The first week in January you can’t go online without seeing “New Year New Me” posts with photos of healthy eating and gym shots all over social media. However, how many of these resolutions have a genuine impact on your life and how many barely make it past the middle of January – I am definitely guilty of the latter and I’m fairly confident that I’m not alone!

Goal-setting sites recommend that you need to think SMART if you want your resolutions to stick: Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Based. The other variable, and arguably one of the most important factors, is for it to be Meaningful. Often we base our resolutions for personal growth and development on things that we think we ‘should’ be doing – eating healthier and exercising more are fairly common as they are perceived as ‘positive goals’ and generally look good on paper. However, unless these are things that you also want and are fully motivated to do, the odds are against you. When you get a craving or the weather is dreary you will look at the reasons behind these new goals and realise that you’d rather hit the snooze button and take that extra half an hour in bed or remember that chocolate is actually delicious. It isn’t that these resolutions are too difficult but unless you care about what it is that you’re trying to achieve, the effort involved becomes an unnecessary sacrifice and one that you are more than likely going to fail at sticking to.

I recently read an article about beating the ever common winter blues, where volunteering featured as one of the suggested actions. A number of benefits have been identified beyond the obvious ‘feel-good factor’ that would appeal to both the health conscious and those looking to progress in their careers. In the 5 surprising benefits of Volunteering, Forbes identified the following as direct benefits, including; feeling like you have more time, helping you to develop new skills, leading to a healthier body, helping to build your experience and making you feel happier and more loved.

One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.

Gordon Hinckley

In addition to being great for stress and excellent for learning or developing skills to add on to your CV, volunteering has moved away from the category of something that you ‘should’ do and has become something that many choose to participate in. Nevertheless, with an absence of monetary incentive, ensuring a sufficient level of interest is vital in order to maximise the benefits and prevent it from becoming more like a chore that you grow to resent. Our previous blog on Volunteers Week discusses some of the potential advantages to volunteering so why not look at how we can merge our own goals with something we feel passionate about.

However you choose to ‘better yourself’ in 2017 and beyond, make it something you care about and look forward to – there’s no time like the present.