I Resolve NOT to Resolve

I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I suppose that it has something to do with the fact that I can never seem to maintain them for the entire year. New Year’s Resolutions have always been a way for me to set myself up for short-term (at times way too short) success and long-term disappointment. I experience more success when I set out to do something positive for myself and my family and I do not associate the decision with any particular time of year. These usually turn out to be positive changes that last a lifetime. They remain consistently on my mental radar and as I adopt them as a way of life, I need to focus on them less and less. Some of my more lasting life changes have been: regular exercise, healthier eating choices, spending quality (“ifree” in nature) time with my kids, and volunteering my time to help others in need.

Even though many of the things I do are not resolutions, I have had to conciously commit and recommit to them at times. Take volunteering, for example, I get a lot of joy out of helping others in need and like many of you, I have felt the forces of the financial strain that the country has been under for the past few years. So volunteering my time has been a way for me to help others without further straining my pocketbook. Plus I have tons of fun, I get to meet other people with similar interests, and I make lasting friendships and community connections. Dr. Martin Luther King himself acknowledged the importance of volunteerism stating, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’

Volunteering has been so rewarding for me that I have recently decided to share the experience with my children. I have become very purposeful by involving them in planning and selecting our family volunteer opportunities. It has been a great way for us to spend quality family time together and they benefit from the experience of volunteering. Volunteering teaches them very important life skills and values. They learn, for example, that there are a LOT of hungry, homeless, and sick people (and animals) in our community. They learn that their time is valuable, both for themselves and others. They learn that people are counting on them and they need to act responsibly. They learn the importance of community and their role(s) in the community. Most importantly, they learn that one simple act of kindness can change someone’s life forever and that makes it all worth it.

I encourage all parents to consider ways that they and their families can get involved through volunteering. One great opportunity is president Obama’s annual Day of Service in honor of Dr. King. This year it is on Saturday January 19th and there are volunteer opportunities in 50 states around the country. It is so easy to get involved. Just go to https://www.2013pic.org/service and type in your zip code. All of the volunteer opportunities in your area will pop up on a map and you can choose the one that best suits you and your family. There are both indoor and outdoor opportunities around Linn and Benton Counties for adults and children of all ages. You are never too young or too old to be part of this important day.

So I hope you will join my family and I on Saturday and get involved in a volunteer opportunity in your area. We’ll have fun, meet new friends, reconnect with old friends, and help others along the way.

Don’t resolve to do it. Just do it!