There has never been a better time to change the world than now and there’s no better time to start than the New Year. The most important thing to know is that you can change the world. As Steve Jobs puts it, “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
There are plenty of problems to solve and many ways to solve them. No matter how big or small your plans are for changing the world this year, you can use these tips to help you meet your goals successfully.
1. Be Yourself
Good news! You don’t need to change yourself to change the world. You are already well equipped to make a positive impact. If you harness your unique talents and skills to do good, you will change the world.
Everyone has a unique skill and expertise they’ve developed over the years, whether it’s cooking, marketing, photography, or even the ability to make people laugh. This year, find a way to use it for good.
One of the biggest ways to capitalize on your expertise is to have an impact in your professional life. You are an expert at what you do, and you can apply that expertise to a good cause. If you’re a chef, inspire others with new locally produced foods. If you’re a marketer, take on a new client who is making a difference. If you’re a photographer, inspire action with beauty. And if you can make people laugh, you’re already making the world better.
If you can’t find a way to make a difference in your professional life, there are plenty of non-profits that would love for you to volunteer your expertise to propel their world changing cause.
2. Know Yourself (and Your Goals)
This year millions of people trying to get in shape will radically change their diet and start going to the gym, only to revert back to their old ways after only a few weeks. Keeping true to a new year’s resolution is often difficult, but your chances of succeeding significantly increase when you clearly define your goals and make a plan to get there. Just the act of writing your goals down will help you define them and think them through. Once you’ve decided how you’re going to change the world, make sure you write it down and set attainable benchmarks for yourself.
If you’re like most of us, you’ll be excited and ready to share your new goals with everyone. But wait! Studies show that keeping your goals to yourself actually makes you more likely to achieve them. It turns out that the gratification received just from announcing a goal to peers lowers motivation.
3. Stay Inspired & Motivated
Wouldn’t it be nice if we were able to maintain that inspiration we feel at the beginning of the year all year long?
If you’re going to change the world this year you’ll need re-up on your inspiration regularly and the best way to recharge yourself is to simply do the things you love. For many people experiencing nature is a passion and it makes sense. Experiencing nature reduces stress, increases creativity, and inspires. Prioritizing time to spend in nature will help keep you motivated and on track to achieving your goals.
If you can’t get out and travel or experience nature, reading and writing can have a similar impact on your spirit. Reading is shown to reduce stress and help prioritize goals as well as improve your health and make you happier – all of which are ingredients for inspiration. If you’re looking for a new book, “Save the World and Still Be Home for Dinner” is a great inspiration for the New Year.
If you’re motivated to change the world it’s probably because you love it, so get out and see the world that’s worth saving! For those times when you can’t get out, reading and writing are great alternatives.
4. Watch What You Eat
Of the thousands of people who are pledging to eat healthier this year, most probably aren’t considering the impact their newly formed eating habits will have on the environment. As documentaries such as Food Inc. and Cowspiracy have revealed, the modern food system is far from sustainable, but we have the power to change it by supporting sustainable practices with our purchases.
Our seemingly insignificant eating habits quickly add up and choosing environmentally friendly options can make an enormous difference. Simply cutting back on your consumption of meat will have a bigger impact on the environment than how much you recycle or what kind of vehicle you drive. Over the course of this year, if you eat one less burger per week, it’s like taking your car off the road for 320 miles.
If you want to make a minor lifestyle change that will have a major impact, this is it. Every time you make a decision about what to eat you cast a vote for the way it was produced and the impact it has on our world. Voting has never been easier.
5. Keep it Modest
Everyone has that friend who makes a life-changing New Year’s resolution every year, only to slip back to their old routine after only a few weeks.
One of the main reasons we have a hard time keeping to our resolutions is we start off too aggressively. Going from not working out to hitting the gym five days a week is a drastic change in our lifestyle and it isn’t sustainable.
If your goal is to go vegetarian or vegan, it’s really difficult to do it cold turkey. You have to learn new ways to cook, find new places to eat, and explain to all of your friends what you’re doing over and over again. That’s a lot of work. Rather than taking on that monumental task, work on a more modest goal that is feasible with your current lifestyle.
Start with small steps. Once you’ve developed a new positive habit like eating vegetarian one day a week, you can up it to two days a week. This allows you to slowly adjust your lifestyle and maintain a comfortable pace for yourself. Be lenient with yourself and track your progress. Just like writing down your goals, tracking your progress will help you visualize the difference you have made and it will keep you motivated to continue.
You’ll soon find you’ve come a long way and at the end of the year you’ll have something to show for it rather than the need to make an even bigger resolution for the next year.
Ready to change the world in 2016?
The New Year is a great time to start thinking about how you’re going to make a difference in the world, but it shouldn’t be the only time you do so. Consistent action over a long period of time is much more effective than short bursts that fizzle out. The tortoise always beats the hare, remember?
There’s nothing wrong with being ambitious. After all, we are setting out to change the world here. Just remember to stay focused and inspired. You will change the world the world this year and next year and every year after that.