Over the past six years, our 12 Months of Kindness project has given our years (and lives) a little something extra. A little less bit of feeling like we're just steadily marching through time - it has forced us, at least once a month, to look up from our daily busy and see how much we have to be grateful for. A reminder that because we have been given much, we too must give.
It strengthens our desire to be those kinds of people. The kinds of people who resolve to take responsibility for those around them. The kinds of people that focus on what is possible and not what feels overwhelming. The kinds of people who extend a hand into the empty space between us and another. That's the kind of people we want to be and 12 Months of Kindness is a monthly reminder that we can be those kinds of people; as long as we keep trying.
There are a few important pieces to making sure you have a successful year of 12 Months of Kindness and after six years - we've found these to the be main cornerstones:
- Plan ahead: it is imperative to make your list of 12 acts of kindness at the start of your year. Look through the future months and consider the events you already have scheduled (birthdays, vacations, seasons, holidays, etc) and try to think about acts of kindness that will be feasible within each month's constraints (financial, time, physical)
- Make sure your tasks are measurable: this is important on all lists you make, but especially for the 12 Months of Kindness List. Make it an actionable item, instead of saying "Give back to our neighborhood" - this is hard to measure when it comes time to whether or not this month was a success. Sure, you didn't start any neighborhood fights and you waved to your elderly neighborhood - but maybe not necessarily something you'd officially qualify as "giving back." Decide instead on a the specific way in which you'll 'give back' - for example, "Pick up trash on our road." or "Give a monetary donation to our local fire department." Those are both tasks that you can certifiably check off the list; you know when they've been completed for sure.
- Display your list in a high-traffic place: our list of 12 acts of kindness hangs on our fridge so that we walk past it several times a day. After the first task is crossed off/highlighted, it serves as even more motivation to continue to make sure we are meeting our goals at monthly kindness.
So, this past week, Brandon and I sat down after the kids went to bed to compile our 2015 12 Months of Kindness challenge for our family. We slotted in our yearly events (May, June, July, and December) and then talked about, pin-searched, and recalled from the past acts of kindness that could fill in the rest of our months of the year.
Lucky for me, some of our months are working double duty as they are also items on my 100 small things list (March and November). We are trying thing this year we've never done (September) and doing some of our old favorites (August, October).
12 Months of Kindness
January: Give someone the 'day off'
February: Anonymously pay for someone's dinner while out to eat
March: serve a meal at the Winder Area Community Kitchen
April: Send a special care package to Raph (our friend through World Vision)
May: award two CV high school seniors with the Studer Scholarship (7th year)
June: organize the 2nd annual CVAA Superhero 5K and Family Fun Run/Walk
July: 7th Annual Studer's Invitational Beer Olympics!
August: Donation of goods to the Cambria County Humane Society
September: Assist at/with the Johnstown Backpack Project
October: Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF
November: host an Oxfam America Hunger Banquet
December: participate in Giving Tuesday
Besides our commitment to the 12 Months of Kindness Project (#12mokp on instagram if you join!), we also try to choose kindness everyday in our interactions with one another and others. Things like refraining from name-calling, saying 'please' & 'thank you' every time, and waving to our neighbors as we drive by.
I'm also hoping to do a semi-revival of my 12 Months of Kindness Project blog (yea, who forgot that it existed? this chick), mostly with a boost of facebook page posts and sharing other people's stories of kindness and RAOKs.
Are you making a plan to add kindness as a goal to your 2015? I want to hear about it!! Comment or link up below!