8 New Year's Resolutions That Will Make the World a Brighter Place

Dec 13, 2018 | by The Salvation Army

At the beginning of a new year, people find renewed energy to become better versions of themselves—to lose weight, eat healthier, make a bigger salary, spend more time with their kids—and the list goes on.

But what if instead of choosing a New Year’s Resolution that’s focused on making you better, you resolved to make changes that would improve your community. Here are nine 2019 New Year’s Resolutions that will make the world a brighter place.

1. Volunteer More

There is no greater gift than your time. These days, most of us are busy and overworked, so it can feel like you don’t have extra time to give, no matter the cause. We recommend starting with a small commitment that feels manageable. Most volunteers so love the feeling they get from helping others that they end up giving more and more of their time, even when it doesn’t make sense on paper. Volunteer With Us >

2. Waste Less Food

It’s amazing how much food we waste every year. In fact, the USDA estimated that in 2010, America wasted 131 million pounds of food, equating to $161 billion dollars. Here are a few tips for wasting less food:

  • Put perishable food items at the front of your refrigerator or pantry so you remember to eat them before they go bad.
  • If you know portions are large at a specific restaurant, split your meal with a friend. You’ll save money, too!
  • Plan your meals ahead of time, and take into account when you are likely to have leftovers that need to be eaten.

3. Find Your Cause

There are endless causes and issues to become passionate about, from eliminating poverty to rehoming shelter dogs to saving the cotton-top tamarin monkeys (seriously). In theory, it’s great to care about every issue, but in reality being deeply passionate about one or two causes makes a much bigger impact.

This year, commit to finding an issue you really care about. It might take some research, volunteering with a few different organizations, or talking to friends and family about the causes they support. By the end of the year, you’ll be ready to advocate for change in a tangible way.

4. Shop Smarter

Fast fashion is great at the cash register, but when it relies on devaluing goods and incentivizing child labor and virtual slavery, it becomes a real drag. Remember that as a consumer, where, when, and how you spend money is a reflection of your values.

For instance, instead of simply selecting the cheapest product based on price alone, take a few minutes to research your options. Is the seller adhering to fair trade, eco-friendly policies? Are there socially conscious brands offering similar products? Is it worth buying a slightly more expensive product if you know it will directly improve a deserving individual’s standard of living? You don’t need to make shopping an in-depth research project, but spending a little more time considering what you purchase can make a big impact on countless lives.

5. Become a Mentor

Whether you’re a recent college graduate who just landed their first real job or a middle-aged stay-at-home mom, chances are your life experiences could benefit someone who hasn’t made it to where you are.

In 2019, try to actively seek out people who could benefit from the lessons you’ve learned over the years. There’s no need to formally mention that you’re looking for a mentee; just search for opportunities to share your wisdom and let the mentor-mentee relationship develop naturally from there. While you may feel your life is too ordinary or that your experiences aren’t meaningful enough to impact someone else’s life, the truth is that owning your story is powerful and you have more nuggets of wisdom than you’re giving yourself credit for.

6. Go Green

The greatest part of this New Year’s Resolution is that there are so many ways to make a difference, depending on your lifestyle. Here are a few ways you could reduce your carbon footprint in 2019:

  • Invest in a permanent water bottle to curb your reliance on single-use plastic water bottles.
  • Become an expert on what’s accepted in your recycling bin and always sort recycling from trash that goes to landfills.
  • Purchase goods made from recycled materials whenever possible.
  • Use less water when washing dishes or showering. Saving money on your monthly water bill is just the icing on the cake.

7. Observe More

One of the latest videos to go viral shows a young boy shivering on the city streets, as person after person walks by him without stopping to see if he’s okay. While the whole experience could make you think that most people are generally terrible, another explanation is that most people are generally unaware.

Think about it: we are often so wrapped in our own lives—our own struggles, thoughts, feelings, and work—that we completely miss what’s happening around us.

This year, commit to being more present for the sake of helping others. You might be surprised as needs that you once would have ignored now become painstakingly obvious. When we look outward instead of focusing inward every second of the day, we become agents of change and potential.

8. Give grace

Although this resolution requires no time, money, or training, it is often one of the hardest notions to put into practice. It can also be one of the most life-changing. This year, we encourage you to switch up your life perspective and start assuming that everyone has the best intentions, despite the actual outcome.

For instance, say a car cuts you off on your way to work. Instead of assuming they’re a jerk on a mission to make you late for an important meeting, tell yourself a new narrative—perhaps they’re an elderly driver who had to take their spouse to the doctor for an unexpected health issue and aren’t familiar with the area. Instead of getting mad, you can let the whole situation go as an unfortunate accident.

When we give grace to others in this way, we also give more grace to ourselves. Similarly, when we approach life with the mindset that everyone is doing their best, we get better at accepting our best, too.

As you consider what you want to achieve in 2019, we hope you’ll consider these New Year’s Resolutions that will make the world just a little bit brighter.

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