Make this New Year Matter, Together!

Blog by Margaret McEvilly and Katelyn Herrygers

As we get ready to say goodbye to 2019, we are reminded that we are not just saying goodbye to another year, we are saying goodbye to a decade. In this decade you may have become a new teacher, a spouse, a parent, a giver, or a better version of yourself. You may have found a new passion or inspired someone you know to follow their own! The decade was full of memories that are worth noting. Think about it. What were some of your best memories of the last decade? It is likely the best memories are linked to generosity and acts of service. It's a scientific fact, when we give, we feel good and that feeling sticks with us. With 2020 just around the corner, Learning to Give is here to help you look forward to the memories your kids and students will make through generosity and acts of service in the new year. 

The History of New Year’s Resolutions

Over the years, people made it a tradition to come up with a New Year’s Resolution at the beginning of a new year. These resolutions are really just a goal, or goals, that you set for yourself and possibly for others. These resolutions can be big or small. Maybe you have a bad habit you want to break or there is a positive habit you hope to develop this year. Your goal can be time, talent, or treasure based. Any resolution to better your lifestyle and the world around you is a resolution worth having! Help inspire your kids and students to think of one thing they want to do in 2020 that has a ripple effect. 

Tips on Setting Your 2020 Resolution

At Learning to Give, we encourage you to make 2020 a year all about generosity and service! Your resolutions are not limited to short or long-term goals, everyone’s needs are different. If you are struggling to come up with a new goal, reach out to family and friends for some inspiration, or see if there is a need you can help meet in your community. Maybe you didn’t have time to help in the past but now is the perfect time to make time!

While you may be wondering how to go about starting this new year off right, there are a few easy steps to ensure that help you focus on what matters in this coming year. Reviewing your year in its entirety is a great way to realize what went well for you, what you accomplished, what you changed in your life that made you happier, and what you wish you spent more time doing (Thayer). Reflection, an important part of daily life, is also a critical practice of the IPARD Service-Learning process you use with your students when you facilitate Learning to Give lessons and projects. By critically thinking about aspects of your life, you will be able to come up with ways to make this next year a positive one for both yourself and the people you surround yourself with. 

Learning to Give New Year Resources and Activities

Learning to Give offers an abundance of resources and lessons that help promote community and classroom wellness:

Creating a Welcoming Classroom All Year: Students gain empathy and use language to describe the mixed feelings that come with being part of a new community. (K-5)

Blue Sky Envisioning Activity: Help your students get to know what they care about and why! (K-12) 

Finding the Seed of Need: Inform your students about the needs of the community around them. (6-8)

What is My Responsibility?: Students learn how to be responsible within their school and community and take what they have learned to make their community a healthier place! (K-2)

Activities and lessons like these are just a starting point. There are over 1,700 lesson plans to choose from, and each has its own philanthropic focus to guide youth to learn and engage in generosity and community. These resources help remind us that giving back to your community can be in the form of time, talent, or treasure. By learning how to empathize and care for your community, you and your students will be able to set the tone for a positive year and more importantly, a positive community!

Why Learning to Give Values New Year’s Resolutions

For the 2020 year, we at Learning to Give challenge you to not only come up with a resolution for yourself, but also one to help better the community around you as a whole. Contributing to an inclusive, positive, and loving community is something that can not only better someone’s day but it can also lead to chain reactions of goodness around you. The community you serve may be your neighborhood or the classroom that you teach in, or any other way you define community, but offering support to the community is a great way to ensure happiness and comfort for those within it.

Benefits of Giving Back

Giving back to the world is beneficial both for the community around you, as well as yourself. There are many benefits that accompany acts of service. It has been found that giving back can promote physical and mental health benefits. This could range from muscle gain as a result of physical labor, or less stress and better sleep because you can feel that you are making a difference around you. Perhaps most importantly is how giving back addresses the needs in your community in general. This can be on a local or global scale.

By giving back you are helping those around you in need, as well as bettering the entirety of the atmosphere around you (The Borgen Project). Being able to live in a community that fosters togetherness and growth for one another is something we strive for. By learning from your community, there is infinite opportunity to strengthen your community and the relationships you have within it. Being able to make an impact on your own community with the people you share it with is an incredible way to begin and end your year (AARP).

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

New Year’s Resolutions are notoriously forgotten after a matter of months, but you can push through this year and those to come by pursuing the goals that you set for yourself and with your students. In his blog, “Psych Central,” John M. Grohol found that at the end of six months the percentage of people who stayed with their New Year’s Resolution was 40 percent, and after two years only 19 percent of people were still keeping up with their original goal. 

We understand that life gets in the way and changes are made, but with our resources and support, Learning to Give is here to help you keep your giving resolutions! The first step in ensuring permanent change is being ready and willing to change--this is your first motivational factor. Beyond that, make your resolutions SMART. Resolutions, like goals, should be specific, measurable, action-oriented, relevant, and time bound which makes it easier for you to fit this goal planning into your daily lives. These objectives will play a part in the hopeful success of you, and your students, completing resolutions (Grohol, 2018).

Keeping a resolution may look different in adults versus youth, but understanding how to continuously encourage youth to never give up on their community will help immensely. Praising youth for the good they are doing for the world around them will help not only encourage them, but help them realize the positive change they are making as well. Allowing youth to demonstrate their good work and share their passions is also vital to success. 

Making This Year Matter 

Use the start of this new decade to talk with your students and their families about their passions. Then, encourage them to explore those passions and make a goal out of seeing them realized! Teaching youth the importance of giving back to our community is one of the best things you can do. When we begin to understand the value of community at a young age, the future of our world becomes that much more caring, inclusive, and welcoming. Make this year your year to challenge yourself and those around you to dedicate time to generosity and service.