Make simple changes

January is a time in our culture when we demonstrate humanity’s capacity for optimism by making New Year’s resolutions.

As I think about what I’d like to accomplish this year, four themes emerge: living a healthier lifestyle, doing more good for others, learning something new and getting finances in order.

As if looking in the mirror isn’t enough to motivate me to live a healthier lifestyle, statistics related to the prevalence of obesity and related illnesses in our region should jolt us all onto the wellness bandwagon.

We lead the nation in the prevalence of these deadly health risks. So, it’s more walking and yoga classes for me.

Events like the recent natural disaster in Haiti, along with the continued suffering in our own community, strain existing support networks.

These circumstances compel us all to act in service of the common good by contributing more to efforts that provide for those in need.

Because I work in education, it’s probably not surprising that learning something new was a common resolution among my acquaintances, but my husband is taking this commitment to new heights. He is auditing courses that are broadcast free of charge on the web by universities such as the University of California-Berkley and Yale. If lifelong learning is one of your resolutions, you can do this too.

Finally, out of necessity, many of us are taking a long hard look at our finances and resolving to do things differently in the coming year.

I’m going to try to do more to simplify my life. That means I plan to enjoy simple, free pleasures more often and ‘just say no’ to whipping out the credit card for purchasing things that can wait.

With so much to be done trying to do it all can be overwhelming. A colleague had a great suggestion: make one simple change. It sets you up for success. Here’s wishing you much happiness and success with your resolutions in the new year!