New Year’s resolutions, we make them then break them. In fact, 1 in 3 of us have given them up by the end of January and less than half of us make it past the 6-month mark.
But could New Year be an opportunity to #CHANGE and if so, how?
According to the latest research, if we have a goal range that is realistic and a meaningful purpose, it is possible to make positive changes, for ourselves, our communities and the world.
But knowing where to start is often the hardest task of all. So for one of my own New Year’s resolutions I’m doing what I can to help change happen. I’ve put together a handy guide (based on social impact research) of the top 10 most effective changes we could all make that could change the world as we know it.
Be open to change. Studies show that people who are open to change and willing to do things differently are happier, healthier and lead more fulfilled lives. But to get there, we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones. To help make 2019 the year when you’ll do just that, check out Do Something Different, an app and a platform that helps you do things differently by taking you out of your comfort zone to launch you on a new path in life, making you happier and the world a better place.
Start small. As Chinese philosopher Lao-Tsu said, ‘The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step’. If the idea of a sustainable, zero waste, plastic free, car free lifestyle seems like an impossible ask for you or your family, there are many small steps that you can take that will make a big difference. The brilliant Jen Gail of Sustainableish has put together a handy guide with 101 ideas of tiny acts that can have a positive impact for you to pick and choose what works for you.
Spend with care. We all make decisions every day about how we spend our money. By knowing who we are doing business with and where are money is going, we can make caring, conscious choices. To help us vote wisely with our wallets, check out Ethical Consumer they’ve done the legwork and have the lowdown on brands big and small so you can be sure your money makes a statement.
Take and make time. In a world where we send 30 million WhatsApp messages, carry out 3.8 million Google searches and post 3.3 million Facebook updates every minute, it’s no wonder that time has become our biggest commodity. But by super charging everything we do, never switching off and constantly living in Fear Of Missing Out, are we missing out on life itself? We’ve become so busy and obsessed with instant gratification that we don’t even notice people in the same room. But is fast always best? Do we really need everything immediately? In fact, do we need any of the stuff we think we do at all? The truth is, our on-demand lifestyles are clogging up and polluting our cities. Parcel deliveries surged by 50% between 2014 and 2016 with vehicles spending an hour trying to park. In the haste to consume, we’re even hampering the elderly from getting to hospitals because Amazon trucks are causing gridlock. So, perhaps 2019 is the time to make time for the people and things that really matter; to have patience, to walk down the road instead of taking the car, to turn off, slow down and take the time to notice the people, things and experiences that are all around us – to be in the moment. You might want to check out my favourite recent discovery (bought for me for Chanukah by my daughter Maia) is the magazine Delayed Gratification, a slow journalism magazine that takes the time to cover stories the way they should be.
Reduce, reduce, reduce. The statistics speak for themselves, if we continue consuming at the rate that we are, we’ll need 5 planets to sustain us. In North America, 99% of goods purchased are trashed within 6 months. Shopping doesn’t make us happier or more fulfilled, in fact it makes us more miserable, more isolated and puts us in debt. So why not try reducing what you buy? If you need something, check out sites like Freegle where you can find stuff nearby – for free. If you do decide there’s something that you really need then why not buy a product that lasts for life, rather than something that’s designed for obsolescence?
Repair and reuse. One way to care for our planet and save cash is to repair and reuse goods and resources. If fixing isn’t your thing, you can find a local Repair Café and get some help from those who know how.
Be kind and fair, act with care. Being kind not only makes others happy, it makes us happy too. Why not try the Kindness 365 Challenge and cultivate change through kindness.
Speak out. 'Only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking'. As justice campaigner Audre Lord reminds us, change happens when we speak out, when we stand up for what is right and understand that doing (or saying) nothing actually means supporting what’s wrong.
Connect offline, in the real world. Studies show that although we are digitally more connected than ever, it’s real life face-to-face connections that people crave. So make 2019 the year that you’ll knock on a neighbour’s door, join a local choir or find a Meetup near you.
Share. Of course I’ve saved the best until last. Ask yourself what can you share? From goods to skills, sharing makes us happier but the best thing you can share is positivity. June 16th, 2019 will see the biggest ever Global Sharing Week and the publication of Generation Share, a coffee-table book that I’ve co-created with visual storyteller Sophie Sheinwald telling the positive stories of the change-makers building the Sharing Economy.
Our individual New Year’s resolutions in themselves, can’t change the world, but don’t underestimate the cumulative power of many small actions. So whatever you decide to change for 2019, #CHANGE! something. As Aristotle said, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’.
If you are interested in behaviour change and want to take part in my #CHANGE! project email me firstname.lastname@example.org or join the conversation on Twitter #CHANGE! @benitamatofska and if you haven’t already, take my 1-minute survey and find out if answering a survey can change the world.
 Smart Insights, 2017 https://www.smartinsights.com/internet-marketing-statistics/happens-online-60-seconds/
 Pitney Bowes, 2017
 Annie Leonard, Story of Stuff.