Photo by Ray Hennessy
Once again, the time to make New Year’s resolutions is upon us. Many people find themselves a bit disillusioned at this prospect — after all, how many can even remember what they resolved to change for 2018, let alone followed through on?
It’s time to reclaim the resolution as a positive force for helping the world as a whole. Imagine how much brighter 2020 will become if everyone resolves to do their part in making 2019 the year of the helper.
1. Let the Vampires “Bite”
Blood banks regularly face shortages with good reason — only 4 percent of those eligible to donate blood do so. According to the American Red Cross, the average person consumes red blood cells at a rate of 36,000 units per day.
Those who have already overstretched their budget for the holiday season can still give back by donating blood. Most adults can donate as often as every eight weeks. Giving blood causes the body to generate fresh new cells to replace the loss, so it’s like a mini spring cleaning every two months!
2. Pamper a Pet
Those who enjoy the company of non-human animals more than most people can resolve to put their passion for pets to good use in 2019. Local animal shelters and humane societies always need volunteers to help feed, walk and socialize adoptable animals. Also, homeless doggies and kitties desperately need loving foster homes.
3. Add a Fundraiser to Holiday Fun
People who are responsible for organizing family or workplace holiday festivities should consider adding a charitable cause to the list of activities. One example is a twist on the classic White Elephant party theme, in which all guests bring a gift of a new, unwrapped toy to donate to kids in need. Or, a business can encourage participation in their annual food drive by instituting a raffle where each donation of food enters employees into a contest for a chance to win an extra paid day off.
4. Get Social for a Cause
Instead of resolving to delete all those time-wasting social media accounts in 2019 — honestly, who sticks to such resolutions, anyway? — people can choose to dedicate one post per week to raising awareness of a cause they are passionate about. Followers on social media seek out Facebook pages and Instagram accounts of folks who share similar interests, and those who regularly post about their cause can attract like-minded people. Whether the posts are about embracing vegan eating or advocating avidly for awareness of a rare disease, anyone can soon become a resource for others seeking to learn more about their favorite cause.
5. Resolve to Recycle
By now, everybody should recycle, but landfill statistics state otherwise. Even though 75 percent of solid waste in America is recyclable, only 10 percent makes it to the recycling center. There’s no excuse not to recycle at home, and, for extra credit, employees can start an office recycling program and get a fresh-air productivity boost each time they take the bins to the center.
6. Cut Calories by Donating Them
How many folks resolve to lose weight each new year? This year, those who want to keep their weight-loss goals on point can simultaneously donate to the causes they care about while working out by downloading the Charity Miles app. The app works by tracking your exercise, and every mile you move helps earn money for the charities you’ve chosen to donate your miles to!
7. Support a Senior and Their Caregiver
Trying to juggle holiday preparations while caring for an elderly family member can cause the most even-tempered folks to frazzle. But those needing constant care don’t mysteriously heal this time of year.
People who know someone caring for a senior family member can ease their workload by taking over as caretaker once a week to allow the regular caregiver uninterrupted time to shop or just to relax and take some time for themselves. Temporary caretakers can plan structured outings, depending on the physical abilities of the patient, or make sure the caretaker’s beloved senior family member stays safe while they take a much-needed break.
8. Get to Know the Neighbors
Between family, work and general life demands, few people take the time to get to know their neighbors, which can lead to feelings of isolation even for those who live in bustling neighborhoods.
One option is to start a new tradition of a neighborhood get-together! Preferably, people who choose this option should resolve to hold neighborhood mixers once per quarter, so residents old and new all have a chance to meet and forge new friendships.
9. Get Fit for a Cause
Besides losing weight, getting in better shape ties for the top spot of most popular resolutions. To make getting fit easier, New Year’s resolution-makers can link their fitness goals to a cause by seeking out races, dance-a-thons and other fitness-related events that donate the majority of proceeds to charities. Training to help others can make a world of difference on days when that motivation lags.
10. Cultivate Compassion
Too often, people develop blinders in life that lead them to deny or at least downplay the struggles others face. A good resolution idea, then, is to spend at least five minutes daily cultivating compassion as a meditative practice.
Becoming more empathetic means getting down and dirty to see the world through the eyes of those less fortunate. Those developing this new practice should put themselves in the place of someone they saw struggling that day. This practice can lead to a more compassionate worldview of people who are struggling.Many folks can’t afford to become philanthropists, but everyone has something they can do to make the world a better place. This year, we can all resolve to perform small acts of kindness throughout 2019. If everybody sets this goal, it will create a kinder, more compassionate world by the time the ball drops to ring in 2020.
Kate is a journalist from northern Pennsylvania. She writes about everything from health to politics, but especially loves stories about social good. If you like her work, you can visit her personal blog, So Well, So Woman.