This post may be a little late to the game—after all, 2017 is almost two weeks old. In fact, statistics suggest that over a quarter of New Year’s resolutions have been broken already, and January isn’t even halfway over. That’s probably why I avoid making resolutions—I don’t want to become a statistic, another failed attempt at self-improvement.
However, I love making goals, even though I usually don’t start them on January 1. I’ve made several goals recently because I got a new (old-school paper) planner, and I’m often motivated by other events such as a new job, the start of the school year for my kids, or my birthday. The amazing thing to me is that even though I’ve been somewhat disorganized with my scattershot approach, I have managed to achieve more goals than I realized. Coming across old lists in various notebooks and planners, I have been pretty pleased with how many of my goals I’ve accomplished.
The key factors seem to be naming my goals, writing them down, and sharing them with others. When I have done these three things, it has given me a concrete result to work toward and a measure of accountability. Then I begin to move closer to these desired result. The more planning I do, the more quickly and thoroughly I achieve my goals, but even with a minimal amount of effort, goals that I recognize and commit to become part of my everyday actions.
In case you’re about to fall off the wagon (or you already have!) with your New Year’s resolutions, here are some ideas for specific, simple goals you can try out for the coming year. Maybe you made a resolution to be a kinder, more generous person. Follow it up with one or more of these goal ideas. You’ll be a better person in no time!
This one is easy. After the glut of giving opportunities surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of us feel like we’ve done our duty for the year. But community needs are year-round, and many non-profits struggle throughout the year. Consider making regular donations—the easiest way to make this a no-fail prospect would be to go to uwnu.org and set up a recurring donation, monthly or bi-weekly, for any amount you choose. For me, scheduled automatic deductions are the easiest way to give, and I don’t miss the money because it’s gone before I really think about it. This resolution has a one-time commitment if you set it up right, so you’re guaranteed not to break it! Another option is direct payroll deduction if your company participates in a workplace giving drive. (If you’re interested, contact us!) Or if you’re not ready to commit, you can make a goal to donate whenever a reputable charity asks throughout the year (grocery store drives, local kids fundraising for schools, or a community drive in your neighborhood).
Social media has made advocacy a daily part of our lives, but sometimes it’s important to advocate for a higher cause than saving our favorite TV shows from the cut list. Currently, we are partnering with United Way of Salt Lake to increase advocacy for Utah children and families during this year’s legislative session. We invite you to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay current on this year’s legislation. Commit to take an extra thirty seconds to share posts on issues you care about with your friends, and help us expand the reach of our message.
There are many ways to get involved in the political process, including contacting your local and state government officials (state contact info), attending local town hall meetings, and even becoming a neighborhood delegate for your political party caucus (next chance is 2018, you can make this a goal next year).
United Way is also involved on a national level with advocacy for programs that provide basic needs, increase education, and improve opportunities for sustainable income. For more information on current policy work, check out United Way Worldwide, and be sure to contact your senators and congressmen about the issues.
This last topic requires a little bit more effort and involvement, but the payoff is huge. Studies such as this one suggest that volunteering may result in a happier, longer life. From volunteering in your local schools to serving meals at a local shelter, there are opportunities for every level of ability and commitment.
For an opportunity to see lives change in a personal, one-on-one setting, check out our Welcome Baby program. Volunteers are trained to provide monthly in-home visits to moms with babies and toddlers from 0-3, providing parenting resources as well as support and advice from personal experience. The Read. Graduate. Succeed. program provides reading tutors to kids at local elementary schools who are falling behind and at risk of serious disadvantage if they don’t get help. For these and a variety of other volunteer opportunities right in your neighborhood, search JustServe.org for something that fits your schedule and interests.
Whatever your resolutions, be sure to include some concrete goals. Find a way to give, advocate, or volunteer this year and be confident that you will change lives, including your own!