A New Approach to this Year’s Resolutions

Each New Year we come up with idealistic resolutions that are going to change our lives for the better such as, “I’m going to lose weight, “I’m going to be a more giving or helpful person,” or “I’m going to start a new hobby.” So we go into the New Year committed and enthused but several weeks later many of us crash and burn. Resolutions can be a good starting point and are well intentioned, but the habitual failure may be due in part to the predictable goals we set for ourselves each year. Young or old, we should consider taking a different approach to achieve our resolutions. Try something a little different this year. Instead of joining a gym to lose weight, take dance lessons or try volunteer work that requires some physical activity. Rather than trying to commit to a rigid diet, take small steps like not eating after 7 pm or not grocery shopping on an empty stomach.

Particularly for our retired readers, let’s examine some alternative resolutions for those ages 55 and better. I bet if you choose at least one of the suggestions below and stick with it, it will make a positive change in your life this year.


You can still commit to losing weight this year or becoming more active, but approach it a little differently this year. Upon retirement, some people become less physically active once they remove themselves from the hustle and bustle of full-time work. So this year to lose a few pounds and stay active, try volunteering or getting a part-time job.

If you keep busy, stay involved, and have purpose you can avoid winter sluggishness and stave off weight gain. We have many residents and family members who volunteer at Messiah Lifeways and are constantly on the go. The physical, social and emotional benefits of volunteering are tremendous. Furthermore, an increasing number of seniors are embarking on “encore careers” or “second acts” and lend their talents and spirit to a job that is more gratifying than stressful while bringing in some additional income.

If you’d like to learn more about a part-time job or a “second act” or an “encore career” check out encore.org or seniorjobbank.org, which are websites dedicated to helping people over the age of 50 connect with employers locally and across the nation for part-time and full-time jobs.

If volunteering interests you, please call Kelly Haag at 717.790.8203 or click here for volunteer opportunities at Messiah Lifeways. You can also check out RSVP of the Capital Region online to learn about volunteer opportunities available in the greater Harrisburg region.


Joining a civic or service group helps to further one’s meaning and purpose each day. National groups such as Kiwanis, Rotary, and the Lions Club are always looking for members. They greatly appreciate the experience, leadership, and talents of retirees to help guide these groups and focus on helping those who’re less fortunate. Local organizations such as United Way of the Capital Region, Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg AreaCentral PA Food Bank, Speranza Animal Rescue, and Mission Central offer a wide variety of ways to actively help and give unto others. This is a win-win opportunity for you and the organization.


A large part of New Year’s resolutions revolve around being healthy and feeling good. In addition to seeing your family doctor on a regular basis and taking your prescribed medications, taking control and managing your individual health concerns is paramount. As people age, the likelihood of developing chronic health conditions like arthritis, congestive heart failure, obesity and diabetes grows. So, of course, physical exercise and staying active are key to staying healthy. Start a walking club or try something new like Tai Chi. At Messiah Lifeways at Messiah Village, the Center for Vitality and Wellness offers warm water aquatics, a fitness center and a multitude of exercise programs and classes. Additionally, programs such as Silver Sneakers, Silver and Fit, and Prime offered through your health insurance will cover the cost of monthly membership. Get out and get moving.

Equally as important as physical exercise is “mental exercise.” Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are great, but consider more active ways to “exercise” your brain and integrate it with a new hobby or interest for the new year. Learn to play an instrument, learn a new language, join a book club, or take some courses through a local community college or programs like Pathways Institute for Lifelong Learning® or consider becoming an instructor for Pathways. Pathways offers 30 to 40 different classes, excursions, and service projects each fall and spring semester. Anyone age 55 or better can become a member, and it’s very affordable and flexible.

Whatever you choose as your resolution this year, switch it up and make it count. To learn about more ways to stimulate your mind, body and soul, contact the Messiah Lifeways Coaching office at 717.591.7225 or email coach@messiahlifeways.org.




Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.