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Politics: 7 Ways to Get Involved Now

Politics: 7 Ways to Get Involved Now

    If you have, by some miracle, managed to avoid all manner of news lately, you might be surprised to know that there’s a U.S. presidential election in less than a month. Even if you are aware of it, you may be reluctant to get involved or just not sure where to start. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting that you vote for one candidate over the other, but I would like to make a few suggestions for getting in on some of that political action.

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    1. Start with your own paperwork

    I’m always surprised to find out how many people aren’t registered to vote. Even if you’ve gotten the necessary paperwork in to your county board of elections, you will probably need to confirm that the paperwork went through if you really want to vote on November 4. On top of that, you’ll want to know where your polling place is and the local hours. The easiest way to find out all of this information is to get on to your county board of elections’ website: what information isn’t prominently displayed on the website is available through the phone number also displayed online.

    2. Get involved in the process

    I know plenty of people who have volunteered for one campaign or the other, but there is one organization that really needs involvement in order to make sure that elections go off without a hitch: the county board of elections. Specifically, it seems like almost every county still needs election judges for the upcoming vote. Qualifications are simple — in most states, polling places are required to be run by an equal number of Democrats and Republicans. You have to be already registered to vote, but beyond that there are very few requirements. Some states will even pay you.

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    In the same vein, there are a number of non-partisan groups that observe the election to insure that there is no hanky-panky with any of the ballot boxes. The League of Women Voters is one of the best known groups, although there are quite a few. Many of these groups are particularly looking for volunteers with technical knowledge to visit polling places with electronic voting machines.

    3. Look at the local

    Despite the fact that there’s minimal turnout for local elections, I firmly believe that pulling the lever for my local school board is more important than voting for president. In the grand scheme of things, it’s easier to find someone willing and able to address your issue at the local level than higher up the political food chain. But to be able to make the local political structure work for you, you have to first vote for local politicians who share your concerns about issues. Most states have local amendments and elections on the ballot this fall: take the time to read up on them and consider getting involved at the local level.

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    4. Support your candidate with more than a vote

    Most campaigns — whether for candidates or causes — are run on a shoe string budget. The fundraising done by the two major party candidates is certainly not the norm. And while I’m confidant that those candidates wouldn’t mind either my cash or my time, I’ve thought long and hard about where my contributions will wind up. Sure I’m supporting one candidate for president in particular, but I’m also devoting a little time and money to some candidates in the state government out my way.

    5. Consider running yourself

    The filing deadline for the 2008 election has passed in most areas, but I think that running for even a small, local position comes with some rewards. I have my eye on a couple of jobs myself and while I’m not ready to run this year, I’m seriously considering it as a future opportunity. After all, it’s easier to get things done if you’re already a part of the system.

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    To become part of the system, you don’t necessarily need to take office, though. You can also become active in the local leadership of your political party. For some of us who are a little less inclined to the spotlight, such an approach might be preferable: you can still be involved in setting policy, but you’re less likely to find a camera crew at your front door.

    6. Provide others with the chance to get involved

    Something as simple as rounding a couple of friends and taking them to the polling place with you can have a phenomenal affect on the election. There’s a reason that both major political parties consider their ‘get out the vote’ efforts absolutely critical. If you really believe a particular cause, though, go beyond getting involved yourself and help others with similar concerns get involved. That can translate into getting signatures on a petition, recruiting people to help you with a cause and more. No matter what, though, remember that we’re living in a democracy. You can’t get much of anything done politically here if you don’t have the support of at least a few people.

    7. Start now

    Sure, the next election is less than a month away. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get involved now. These are the days when campaign volunteers get a little scarce, as those who have been with the campaign for months at this point get tired. There are also more than a few campaigns that need only a few thousand votes to tip them into victory. Now is the time to get involved. Don’t wait for next year, or worse, the next presidential election.

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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