Now that the holiday flurry is over and we’ve settled nicely into the new year, I’d like to ask, how are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions? Are you sticking to them? Have you done fairly well, with just a stumble or two here and there? Or did you give up halfway through January (as is so easy to do)?
If you’re dissatisfied with the resolutions you set, or you didn’t set any at all, I’d like to suggest something a little different. Something you can start right now, today, that will benefit not just you, but a cause you believe in. (The following was originally published in Raw Instincts Magazine and has been modified slightly for use here.)
The beginning of every new year is invariably accompanied by the traditional adoption of a “New Year’s Resolution.” Between Christmas and the first of January, we collectively come up with new, or recycled, challenges we then declare to ourselves and the world we’ll overcome in the following months. Perennial favorites include, “I’m going to quit smoking/lose weight/exercise more!”
The theme of these resolutions is typically self-improvement. Laudable, certainly… as far as it goes.
This year, I’d like to suggest something a little different. Rather than undertaking a new behavior focused on perfecting our own lives, why not choose an activity that benefits someone or something outside our personal circles? Imagine, if you will, how much good could be accomplished if everyone reading this missive decided to spend just one or two hours a week supporting our favorite animal advocacy groups!
And if we leveraged our favorite hobbies, we could simultaneously indulge our passions while executing these good deeds. For instance, do you enjoy amateur photography? You can work with your local shelter or rescue groups taking and sharing pictures of animals in need of adoption. It’s well known that sharp, nicely-composed photographs showcasing animals to their best advantage are effective in facilitating adoptions, but few shelter or rescue organizations have the time to spend acquiring such photos.
Perhaps you enjoy organizing events or talking to people you’ve never previously met? Just about any advocacy group trying to host an event could use someone with your skills!
Even not-so-obvious hobbies can be helpful. Bibliophiles and writers can offer to compose or edit newsletters, articles and press releases. Dancers can perform a benefit showcase to create buzz and generate funds for their organizations of choice. Other artists can offer their talents in similar efforts.
Alternatively, you can pick your favorite not-for-profit group and ask them what they need. If you’re partial to cats, you could help support trap, neuter and return (TNR) efforts, rescue and foster the homeless and abandoned, or help fight abuse, declawing, back yard breeders, kill shelters, even pet limits… the list of focus groups goes on and on.
Are dogs, ferrets, horses, or birds more your type? How about rats, hamsters or snakes? Whatever you’re passionate about, just a few minutes of research will produce a wide range of organizations that could use your support over the next year.
This website has had over 18,000 unique visitors so far this month; if only half that number donated just one hour a week for the next 12 months, a whopping 468,000 hours would be dedicated to helping our world’s animal innocents. That equates to 160 people working eight hours every single day of 2013; the potential impact is enormous!
Furthermore, instead of creating a resolution – defined by Webster’s dictionary as “a resolve or determination” – I encourage everyone to make a commitment to your chosen concern. In the former instance, you decide you want to do something, but in the latter, you give your word – “a pledge or promise”- and you incur an obligation to act.
We’re more likely to follow through with a resolve when we’ve promised someone we’ll be there than if we simply make a personal decision, so consider embracing that extra motivation and putting a little more oomph in your resolution this year. Let’s make 2013 the year pet lovers change the world!