The sun will set on another year in just a few days, and people everywhere will be making resolutions with themselves: they’ll vow to lose weight, start exercising, read more books and watch less television, give up alcohol or sweets, or just be a better version of themselves in general.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with making New Year’s resolutions – and pursuing self-improvement is noble – putting that type of pressure on ourselves can be unhealthy. Not to mention many of us are still recovering from the aftermath of a global pandemic; things are getting back “to normal,” but it’s a process.
Rather than creating an environment of unrealistic, or even unnecessary, resolutions that we swear to abide by when the clock strikes midnight – what if we instead made resolutions that have less to do with improving ourselves and more about contributing to our communities and the greater good? By removing the focus – and the pressure – from ourselves, we can go into the New Year without the weight of expectation tied around our necks.
“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” – Maya Angelou.
Not sure what that looks like or where to begin? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Resolve to support a non-profit: What causes are you passionate about? Social justice? Women’s rights? If your budget allows, consider setting up a monthly donation. That could mean skipping a fancy coffee one or two times a month, but if it’s something you really believe in, the small sacrifice should be worth it.
Resolve to do more acts of kindness: “Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” We cross paths every day with hurting, scared, lonely, frustrated, or exhausted people – and we often have no idea. Acts of kindness can be as simple as offering to return a shopping cart for a tired-looking mom or paying for the order behind you in the drive-thru. It can be carrying extra blankets, protein bars, or bottles of water to have available when you encounter someone living on the streets. Sometimes all it takes is a sincere compliment and a genuine smile to completely turn someone’s day around. Plan ahead, and always be on the lookout for how to show someone kindness.
Resolve to volunteer more: Whether it’s a soup kitchen, a clothing closet, the animal shelter, teaching a class at a prison, or reading to children at the local library, there are a number of opportunities to volunteer your time and skills.
Resolve to support your community: Community isn’t always where you live. Sometimes it’s the people you share things in common with, whether that’s religion, culture, ideologies, beliefs, or interests. How can you support YOUR community? We here at AfriKin.org strongly believe that the expression of art and creativity is the cornerstone of a strong community. And so, we would suggest and encourage active participation in supporting artists and visionaries through the purchase of their work and attending and promoting their exhibits and galleries. There are plenty of opportunities, both near and far, to support their voices. One such exhibition will launch on January 15, just in time for MLK weekend. AfriKin Art: The Gaze – African Excellence and Black Resistance. (See more details here.)
In the end, our bodies decay, and our possessions are lost. So let us say goodbye to another year with the only resolution on our lips to be that of resolving to leave a positive mark on this world.
Tell us your thoughts. Will you be making New Year’s resolutions this year? In what other ways can you support your community and leave your mark in the upcoming year?