Do you cringe at the thought of new year’s resolutions? In the back of your mind, do you think it’s futile and you’re doomed to fail? You are not alone! According to U.S. News & World Reports, 80% of new year’s resolutions fail and most of us lose our resolve by mid-February.1 What can we do to improve our odds for success?
Human nature rebels against being told what to do, even if we’re doing the telling ourselves. In fact, we make more unreasonable demands on ourselves than anyone else—many of us want to be someone other than who we are—perhaps we want to be super mom/dad or be the employee of the year. Maybe we want to lower our cholesterol without medication or fend off diabetes. To increase our chances of achieving our resolutions, the question we need to ask is, “Is it realistic?”
The most common resolutions relate to Active Wellness. For example, we want to get in shape, then stay fit and healthy. We therefore resolve to exercise more, eat healthier food, get more quality sleep and reduce stress. Theoretically these are good resolutions. However, year after year, we may not achieve our fitness goals. Why do we continue to make the same resolutions without a plan of attack?
Once a plan and actual steps are implemented, the loftiest resolutions become action items to perform daily, weekly and monthly—at the end of the year, chances are we will have done better at keeping our resolutions. In addition to putting together a real and do-able plan to achieve our resolutions, there’s another way to help accomplish our goals. The National Community Service reports that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression later in life.2
Because volunteering is service-oriented and is outside of our own regular lives, it allows us to meet a variety of people. Increasing social interactions, especially when it helps others, leaves us with a good feeling of accomplishment. This feeling stimulates a positive attitude that helps us stay on course for Active Wellness. A study conducted by Harvard University showed that volunteers experience similar health benefits to those who exercise regularly.3
Some ways to volunteer can be done solo while others involve participating in a group. You can be a Big Brother or Sister, participate in many types of nonprofit organizations, work with churches, schools and clubs, become a trainee at local animal shelters and sanctuaries, serve at soup kitchens, canvas for food and clothing drives, or simply pick up each piece of trash you happen upon on a beach walk. It’s truly a win-win— do good within the community, feel good about ourselves and get healthier.