With the New Year’s Eve celebrations comes time for reflection and goal setting. With a blank canvas of a new year before us, we hope for the best and settle for whatever works. This year, however, we should be realistic. Not that we aren’t realistic every year, but setting such goals as losing 50 pounds by summer by cutting out carbs or volunteering 10 hours a week at a local nonprofit or finding one’s true love and getting married, well, such endeavors may be ideal but, for most people, are unattainable. So this year we have a few suggestions that are easy to do and highly rewarding.

1. Care more
It may not seem like a lot just to care more about the people in your life — family, friend, foe or even stranger — but projecting good thoughts on others may actually lead to active participation and a stronger-knit community. But don’t stop there. Take in your environment, pick up a piece of trash and throw it away, ride your bike or walk more instead of driving — that’ll be good for both you and your environment. Further, care more about yourself and your well-being. Think about the food you eat and beverages you drink and their impacts on your body. Treat yourself well. It’s the foundation of everything that we do.

2. Consume less
We are in a culture of whoever has the most, wins; but then what? We take up more space and use more things, but why? Do we really need all that much to be happy? In January, we featured a story about a woman living in a tiny house with only the bare essentials, and she seemed more content than those with huge spreads and a need for more, more, more! So why not give “less is more” a try. If you can’t do with less, then aim for smart consumption with brands that are local, environmentally responsible and use recycled products. Think quality over quantity. Also, reusing containers by refilling them is trending. Join the “in” crowd.

3. Give more
No matter how much, or even how little, we have, giving is key. But it’s not that we must give away the money we have and worked for, but rather that our time is just as valuable in many cases. There are various nonprofits that would be just as happy for helping hands. Plan a few hours over one weekend a month. Or get involved in one project that isn’t super time consuming but makes a difference. There are plenty of opportunities. Find yours here: vcunitedway.org.

4. Stop being so negative
In 2014, we saw tensions spike all around the country, from social injustice to deeply divided political ideologies. We fight, we murmur, we speak ill of each other. This year, perhaps putting down the swords and picking up the olive branches will serve us better. When it comes to standing by your personal beliefs, maybe listen carefully to a different perspective. If you can’t see the positive, then don’t default to negative. Aim for compromise rather than antagonize. It’s not doing anyone any good to be a jerk.

5. Don’t give up
If you fail to accomplish any of these things in January, then try again in February, March, April — whenever. Strive for small accomplishments and go from there. Whatever the case may be, don’t give up because of life getting in the way. Just be patient and don’t be discouraged. We are all in this boat together, and progress usually happens in incremental steps, not in huge leaps