We all have the best of intentions. We're going to get a gym membership and work out every day! We're going to start eating healthier -- no more cookies! We're going to watch less crap TV and read more classic literature and finally organize the front entry closet!
And then it's late January, and we're sitting on the couch, eating Oreos and watching home organizers on HGTV clean someone else's front entry closet. Failed again. Maybe 2015 is the year it will all happen.
But whoever said positive change has to happen on January 1? After all, every day begins a new year if you count 365 days forward. It's never too late to do something good in 2014.
While I certainly endorse getting into shape, or improving one's diet, becoming active and engaged on an issue that is personally important to you might be just as satisfying. At Population Connection, we're passionate about ensuring that every person is able to decide whether and when to have a child. Reproductive choice is a human right that doesn't just benefit individual families -- it also boosts entire economies and helps protect the natural resources we all depend upon.
In honor of new beginnings -- whenever they start -- here are a few ideas for reproductive health resolutions. Start them today, start them a month from now -- just know that you'll be improving people's lives, and maybe even your own -- and that's one worthy goal.
- Get involved in your local school district. Comprehensive sex education teaches kids the benefits of waiting to have sex, but also teaches them how to protect themselves if they don't wait. And given that 63 percent of high school seniors have had sex, education is in order. Getting involved in your local school district is the best way to ensure that students are learning what they need to know to grow up healthy.
- Volunteer at your local clinic. If you're interested in ensuring that women and families can make the best reproductive decisions for themselves, help make that a reality in your community. Many reproductive health clinics rely on volunteers to provide a welcoming atmosphere for patients, host patients from out of town or provide office help.
- Make the population connection with family and friends. Talking about reproductive health care doesn't have to be as awkward as those painful conversations you remember. If you support making birth control available to all, share your views. Talk about how family planning is basic health care and a cost-effective development tool that boosts economies, saves lives and protects vulnerable people and environments.
- Lobby your lawmakers. If you support expanding access to contraception, don't just tell your friends and family -- tell your lawmakers, too, since they're the ones controlling the nation's purse strings. Ask your senators and member of Congress to support $1 billion for international family planning funding. It's our nation's fair share -- and one of the best investments we can make in the developing world.
- Write a letter to the editor or a blog post. See if you can get published. Share posts about contraception on Facebook and Twitter. Share this commentary! Support is contagious!
- Reassess your own needs. Don't forget to take good care of yourself! Is your present method of birth control still working for you? If not, now might be an excellent time to make a change. Under the Affordable Care Act, a wide variety of contraceptive methods are available without copay under most insurance plans. Read up on the options. You might find a new method -- or at least learn information you can pass on to someone else!
So while your gym membership card might be sporting a thin layer of dust, and your couch cushions might conceal Oreo crumbs, it's not too late to make a positive change for 2014 -- especially if that positive change is in the area of reproductive health. Because by investing in family planning, we're investing in the future -- far beyond the New Year.
John Seager is President of Population Connection, www.populationconnection.org, America's voice for population stabilization.