The Season of Giving

The Season of GivingTen years ago, the economy wasn’t looking good, the markets were in the pits, and there was general concern about the future. Given all this, it was easy to be self-focused and forget about other people and their circumstances.

Today, at least in the US, things are much different. The markets are booming and businesses are growing at their fastest rate in the last decade. However, whether the economy is good or bad, we need to think about others. The reality is that there are folks out there who are struggling. To be direct, they are homeless, depending on the generosity of others just to eat. As the holiday season approaches, the spirit of giving and sharing typically increases. Click To Tweet

Every major city has organizations and outreach programs to help these people—and that is good. However, these groups continue to address people who need their help, which means that they need our help. If you can make a donation, now is the time to do so. If a monetary gift isn’t possible, then give of your time. With people in need, they are in need for volunteers. Of course, you can give both your time and your money.

As the holiday season approaches, the spirit of giving and sharing typically increases. Please do what you can to help, but just remember that the homeless don’t only need help at Thanksgiving and Christmas, but the year around.

I hope you enjoy the holidays—and can help others do the same.

Wordsmith Peter DeHaan is a magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Check back each week for updated content, and look for his upcoming book, Woodpecker Wars.

Which is Better, Setting Goals or Making New Year’s Resolutions?

Although I avoid making New Year’s resolutions, I do set annual goals. What’s the difference? Maybe nothing; maybe everything. To me, resolutions are akin to wishful thinking, with low expectation for success. Goals are concrete, with stated action and quantifiable results.

I don’t think I’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution. If I discover something about myself I want to change, I set about making the adjustment right away. Delaying change until January first makes no sense.

However, every year I do set annual goals. I write them down and may even share them with friends. Throughout the year, I work towards achieving those goals. Sometimes my goals morph into something else and other times they become irrelevant along the way, but I take each one as far as I can by December 31.

At the end of each year I look back with a sense of accomplishment over the goals I’ve reached, while not wallowing in remorse over the ones I’ve missed. Never once have I achieved every annual goal and never once have I failed at them all.

This year was a rough year. Life took an unexpected turn soon after the New Year began, and my goals necessarily assumed a lessor priority. Even though it was one of my worst showings ever, I still accomplished two of my six goals.

However, other people shun goal setting, but they always make New Year’s resolutions. Just as I dismiss resolutions, they dismiss goals with equal disdain. Just as I embrace goals, they embrace resolutions with equal fervor.

Maybe the difference between goal setting and resolutions is just semantics, but maybe the difference is one of substance. I don’t know.

What I do know is that, whether it’s a goal or a resolution, we need to do what we can to accomplish the result we want and then look to God for help with what is out of our control.

With him, we have a much better chance for success than without him.

Happy New Year: Making Resolutions

Ringing in the New Year often marks a time for making resolutions. Common New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, saving money, studying more, finding a better job, improving a relationship, being kinder or more generous, drinking less, and so on.

Usually these well-intentioned resolutions are short-lived. Aside from being vague and difficult to determine success, I think the problem is we set ourselves up for failure. Let’s assume I step on the scale in September and realize I need to lose weight. But I’ll wait and make a New Year’s resolution to drop the extra pounds. Since this idea lives in the future, I don’t need to worry about it now; I can continue eating as I always have. In four months I’ll focus on weight loss, but for now, don’t worry.

This gives me four months to further instill my bad habits. Additionally, knowing that in the future I’ll need to be more careful with what I eat, emboldens me to eat poorly now, while I still have the chance. This only makes the problem worse, resulting in more weight to lose later. A much better approach is to begin losing weight right away and not delay.

Instead of waiting until January first to change a habit, introduce a new one, or remove a bad one, why not make changes as soon as the opportunity arises? Why accumulate a list of resolutions for the start of a new year? Instead, make incremental improvements throughout the year.

This is why I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. As soon as I realize I need to change something, I set about it right away – before things get worse and while I have the best chance for success. I guess this means I make resolutions year round.

If you made a New Year’s resolution, I wish you success. And if you forgot, don’t wait until 2015. Begin making changes right away. Any day is a great day to start improving your life.

Happy New Year!

Peter DeHaan is magazine publisher by day and a writer by night. Visit peterdehaan.com to receive his newsletter, read his blog, or connect via social media.

Welcome to 2013!

The new year is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions. Common ones include losing weight, saving money, going back to school, finding a better job, improving a relationship – or getting out of one, being kinder, giving more, drinking less, and

Read the rest of this post at its new location.

A Christmas Wish

My Christmas wish for you is a joyous time of celebration with family and friends.

May your day be loaded with laughter and love.

May your table be filled with food and surrounded by fun.

May you give gifts well and receive them even better.

May you take a moment to thank the one whose birthday we celebrate.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

What If There Was No Mail?

On Monday this week (in the United States) we had no mail delivery because of Veterans’ Day.

To miss mail for one day is not a problem, but what if this occurred on a regular basis? What if Saturday delivery was omitted or we only received mail three days a week? (These ideas are considerations to help the USPS — United States Postal Service — save money.)

I could deal with that, too.

But what if all deliveries stopped? Looking at what I receive via US mail, what would be the contingency plan?

  • Magazines: I like my magazines but would not start reading them online (at least not how it works today). I guess I’d go without — and that would give me more time for other activities. (Of course this would be a problem for those in the magazine business.)
  • Bills: More and more companies send invoices and statements via email. This allows me to move one step closer to paperless bill paying.
  • Checks: My business receives some checks via mail. But payment could be made by credit card or electronic funds transfer instead.
  • Formal communication: Invitations and thank you notes, as well as cards are typically mailed. If need be, they could go online as well.
  • Shipments: Although the USPS is sometimes the least expensive option, it’s far from the only one.
  • Ads and junk mail: I could do without this category of mail, but I supposed they’d go online too and start spamming me.

The USPS isn’t likely to stop all mail delivery anytime soon, but if they did, we could get by.

Happy Fourth of July!

To all my friends and followers living in the United States of America, I wish you a wonderful Fourth of July (Independence Day, if you want to be formal).

While there are certainly reasons for concern, worry, and even complaint, we do live in a wonderful country. We enjoy wide-ranging freedoms, abound in opportunities, and — despite the naysayers — reside in prosperity.

I’m glad to be a citizen of the United States of America and pleased to live in this amazing nation. I thank our forefathers who made this all possible and salute them for their foresight and sacrifices to form our country.

Happy Fourth of July!

My Summertime Schedule

For myself and many others, summer effectively begins on Memorial Day and ends on Labor Day.

This year the weather seems to concur that summer is over. Last Friday, temperatures in southern Michigan were in the upper nineties, with a heat index of 105 to 115. Today, the highs failed to hit 70, with a predicted low tonight of 45.

For the first time in months, I am wearing jeans and have donned a sweatshirt. It certainly feels like fall.

With fall comes a pledge to blog more frequently. If you’re keeping track, it’s pushing two months since my last post. It’s not that I have nothing to share — I’ve composed many a blog in my mind — it’s that I’ve not had a chance to write things out. So, I hope to begin catching up and write retroactively.

Another change is that the comments and trackbacks features are again reactivated. I had turned them off due to a high degree of spam, but with a software upgrade, things are again manageable.

Also, check out my other blogs, which I post to more frequently:

Happy Easter

We’ve had a beautiful week here in southwest Michigan, with record highs in the low 80s for the past two days.  As a consequence, I’ve been hit hard with a case of spring fever.  The last remaining pile of snow has melted — it was a huge pile, which only succumbed a couple of days ago — and spring flowers are displaying their colors.  The grass is greening up and soon it will be time to mow lawn.

The high temps, however, will wane a bit today, as a cool front is arriving.  That should drive the temperatures down about 20 degrees to where they should be for this time of year.

Although it would be great to enjoy 80-degree sunshine tomorrow on Easter, I can accept the prediction of partly cloudy and 60.  At least there won’t be any snow, which does happen for some Easters in our clime.

Where ever you may be, and whatever weather might be sent your way, have a Happy Easter!