Here we are once more – another Christmas has been celebrated, the turkey leftovers have finally been consumed and as we look forward to another, hopefully fortuitous 2018, many people are considering making a New Year’s resolution.
January has, of course, long been a time of year when many people choose to exercise more restraint in their day-to-day lives, which could explain why the trend for giving things up in the New Year has become so popular. After the festive season, when bank balances deplete and waist lines expand, it is inevitable that almost everyone knows someone who has decided to steer clear of things like chocolate or alcohol, often to save money or to get back in shape.
Don’t get me wrong; I admire the good intentions and the optimism with which these New Year’s resolutions are made. However, as it turns out, we’re really not very good at sticking to our resolutions here in the UK – particularly those that involve giving something up, according to a new survey.
According to the research, more than two thirds of people in the UK admit to having made a New Year’s resolution they haven’t kept. The findings also highlight a tendency for people to give things up in January, with 62% of respondents claiming that they have tried to give something up before. However, despite their good intentions, most people who try to give things up say they usually don’t get through the month without cheating or going back to their old ways, and more than half don’t reach the goals that they set out to achieve.
More to the point – for me, at any rate – is that giving things up can be a miserable undertaking. What’s the point of depriving ourselves of something enjoyable if we don’t see any real benefits? Why torture ourselves by refusing tempting food and drink or (as almost a third of survey respondents admit) by feeling guilty if we cheat on our resolutions?
My suggestion to you this year is don’t do it; don’t give something up in January. Try giving something back instead, by spending a little of your time helping others.
You see, the thing that struck me the most about the research is that although people in the UK are much more likely to try to give something up than they are to take up something new in the New Year, those who take something up are more likely to feel happier about their experience.
I can certainly relate to this finding. I had a couple of broken resolutions to my name when I decided to take up something new, by volunteering to mentor young people for The Prince’s Trust, and I’ve never looked back. At the moment, I volunteer as a business mentor for their Enterprise programme through Prince’s Trust Online, which is a service that enables young people across the UK to access online support to start their own business or develop the skills they need for work.
Before you jump to any conclusions, please know I’m under no illusions as to what your initial reactions might be if you’ve read this far. As the research itself points out, half of those people who would even consider volunteering for charity say they don’t have enough time for it – and this easily is the biggest turn off when it comes to volunteering.
The thing is, you can actually make a real impact by spending just an hour or two per week helping your mentee online. The flexibility of this approach has been the key to making volunteering a commitment I can stick to.
By being a mentor, I feel like I’m really making a difference to the lives of my mentees, and find it really satisfying to see them develop and take steps towards realising their business plans.
There’s something very rewarding about being there for those ‘light bulb moments’, in celebrating the high points and being able to support through the low points, or simply in helping someone to overcome a problem. Ultimately, nothing beats seeing a mentee achieve their goals.
I’ve learned that beyond any advice and support I can offer to my mentees, the most valuable thing I can do is show them that I believe in them – because this can be a catalyst to helping them to believe in themselves more.
Small kindnesses like this, I think, can be extremely transformative, and the impact of kindness – wherever it comes from – is a joy to witness. That’s why I’m sticking with my mentoring role, and why I’m so pleased to hear that more and more people across the UK are deciding to get involved with it too.
If you’re looking for new ways to give something back this year, I’d urge you to consider online mentoring as an option – you could make a real difference both to your own life and the life of a young person.
The Prince’s Trust is actively looking for people to volunteer as mentors to support the growth of Prince’s Trust Online, which launched in July 2017. The service particularly needs volunteers to support young people starting up their own business.
The charity has launched its #Don’tGiveUpGiveBack campaign, which calls on people to ditch giving things up for January in favour of giving something back by volunteering for Prince’s Trust Online. To find out more about volunteering opportunities with The Prince’s Trust, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk.
Everyone hates January. The post-Christmas comedown hits us hard, especially with 2017 being such a tough year. Kindness 31 is our antidote to that. Every day we’ll share a good news story about someone (or a group of people) and their act of kindness or how they helped others. If you want to get involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively if you’d like to nominate someone to be featured, fill in this form.