Many of us will enter New Year’s Day the same way. No, not drunk (although, probably that too). We start the year filled with hope and optimism. Even the cynical among us can’t help but feel just a twinge hopeful that this year will be better than the last.
And it’s with that hope that many of us set New Year’s resolutions that, let’s be honest, 99 per cent of us will not stick to past January 31st.
Yet – and I don’t want to get all Oprah on you, but – we all have the power to make our world the world a little bit better in 2018. The best part is, you don’t have to do anything grand. Simple, little actions can make a big difference.
So with that in mind, we’ve shared seven suggestions for ways you can make 2018 a better year.
Set up a monthly donation to a charity of your choice.
We said these were easy actions right? Well, it doesn’t get much easier than signing up for a monthly set-and-forget direct debit to your favourite charity. It takes less than 10 minutes to set up online at most charity’s websites.
Whether it’s research for an illness like motor neurone disease, or supporting girls in third world countries learning to read, your monthly donation will make a big difference. The best part is, you can make any amount you can afford, like $10 or $30 – and you won’t even notice it leaving your account each month.
Donate your clothes.
Everyone has clothes sitting in their closet they no longer like or wear. Get a large suitcase out (or buy a big bag from a $2 shop), go to your wardrobe and spent half an hour filling it with the clothes you don’t need. Not only are you freeing up space for new clothes, but you’re going to make your chosen op-shop charity a bunch of much-needed cash.
Just try not to let it sit there for months before taking it to a Salvos store.
Buy The Big Issue every fortnight.
If you live or work in a big city, chances are you've walked past a homeless person and felt guilty or conflicted about giving or not giving them money. The chances are, that you have also walked past a The Big Issue vendor selling the magazine.
By making a commitment to buy a copy of The Big Issue each fortnight for $7 - half of which goes to the vendor, you can know you're supporting someone who is either homeless or doing it tough and wants to earn a living - guilt-free. And if you don't live somewhere with street vendors, you can also help women by subscribing.
Call that family member you should call more often.
Whether it's your mum, dad, grandparent or great-aunt, there's a family member in most of our lives that we should contact more often than we do.
Reach out to that person and commit to calling them for a chat weekly or fortnightly. This could work best if you arrange a time with them that suits you both, or just pop a reoccurring reminder in your phone.
Listen: Mia Freedman on why she is #choosingkind. (Post continues.)
Buy all the charity merchandise.
It seems like every month there's a day - from Daffodil Day to White Ribbon Day to Remembrance Day. And there's always pens, pins, teddies and ribbons to buy. Embrace it and spread the love by deciding to buy at least one item in support of each charity or cause's day. Most items start at $2, so it's not a huge expense and each time you look at your colourful collection of pens or pins, you'll get the warm fuzzies knowing you've helped out.
I'll admit this one is vague, but if your approach to 2018 is to be kind in (almost) all your interactions, your actions will ripple out to create a slightly better year for everyone around you. Need ideas? Be the person who gives up their seat on a train, who volunteers to clean up the office kitchen, who gives a lost passer-by directions, who helps a stranger pick up their spilled groceries, who tells a co-worker they look nice today and who is always offering to help out.
Saved til last because, for some, this is the most intimidating act you can think of doing. But volunteering doesn't need to be hard or boring or time-consuming. Visit Do Something Near You, type in your postcode and scroll through the results that come up of community groups in your area that would appreciate some extra hands.
You can commit as little or as much time as you want and sometimes you don't even need to leave your house. Red Cross's Telecross volunteers make daily 2-minute phone calls to older Australians to check they're okay. Volunteering could also be raising your hand to be your child's netball coach or even the joining the social committee at work.
So there you go - pick just one of these or tick off the whole list and wait for the warm feelings to roll in.
Do you do any of these things already? Go on, brag a little and tell us why you decided to help out.