Today, we commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in the United States, but Dr. King is known around the world as a nonviolent advocate for civil rights, human rights, anti-poverty and peace.
In the US, we honor Dr. King’s life and legacy by making his birthday a National Day of Service.
Dr. King spent his short life—he was only 39 years old when he was killed—fighting for civil rights for African Americans, promoting peace and nonviolence and starting the Poor People’s campaign to fight for the rights of those who are poor and disenfranchised.
Dr. King demonstrated what it means to live according to your values. Most of us will never have to make the sacrifices he did to pursue our dreams, but we believe that his words are relevant today in our everyday lives and can inspire us to act on our own dreams.
In this special MLK Day edition of the Changing Course newsletter, we wanted to share some of his quotes that are meaningful to us:
“We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” —Letter from Birmingham, Alabama Jail, April 16,1963
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” —Strength of Love collection, 1963
“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve.
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” —The Drum Major Instinct speech, February 4, 1968
Make it a Day On, not a Day Off
If being of service to others is your passion, then make MLK Day “a Day On, not a day off!” You can get involved with one of the many community service projects taking place in communities across the United States.
Learn more about the MLK Day of Service and find a volunteer opportunity in your community. Please note that there are volunteer opportunities listed that go well beyond MLK Day.
If you are interested in creating your own actions or projects to address serious global issues, visit Global Citizens to see what others are doing and get inspired to act.
To Your Dreams,
Keep Moving Forward
As we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday and honor his work, we ask you, how are you moving forward toward your dream? Are you willing to fight for your dream?
We are just over two weeks into the new year and many of you probably made New Year’s resolutions about how you want your life and livelihood to be different at this time next year. Are you making forward movement? Did you:
- Think about and put into writing what you want your ideal life to look like?
- Write down the goals that you want to achieve to live that ideal life and added deadlines to each goal?
- Create a plan to achieve your goals by identifying smaller incremental steps toward achieving each of your goals?
- Set milestones when you can celebrate your progress?
- Explore your gifts and talents and those you would most like to use in the life you are creating for yourself?
If your answer is no to any of the above questions, get yourself a journal and get started creating your future.
If you are a visual person, you can use newspapers and magazines to create a visual depiction of your ideal life, goals, and milestones as well as your gifts and talents.
If you prefer doing it electronically, create a new folder on your computer desktop and call it, “My Dream” or whatever title will motivate you each time you see it.
You can also sign up for a free Canva account and use one of their free vision board templates to create an electronic vision board.
Once you’ve taken those initial steps of forward movement, here are a few tips you can follow to keep you moving forward:
1. Focus on your goals by setting aside a specified amount of time each week when you will work on your goals. Turn off all electronic distractions and make arrangement for kids and other family members to be engaged in activities that don’t involve you.
2. Get clear on why the goal is important to you, so that on days when things are hard your “Why” can keep you motivated.
3. Find an accountability partner or group that will hold you accountable to making forward movement and a cheerleader who will celebrate with you when you do.
4. Forgive yourself when you get off track and get back to the business of moving forward. Do not fall prey to negative self-talk. Replace it with positive self-talk that keeps you moving forward.
5. Write motivational words or quotes on index cards or post it notes and put them in places where you will see them regularly.
Is this what’s holding you back?
I’ve got time. I’ll pursue my goals when…
You keep putting off taking action. You say, there will be time for me to pursue my goals. I can pursue my dream when I have more time, more money, more support, or more courage.
When you do have time, you fill it with activities that should seemingly help you move your goals forward, such as taking a course or reading a book. However, these can become distractions from moving forward.
Attending the course or reading the book won’t move you forward. It is taking the actions that are shared in these tools that will move you forward on your goals.
There is no better time than now to follow my heart and pursue my dreams.
There will never be a perfect time for you to pursue your dreams and goals. You simply must try even when the circumstances are not ideal.
This means that there is no better time than now to follow your heart and pursue your dreams.
By putting off pursuing your goals and dreams, you are robbing the people who need your gifts and talents.
Let Dr. King be an example to pursue your dreams now, even during difficult circumstances. Your mantra this week is “There is no better time than now to follow my heart and pursue my dreams!“
What We’re Reading
In honor of Dr. King, rather than recommending a book this week, we recommend that you read some of Dr. King’s inspirational works or find another inspirational leader and spend some time reading their work that inspires you to action.
Image from Volume II of The Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr.