improvements to our lives, including in the areas of our health, our families, even our careers.

Suggesting that we could come together to improve our lives as a community and even consequently accomplish certain changes individually may be a bit utopian. But as we head into 2012, we could choose an alternative to the status quo because, obviously, the direction we have been heading for years as a society has only led down a dark and dismal path. Let’s make 2012 about the “we,” not about the “me.”