The statistics on keeping New Years resolutions aren’t pretty.
At the beginning of each new year, nearly half of the American public makes resolutions to change aspects of their lives. Some vow to lose the extra weight they’ve been carrying around, save more money for retirement, or try their luck with online dating. We’re notorious for committing to big, bold plans, only to lose steam a few weeks later.
It’s a great concept, though. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all set small, meaningful goals that made our years on the planet progressively more productive, intentional, healthy or enjoyable?
While I tend to avoid using the “resolution” label, there’s a part of me that gets really excited every time January 1st rolls around. Who doesn’t love a fresh slate, even if it’s only real in our minds?
So, for 2017, let’s all focus on being the best versions of ourselves possible. To help out with some inspiration for keeping New Years resolutions, I’ve compiled a little list of ways you can get started .
Lead a Healthier Life
Losing weight is the most popular New Year’s resolution set each year. But it’s not just weight loss that contributes to a healthy and happy lifestyle. There are so many little things you can do that contribute to positive changes in your overall health, mood or physical appearance that aren’t weight-related.
Whether you’re dreaming of trekking to Machu Picchu or just want to be able to keep up with your kids (or grandkids), staying fit and leading an active lifestyle has never been more important. And there’s also never been more support available to help turn your goals into realities.
Want to learn to eat better, more nutritious food? You can use online health coaches or food bloggers to help get you jump-started in the kitchen. One of my goals for 2017 is to learn how to make a few healthy and hearty recipes in a crock pot!
There are also companies who are making fitness and healthy living more accessible and affordable than ever. In fact, many opportunities are free! Bender Fitness is a free fitness website updated daily with new, free video workouts that you can complete from home.
The November Project has started up in many cities around the U.S, offering free morning outdoor workouts, even in what might be deemed “winter weather.” This is also a great way to connect with others in your community who are committing themselves to regular workouts.
So if making 2017 a healthier year is on your radar, there’s really no reason to hold back. There have never been more resources available to help you make it happen!
Vote with your Dollar
A little over half of the country was likely disappointed in the results of November’s election, but no matter where you stand politically, with a new year upon us there are so many ways to stand by what you believe in and make your voice heard.
One very important consideration is that of using your purchasing power to support organizations, businesses and causes that are important to you. It’s called voting with your dollar, and in this case, every single dollar truly counts!
I started being more careful about which companies I choose to support with my paychecks last year, and it has been much easier than I thought. All it takes is a little thought and, in this case, a click or two.
The cause that really motivated me to start making more conscious buying decisions was animal testing, when I volunteered with an organization and learned more about the horrible treatment that animals endure. I decided to make a change, and found an app called Cruelty Cutter that allows me to scan any product’s barcode to determine whether or not animal testing was used to develop the product.
Shopping now takes a little bit longer some days, but it’s well worth it to know that I’m supporting companies with values aligned to my own. And it’s extended into other choices I make when buying a new product, too!
So if buying American-made products is important to you, or you want to ensure that you’re supporting fair trade organizations, it’s never been easier to find organizations or companies that are operating with principles you support.
Discover a New Way to Travel
For many of us, travel is very important. It’s an escape from our daily lives-something we look forward to and plan all year- and adds so much richness to our lives.
If you like to change it up and see different, unique, and exotic locales on your vacations, perhaps 2017 is the year you finally check a major destination off your bucket list!
Or, if you’re looking for something different and adventurous, maybe trying a new type of travel is in the cards.
I really enjoyed this little list, put together by Travel + Leisure, of resolutions for the avid traveler. It includes things like planning ahead to get better travel deals, committing to one airline in order to take advantage of perks, and several other tricks that make traveling more affordable, convenient, or enjoyable.
But they also included one suggestion on their list that I really connected with: “Take a trip that does good.”
Working with Discover Corps has allowed me to see what a huge difference traveling with purpose can make in the lives of both the travelers themselves, as well as those who are supported in the communities they visit.
With projects from distributing water filters in the Dominican Republic to helping collect wildlife data with conservationists in South Africa, traveling to do good can match up with your interests and passions in a way that brings your vacation to life in an entirely new way.
These opportunities also offer plenty of down time to explore unique sites, engage with local people, or simply relax. But for most Discover Corps travelers, it’s the time spent working on their purposeful project that makes their vacation so memorable. If you haven’t tried taking a vacation on which you give, as well as receive, maybe 2017 is the year to do it!
Cheers to a meaningful and magical new year! –Sara McDaniel
Are you making any New Years resolutions that will hopefully lead to a healthier, happier, more productive 2017? Let us know in the comments!
BIO: Sara McDaniel is a San Diego-based educator who uses her summers to explore the world, often alongside her students! In addition to writing for The Volunteer Traveler, she has directed international programming for various travel organizations. When she’s not writing or researching, she can often be found swimming in the ocean, eating all of the delicious foods she can find, and teaching in San Diego State University’s College of Education.