It's been a few weeks since the start of the New Year, and that cracking noise may be the sound of resolutions breaking.
New Year's resolutions have become something of a cultural joke, but they do serve a purpose. They allow us to step back, re-evaluate our priorities and focus on our goals, with the hope of making the year ahead better than the last.
For those of us who feel the pressure to 'be a better person', this often means 'look like a better person' by eating better, dressing better and breaking bad habits. If you're not careful, though, New Year's resolutions can be all about 'me': I'm going to lose weight; I'm going to exercise, get a promotion, break my Downton Abbey addiction.
There's nothing wrong with these classic resolutions, but promises like these tend to fall by the wayside when they stand to benefit only one person.
This year, why not consider a list of socially conscious resolutions that makes a difference to your family, community, or even the world - little ones and big ones, every day habits and long-term plans. You might just find the motivation to see it through.
Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:
• If one of your new goals is to exercise, why not sign up for a charity run with your partner or children? Make the commitment and start training together for some fun and active quality time. Securing sponsors to donate to the cause will also help you stay on track.
• Clean your house for a cause. If a massive wardrobe clean out is on your to-do list for January, enlist the whole family to go through their rooms and collect things they no longer use, like toys and clothes the kids have outgrown. Donate these items to a local women's refuge or service organisation, and help keep another family warm this winter.
• Set aside family nights to play games or to cook meals together. Don't sacrifice this time for other priorities. Create new family traditions that are meaningful and make a difference, like volunteering together or spending an afternoon doing random acts of kindness.
• Start your own mini mentorship programme. Lead a free seminar at the local library or community centre. Offer anything from cooking to computer lessons - share your skill set and your passion.
• Find articles in your local newspaper about issues you care about, cut them out and post them on your fridge. Start a conversation about these issues with your family, and think about how you can take action together. Budding environmentalists, for example, might decide to change energy-sucking light bulbs, take the bus or bike more often, or collect litter in the park on weekends.
• Make a habit out of gratitude. Invite every person around the dinner table to express thanks for something that happened during the day. A first step to finding happiness is to recognise and be grateful for what we have.
Want to find more ways to connect as a family and give back? As an international charity and educational partner with an 18-year history of working with youth all over the world, Free The Children, among its many initiatives, provides educational resources on local and global issues, to help you make a difference.
From fun activities you can do at home to awareness and fund raising campaigns, visit www.freethechildren.com. An initiative of Free The Children, We Day is a series of events that inspire and empower young people to be active local and global citizens. We Day UK makes its debut on March 7 at the Wembley Arena.
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