Spread the Spark!

Guys, guys, it’s almost 2016!  Can you believe it?!  My how time flies!  

Do you have a New Years resolution to start running?  Maybe it's to travel more?  SOURCE: unsplash.com

Do you have a New Years resolution to start running?  Maybe it's to travel more?  SOURCE: unsplash.com

Have you set your New Years resolutions for 2016 yet?  For most of us they might include losing weight, getting organized, or spending more time with family.  Are you one of those people that makes a list a mile long how what you want to change for the year and then don’t get to any of them?  Or maybe you gave up on even making resolutions years ago since they just never worked?  My hope today is to offer some tips for making and keeping your New Years resolutions as well as suggest 1 resolution I hope that we all have for 2016.

Winning New Years Resolutions

I’ve found that the resolutions that have worked best for me have had a few common characteristics.  First of all, they are based on values that I care about.  Health is an easy example.  I care about my health and the health of my family.  But, if I just set my resolution as “be healthy,” it would inevitably fail.  That brings us to the second important characteristic, the resolutions themselves are specific changes in behavior.  It’s hard to quanitify “health” but I can say “exercise twice a week” and I know throughout the year exactly if that resolution is happening or not.  That specific plan is better than just “exercise more” and way better than just a general “be healthy.”  

Now we get to the application of those resolutions.  Plan for how they are going to happen when you make the resolution.  Decide when and where you will be doing it and what needs to happen in order to succeed.  The more often it’s already scheduled into your life, the more likely it is to become a habit.  If you want to exercise twice a week, mark it in your calendar for the entire year.  If you want to run that first marathon, sign up for it and then mark your training plan in your calendar.  If you want to quit smoking, mark the date in your calendar and set up your game plan now.  If you want to spend more time with family, decide what that looks like to you (2 family outings per month? 15 minutes quality time with each child per day?) and mark that in your calendar now.  Whatever it is, make it doable, repeatable on a daily or weekly basis, quantifiable (either you did it or not), tell everyone involved (and a few friends for support), and set up the where/what/when as much as reasonable now.  

Write down your resolutions in a place that's important to you, like a journal, and also a place where you'll be reminded of them often, like your calendar or computer.  SOURCE: unspalsh.com

Write down your resolutions in a place that's important to you, like a journal, and also a place where you'll be reminded of them often, like your calendar or computer.  SOURCE: unspalsh.com

One last tip, don’t go overboard.  Pick a few key values that you feel strongly about improving upon for 2016 then plan 1-2 specific resolutions about each value.  If that seems like too much for you, narrow it down to 3 resolutions total, or even one important one.  Write them down now in a place that’s important to you (I write mine in my journal) and also in a place where you will be reminded of them often (like having specific times already scheduled into your planner).  If you find in a few months that you keep forgetting about one or some of your resolutions, re-evaluate if you made too many resolutions and either decide new ways to make them happen or discard them for the year.  

Spread the Spark

Now for a special resolution I hope you’ll all join in on.  Spread the spark.  The spark?  I’m talking about the light in your eyes.  Do you remember the last time you helped someone else out?  You might have not noticed, but I bet there was a twinkle in your eyes and a smile on your face from serving someone.  And did you notice how the face of the person you were helping lit up?  That’s the spark I’m talking about.  It’s easy to share your spark and I hope that the spark then spreads to others.  Like any fire, it must be fueled or it will go out so this spark needs to be shared regularly to keep it ablaze.   I’m not talking about a bonfire here (although if you want to do that much service, go ahead!), just a small simple spark.  

Spread the spark!  SOURCE: unsplash.com

Spread the spark!  SOURCE: unsplash.com

Unless you entirely skipped the first part of this post, you know that “spread the spark” by itself is a pretty weak resolution.  You can’t quantify it, there’s no sense of regularity required, and it could easily get forgotten.  I hope that your resolution is not simply to “spread the spark” but that you think about how you personally and how your family jointly is going to spread the spark this year.  Turn the value of service into a specific resolution that will change your behavior for the better in 2016.  Maybe there’s a nursing home just down the street from you; could you decide to go chat with the people there 2 times a month in 2016?  Maybe your toddler is like mine, just learning what kindness even means; could we point out an act of kindness to our toddlers every day?  Maybe you want your kids to serve others more so you resolve to plan 1 act of service each month.  Do whatever makes sense for you and in so doing you will spread the spark.

Little Hands Can wants to make this easy for you.  We are trying to have 2 events per month in 2016.  That’s two events where you and your child(ren) can come and do service without any other planning or preparations on your part.  Your resolution could just be to get to 1 Little Hands Can event each month and you’d be set.  We’ll also continue to post Simple Service ideas that you can easily do with your children whenever is convenient for you.  If your children have done some cool service that you think others would like to know about, let us know!  We’d love to spotlight your child as they spread the spark and hopefully that will motivate someone else to spread the spark in a similar way.  Whether you come to our events, consult our site, or come up with your own awesome service,  we’d love to help you spread the spark.

To 2016, the year that we spread the spark!