By Joseph Beare, manager of communications for corporate citizenship, Microsoft Silicon Valley
Though it feels like our calendars turned just yesterday, the first month of 2013 is nearly behind us. Unfortunately for many among us – including yours truly – that means a few of those New Year’s resolutions may have already fallen through the cracks. They key to a healthy and successful resolution is finding ways to keep it all year long – to make it habit and ultimately, part of your routine.
While 45 percent of Americans say that they usually make resolutions every year, only about 8 percent say they manage to actually keep them. A new approach to annual resolutions is in order, so here’s an idea: -- flip a traditional resolution on its ear, and channel your good intentions into something that benefit our community. For example, if you usually resolve to:
- Eat better. Why not support a Bay Area nonprofit that helps others eat better, too? Microsoft Silicon Valley is a huge fan of Hidden Villa, which, among its many agricultural programs, donates approximately 25 percent of its organically grown food to local low-income families. Support this organization by purchasing your own food from its farmer’s market or by getting your hands dirty and planting crops on their farm.
- Get active. If it’s for a good cause, even better! Microsoft sponsors the annual Friends of Stevens Creek Trailblazer Race, and our staff participates in walk/runathons like Team in Training or Tough Mudder to benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and The Wounded Warrior Project.
- Save money. Local nonprofits like Acterra can help you save money while preserving our environment. We’re long-time supporters of this organization on a mission to bring people together in creating environmental solutions for our planet. Acterra’s Green@Home program trains and sends volunteers into the community to conduct in-home energy conservation assessments. Look into it for your own house! Also, simple acts of environmental consciousness – carrying a reusable water bottle or coffee tumbler for a discount at most coffee shops – are a great way to give back to our planet, too.
- Help others. While this is a popular resolution, it’s not easy to know where to begin. Try translating what you’re passionate about into community service. Can you tutor a young person in reading, science, math or tech skills? Do you have business expertise that could help provide guidance to young adults deciding whether to attend college, or what career path to follow? Year Up is your chance to inspire—and be inspired by— up and-coming talent in your community. Explore mentorship opportunities at the organization, as well as the Boys and Girls Club.
- Spend more time with loved ones. In my experience helping to manage Microsoft’s charitable activities, giving back alongside friends, family and colleagues has been one of the most rewarding experiences. Kick start your own group’s community activity this year by checking out Hands on Bay Area’s website for the many volunteer opportunities the organization coordinates. Giving activities that are well suited for groups include planting a tree with Canopy or building homes through Habitat for Humanity.
At Microsoft Silicon Valley, we passionately support our community all year round, and we’re always looking for ways to help others get involved, too. I hope to see you out lending a hand in your neighborhoods and to your local nonprofits. Let’s make 2013 a year of great progress and success for Palo Alto!