Most of the New Year's Resolutions we make are ambitious, and require a monumental amount of daily perseverance and determination. We want to lose weight, eat better, learn a new language, or quit a bad habit. This is all well and good. Indeed, the New Year can jumpstart a new routine of Herculean self-betterment.
But for 2016, we at The American School of Protocol® challenge you to not neglect the smaller goals. Make a daily challenge for yourself that you can work on all 365 - or in the case of this year - 366 days. Here are a few examples of some of our smaller goals to get you started on the crusade to make the world a friendlier, more considerate place.
1. Smile. Flashing a smile can go a long way towards making someone else's day brighter. Keep a mental reserve of your happiest, funniest moments that you can recall to put a smile on your face.
2. Leave a place in better condition than you found it. Challenge yourself to improve a public space. If you spot a piece of trash on the ground, be the person who takes the time to pick it up and throw it away. It's an admirable thing to see someone inconvenience themselves in this way for the betterment of the entire community.
3. Arrive on time. If punctuality doesn't come naturally, give yourself an additional 10 minute "emergency gap" to allow for last-minute activities. Create a playlist for your morning routine that is exactly as long as you have to get ready - it's a fun way to keep yourself on track. But if you know you're going to be late ahead of time, communicate this to your friends, coworkers, or host through a quick, apologetic call.
4. Make your commute a pleasant time. In Atlanta, we are all too familiar with traffic. It can be uninteresting as a routine part of your day, and downright enraging when unexpected traffic makes you late. This year, the traffic won't change, but you can. Make the time a positive one for yourself. Find a podcast to listen to during the ride about a subject that interests you. Sing along with the radio and relieve your stress. Don't forget to make the monotonous crawl a little bit better for others - let someone into your lane during your commute, give someone a wave or a smile, and be patient with slower drivers. Remember the old adage: You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic!
5. Express your compliments. This is one that I took to heart a few years ago after I personally experienced how powerful simple compliments can be. If my waitress has a great hairstyle, I make sure to tell her. If a man standing in line in front of me at the grocery store looks great in that shade of blue, I speak up. We all have these thoughts, but many of us neglect to share them. An impromptu compliment from a stranger is really memorable. Be the one to brighten other people's days.
6. Improve your communicative style. Listen to others, and pay attention to your communication habits. If you tend to dominate conversation, strive to ask your partner questions about themselves. If you find making small talk difficult, challenge yourself to hold quick chats with strangers during your day-to-day life.
At the end of the year, many of us want to be able to look back and see tangible improvements in ourselves. If our goal was to loose 25 pounds and we are halfway through, a pat on the back is necessary. These resolution revolutions won't be so easily seen, but they will be felt... and by so many more people. Help us make 2016 the best and brightest year yet.