It's that time again; the first week of a new year. It's the time when everyone makes those cliché New Year's resolutions that we most likely fall short of, maybe never even start. But making resolutions, setting goals, or putting a plan together to achieve a milestone doesn't need to be laughed at or mocked. We do it everyday - "Today I'm going to kick ass in that presentation" ... "Only one glass of wine tonight, ok maybe two" ... "Make it to Friday and then, WEEKEND!" Striving towards something, however big or small, is a normal behavior for us, so why do we call making New Year's Resolutions a cliché?
It's possible we mock resolutions at the New Year, not because we think it's too mainstream or silly, but because it's actually really hard to set a goal, make a plan, and then execute it. Setting goals for yourself can be daunting and sometimes self-reflection can open a can of worms you don't really want to tackle. And then the dreaded question creeps in "What if I set out to do something, and I fail?" Well so what if you fail? I can't tell you how many times I've said I'm going to work out more and I've made it 8 days and then called it quits, only to try again 4 weeks later and quit after 8 days again. But at least I tried...
In 2019, I've set some goals for myself, and yes, they are the usual suspects: work out, eat healthy, read more books. But I also have some more "purpose" driven goals I'm setting for myself. Goals where the outcome is less about achieving something for myself, and more about doing something for someone else, for the good of the world: goals with a greater purpose. If you're struggling with setting goals for yourself, whatever the reason may be, consider adding some of these "purpose" goals in 2019 - and the best part, just taking any action towards these goals makes a difference. You can't fail!
1. Pay It Forward
Ok, this goal should not end like the 2000 movie Pay It Forward with Kevin Spacey (if you haven't seen that, it's a tearjerker) - but the sentiment is still the same. This year, try to do more random acts of kindness for a stranger. Buy a coffee for the person behind you in line; ask someone to join your Lyft for free; join in song with the street performer and make their day! This year, pledge to be the start of a chain reaction, with a random act of kindness every once in a while.
2. Smile At Strangers
This goal is a two-for-one. If you haven't read my 3 Tips for Carrying Your Sunshine, check it out here. It talks about the personal benefits of smiling more and links to a great TedTalk I highly recommend. But aside from the extra mood-enhancing hormones for you, smiling in contagious! Don't believe me? Check out the science here. With our world seemingly spinning out of control, we could also use more happiness and smiles in the everyday. So in 2019, make it your goal to spread more happiness just through the simple act of a smile.
3. Walk to Work
Walking to work isn't just for the exercise, it's to reduce your footprint! We all have seen the headlines about climate change and how our everyday lifestyle is dumping carbon into the atmosphere - transportation is a big driver of that (no pun intended, ha!) So as much as you can, reduce your time in the car. Whether that's walking to work (if you can), a nearby grocery store, dinner, the coffee shop, where ever! Little lifestyle changes like this in 2019 can make a big difference and you're also subtly upping your workout game, so it's for you and the environment!
4. Volunteer Once a Month
This Christmas, my department at work chose to volunteer for our holiday outing. We went to Feed More, a local hunger-relief organization, to help sort food bank meals before they went out to those in need. Getting involved in your community this year is a great way to not only help others, but also meet new people. Sorting food was a bit of a monotonous task, but I did it alongside coworkers I didn't know very well. The conversation was great, we supported a great cause, and I walked away feeling like I made a difference in someone's day.
5. Read the News
Uh...wut? Read the news? 2018 had some pretty bad headlines, why would I recommend subjecting anyone to constant the media flogging? True, the media can be pretty dark with what's going on in the world, BUT it is important to be informed. While I would love to block out some of what's going on in politics, science, or even right in our communities, knowing what's going on helps me connect with others and make informed decisions. Charles F Kettering, an American inventor and engineer, once said "A problem well stated is a problem half solved" - so in 2019, let's figure out what the problem really is by truly listening to what everyone has to say. Then maybe we'll be closer to a solution. (But if the media does start getting you down, bookmark The Dodo. Everyone loves a cute animal video!)
6. Try Going Vegetarian (or eat less meat)
Putting two eco-friendly goals on the list because we have #12YearsToSaveTheWorld so no time like the present, right? Another huge way you can reduce your environmental impact is by eating less meat. The beef industry sucks up a lot of resources just to feed our cattle and it generates a lot of waste too. Going vegetarian (or vegan if you're bold enough to cut out cheese) can make a big difference. And an added bonus is you feel great with more energy and less bloated. Just make sure you look into other ways to get protein and other nutrients that meat provides us.
7. Travel to a New Place
It doesn't have to be extravagant, but I truly believe that to travel is to understand the world. So in 2019, find a new place to explore. It can be in your hometown, a neighboring state, or a new country - it doesn't really matter. The point is to open your mind to new perspectives, cultures, and experiences. When we all make understanding one another a priority, we're able to communicate and work together towards greater goals. So tell your boss you'll be taking off a few days of work in the name of "bettering our world."
8. Support Passions
This has two meanings. Support one another - your friend wants to open a bakery, support them! Help them think through their launch plan or be a taste tester (who wouldn't want to support this?!) Maybe your Mom wants to take a solo trip. Even if you're a little nervous for her, help her plan it so she has fun and is safe - and buy her the camera so you can follow along on her adventures! Whatever it is, we need to support and celebrate people's ideas. Far too often we find ways to criticize or poke holes in ideas. This year, let's say "yes, and..."
The second part of supporting passions comes in a monetary form. Everyone has that one thing they care about - for me it's the environment - so this year, put your money where your mouth is a pledge to give to an organization of your choice that seeks to make a difference about something you believe in.
9. Read Designing Your Life
So this last one is a little more for you, but stick with me. So many of us (particularly millennials - yes, I'm grouping us together here) are searching for purpose-driven work. We want to work not just because we have to, but because we love to. That's hard! That assumes we know what we want to do. I only recently discovered a true drive and passion within me, but I also sit around and think a lot about that stuff (#nerdmuch?) If you're searching for that perfect job or are looking for a purpose to build your 2019 goals around, I highly recommend checking out the book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Two Stanford architecture professors apply design theory to all aspects of your life, but especially your career, to help you design a life of your own making.... so you can make a difference and set more purpose driven goals.
There are so many things we can do to better our world, both big and small - and it shouldn't be cliché to share them. What are your 2019 goals this year? Share in the comments below!