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2014 is here and our lists of resolutions are surely in the works (hopefully, not yet broken). It’s easy to love making resolutions – it’s so fun to periodically check throughout the year to see what we’ve accomplished and what we still need to do.

However, as a twist this year what would it look like to add some service-based resolutions to your list? Living for others can be so much more satisfying than living just to better ourselves. Living outwardly not only helps the people we serve, but it also enriches our inner character by giving a boost of happiness and altering our perspective on life. Serving widens our worldviews, allowing us to more fully comprehend the ways in which our lives are blessed and beautiful.

Here are some ideas of service-related resolutions that you can add to your new year pursuits:

Volunteer for a Cause – and Commit to It

Is there a local organization that you’ve admired, one that supports a cause that excites and inspires you? If so, then get the ball rolling to volunteer with that group and ensure that you can commit to a repetitive volunteering schedule (weekly, monthly – whatever works for you). There’s often a lot of paperwork associated with volunteering for a non-profit, but don’t let that discourage you – once you get past the red tape, you’ll be able to get hands on and work to support a cause that you admire.

If the organization you love isn’t based in your hometown, consider applying to join the group on a trip or plan to participate in a locally hosted fundraiser (even better, host a fundraiser yourself!). This can look totally different based upon your interests and passions – you can spend a week serving orphans abroad or you can run in a benefit 5K on a Saturday morning in your town. Either way, the important thing is that you’ve set aside your time to do something that matters.

If you haven’t found a group whose cause resonates with you, don’t despair. Make 2014 the year you find such an organization to support. Identify what you are passionate about and start checking out organizations that support those issues. Do your research and compare and contrast those with similar missions. Find out whose story you want to tell and read up on facts and figures about their cause. When you feel ready, take the plunge. Don’t feel the need to rush. You want to make sure that you can commit to something you support and that won’t be the case if you lack passion for the cause.

Raise Money for a Non-Profit

If you’re short on time, choose a cause to support financially. There are many great organizations with monthly giving plans tailored to budgets of every shape and size. Giving of our finances fosters living a life of gratitude. It helps us put into perspective just how far a dollar can stretch, allowing us to realize how much we really have, even during times when it may seem like our bank accounts are dwindling. Working hard for a paycheck is beneficial in so many ways, and the benefits double when we know that some of those earnings are going toward improving the lives of others.

If you’re not ready to sign up for an ongoing financial commitment, consider donating your birthday instead. Invite your friends over for a super fun party and then, in lieu of gifts, ask them to contribute a few dollars to the cause of your choice. Use those funds to make a donation, knowing that your birthday just made a difference in the lives of others.

Help Out Someone You Love

Service doesn’t have to come in the form of traditional volunteerism. You can just as easily serve by helping out a friend, neighbor, or family member through offering your talents and skills. Is your friend (who also happens to be a new mom) always complaining about never having time for a date night? Offer to babysit once a month to allow her and her hubby to hit the town. Does your elderly neighbor struggle to accomplish his yard work? Replace some gym time with mowing his lawn and sweeping up his driveway. Is your niece having a hard time in math, or another area in which you excel? Ask if she’d like some tutoring help on a weekly basis. It’s easy to overlook what’s happening in our neighborhood, our families, even in our home and ignore ways in which we can help. By simply paying closer attention, we can serve those we love in assistance, expertise, or with hardworking hands.

Whatever avenue you pursue will be a worthwhile investment of your time and money. Keep a journal of how these events shape and change you during the year. Use it to think of ways you can ramp up your commitments in the future. Most of all enjoy yourself – serving others is fun!

What are some ways that you can increase your service this year?

Image via Megan Robinson

2 comments

  1. I decided to volunteer at the local Ronald McDonald House. Volunteer form allows me to pick days and times. On top of that they ask if you want to volunteer weekly or bi-weekly. I figure doing service that is a regularly scheduled activity on my calendar will keep me committed. I also announced my decision to my facebook world and told them to keep me accountable.
    Then I told them I would be collecting pop tabs for the RMH and I needed their help. It takes 1,200 tabs to equal 1lb of tabs! Wowza! I don’t drink soda so I’m gathering friends to help me do service.

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