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Making an Altruistic Resolution for the New Year

The time is drawing near, and the final minutes of 2012 are ticking away. With a new year comes new promises, new hope and new resolutions. So what will you choose? You could focus on losing a few pounds, kicking a bad habit or mastering a new talent. And while there is nothing wrong with those resolutions, you could also make a difference in the world with a simple altruistic resolution. Here’s how to turn your resolution into a meaningful act to celebrate and keep all year long.

Involve the Most People
It’s one thing to make a resolution for you. But it’s another to leave a lasting impression on a community or group of people. Consider what the University of Pennsylvania started by simply sparking conversation. They challenged students to choose service-minded resolutions instead of self-centric.

Project leader and Pennsylvania University Chaplain Chaz Howard said, “By declaring [their resolutions] publically, there’s more accountability and a personal challenge—it’s not a secret solution.”

Resolutions started pouring in to the tune of 500 in the first year of the project. Simply by talking about the subject, the idea was widely discussed. This response all happened within a few months. Start talking, and the ideas will spread like wildfire.

Pick Something Near to Your Heart
Volunteering may be a new activity, but that doesn’t mean the whole idea has to be foreign. Start by pinpointing what makes you happy and go from there. There’s bound to be an organization out there that shares your passion. Even if you’re a newbie to the volunteering world, you’ll feel at home knowing that the mission mirrors your beliefs. Plus, you’ll be more likely to keep the resolution if it involves something you care about.

If you feel strongly about helping the environment, break out the garden gloves and volunteer at an organization that landscapes parks or community gardens. If you’re passionate about animals, head down to the local animal shelter to get a good dose of furry friends and doing good. Name your passion, and then make a resolution to help enact the change.

Kick Ambiguity to the Curb
Being a little mysterious has worked on some occasions. However, ambiguity is also the number one reason that resolutions never see the light of day. If there are no provisions on how the resolution will be reached, then it’s easier to stray from your mission. Simply stating that you want to impact an organization is a good start, but you need to keep pushing.

To move past the initial goal, set a number of hours that you’d like to achieve volunteering. Then divide it into weeks or months so that you have a manageable deadline. Each specific milestone will add up and provide instant gratification. And the more you volunteer, the easier it will be to make it a habit.

And if you want grow weary, remind yourself of the organization’s mission. By inspiring yourself of the reason that you’re volunteering, you’ll be more likely to keep up your resolution.