It might be the last day of the year, but with many gyms closed, kids at home, and many of us (over here in Europe at least) once again in strict lockdown, it's not exactly the perfect time for the usual health and wellness focused New Year's resolutions for lots of folks.
But even if you can't imagine spending the next few months sticking to a rigorous new exercise routine or give up the comfort of your favorite unhealthy habit that doesn't mean you need to throw the concept of resolutions out the window until this pandemic is blessedly, finally over.
As several experts have pointed out here on Inc.com before, resolutions don't have to be dutiful and less than pleasant. They can be joyful -- a pledge to do more of something that makes you happy, a small reminder of your deepest values, or a commitment to go deeper into that hobby or interest you never seem to find time for.
Or, as a TED Ideas post recently pointed out, your resolution need not be focused on you at all. It could be aimed at making the world a better place. That's likely to improve not only your community but also your mood. Science shows that the best way to improve your own well-being is to take care of others.
So here are a few of the TED speakers' suggestions to inspire your own world-improving, soul-nourishing resolutions:
1. Become a weekday vegetarian.
Or a daylight-hours vegan, or a Meatless Monday practitioner. It really doesn't matter what formula works best for you as long as you're cutting down on meat and adding more plant-based food to your diet. As a massive recent review of nutrition science revealed, that's certain to make you healthier. It's also certain to make our environment healthier too.
As journalist Graham Hill explained in his TED Talk, "Cutting [meat] five days a week is cutting 70 percent of your meat intake. My footprint's smaller, I'm lessening pollution, I feel better about the animals, I'm even saving money. Best of all, I'm healthier, I know that I'm going to live longer, and I've even lost a little weight."
2. Check that your money isn't in conflict with your values.
In her TED talk, radiation oncologist Bronwyn King explains how she was horrified to discover that while she spent her days treating cancer patients, her retirement savings was invested in tobacco companies. Checking to make sure your investments line up with your values and reevaluating whether the businesses you buy from behave as you hope they would is a straightforward way to nudge the world toward a brighter future.
3. Sign up to be a reverse mentee.
We're all familiar with traditional mentoring, where a senior colleague agrees to take someone more junior under their wing. What's reverse mentoring? As the name implies, it's when a seasoned professional instead asks someone much younger to teach them how the world looks through youthful eyes.
As Patrice Gordon, who mentored Virgin Atlantic's CEO as part of the company's innovative reverse mentoring program, notes in her TED Talk, these sorts of relationships aren't just a great way to find innovative new ideas for your business. They've also been proven to make companies more welcoming for minorities.
"Studies have shown that when organizations embrace reverse mentoring members of those underrepresented groups feel more confident in sharing their perspectives," says Gordon. That means you'll not just learn what the cool kids are into these days. You'll also be making the world (and your workplace) a little more just, too.