Opinion

Make and keep a New Year’s resolution to be a volunteer

New Year’s resolutions are customarily made with an eye toward self-improvement, whether through ridding ourselves of bad habits (smoking, overeating, watching Fox News) or committing to beneficial ones (exercising regularly, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, saving for retirement.)

Those are certainly commendable goals, and anyone who follows through on them successfully and 12 months later is slimmer, healthier and happier should be congratulated.

But for many folks, commitment to fulfilling those New Year’s resolutions seems to wane, even before we get too deep into January.

To avoid that typical outcome, maybe a more workable approach is to make resolutions focused on improving the lives of others in some way, through volunteer work. There’s no shortage of opportunities or need for volunteers to help, whether at a church, a school, a hospice center, a food bank, a youth program such as scouting — take your pick.

And whether you commit to doing it twice a week, once a month or however often you can, you’ll have a schedule to follow that might just be effective motivation in keeping your resolution.

Instead of trying on your own to muster the willpower to resist having a cigarette or a jelly doughnut, you’ll have other folks expecting and encouraging you to show up when you said you would. If you indulge in a smoke or that high-calorie snack, you’ve only let yourself down; but if you’re a no-show for your volunteer role, you’ll be letting someone else down.

Keeping a New Year’s resolution to make a difference as a volunteer in your community won’t necessarily trim your waistline or swell your IRA, but it’s bound to make you feel better about yourself.

A quote about volunteerism attributed to Winston Churchill offers this insight: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

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