Another new year is upon us, and with it comes the promise of fresh starts, new challenges, and possibilities to step up.

At the same time, the turn from the calendar can be paralyzing. If we feel stuck, disappointed, or hopeless about our circumstances, it can seem as though nothing we all do matters or makes a difference. Why bother?

I have the sense this is how many people feel about your our nation. We’ve just endured a contentious midterm-election year, and regardless of our political beliefs, or who won some loot their bids, it’s difficult to argue that our country or our representatives were at their best. Many of us are frustrated with the teardown nature of politics — the polarizing discourse, the hostility, the divisiveness — yet we’re not sure there’s anything we as individuals can perform to stop it.

I get it. I’ve needed to consciously step away and be less immersed in politics at times. But I think now we have an opportunity to encourage our leadership to focus less on partisanship and more on collaboration. I’d prefer to make the case that we have to get this done for the sake of our country’s health as a whole.

Just as our bodies suffer when our physical, mental, and emotional well-being are inundated with unhealthy in-puts, so does our democracy. Chronic stress can lead to widespread discontent, whether it occur in the human body or in a society. If we continue on this negative trajectory, things continues to break down, leaving a lot of problems for future generations to deal with.

I believe we are able to reverse this course by making it clear to the leaders that we expect them to pursue a more positive, cooperative path. Instead of passively standing by, we have to challenge them to shift from focusing on what’s wrong using the other side’s point of view to cooperating toward policies that move many of us forward.

And now is the time: This month, as officials take the positions we elected them to, we have to hold them accountable to honorably work with the good of our country and it is citizens. We have to respectfully demand that, instead of spending their time and energy (and our resources) on in eliminating, they constructively debate the problems and offer up collaborative solutions using the best interests of our nation and its people at the forefront.

So whether or not you’re worried about the status quo, I think we can all agree that people want to be part of creating a society that’s better than the one we inherited and much more positive than the one we’re in. And that we can do this by taking action.

Perhaps it’s making phone calls or sending emails or letters to convey and national representatives or showing up at the local city-council meeting. It may be joining a social movement that sends a loud and clear message to the leaders that we expect more. Adding #politicsforthegoodofall on social posts to our leaders could be the thing that will get their attention and inspires others to get involved, too.

They may seem small, but these actions could, in fact, set the wheels in motion for significant change, progress, or growth.

As we ask for this behavior from our leaders, we also need to commit to it within our own lives. Instead of engaging in combative discussions with someone who holds a differing opinion, try to shift the conversation to why you’re both enthusiastic about a topic in the first place. See where you can find common ground. Remember that there’s a reason this person is in your life, and start from a place of mutual respect.

Our opinions and beliefs are part of us, but they don’t define or from the whole of who we are. We have to remember that when it comes down to business, we’re more alike than different.

I think that each of us has it in us to create the change we want to see in our world if we’re willing to take responsibility, step outside our comfort zones, and fully stand up for what we believe. It starts with us, however it doesn’t end with us. We are able to show not only our leaders but also future generations that there is a better, more united way.