Back on track

21 ways to start 2021 with a plan to move ahead. Tips for your club and yourself.

We’re among friends, so let’s be honest: The past year has been rough. Throughout the Kiwanis family, people have lost loved ones. Jobs. Income. Time with friends and community.

What we haven’t lost is our belief in a better world for kids — and our commitment to the service that makes it happen. So let’s take what we have and use it to get back on track. 

Even with so much uncertainty, we can keep ourselves moving forward by setting goals and then working to meet them. After all, that’s what we do even in normal times. But this isn’t a normal time, so we’ve created a couple of lists: one for your Kiwanis club and one for your own well-being. 

Take what you need and add your own. Most of all, have some fun this year. And give what you can while taking care of yourself. 

Happy 2021.

Club goals

Invite friends
Make it your goal to invite a specific number of guests to your Kiwanis club meetings in 2021. Think you can invite one a month? Go for it. Even one is better than none. Keep track of who you’ve invited and follow up to see whether they’d like to join you at a service project. Then ask them to join.

Work together
Reach out to other Kiwanis clubs in your division and district to see whether there are opportunities to collaborate on service and to support one another. More hands make for lighter work.

Communicate soon
Since January is the start of a new year, let people know you’re ready to go. Send your club’s electronic newsletter and video-meeting invitations to all former members, past guest speakers, youth-oriented nonprofit leaders (staff and volunteer), youth ministers, etc. Let them know you haven’t forgotten them!

Reward people
Recognize club members and leaders for their first-quarter accomplishments — especially those who have brought in at least one new member. Keep track of members who have brought the most guests to club meetings and service projects, sponsored the most new members, logged in the most service hours and donated to the Kiwanis Children’s Fund and club or district foundations. 

Remember schools
Reach out to a local school association for parents, such as the Parent Teacher Association in the U.S., or any group that brings parents together. Start talking about collaboration on service projects for the school, the teachers and, most importantly, the students. Invite association members to join your Kiwanis club. 

Review calendars
Look at your community’s calendar for 2021. Are there future events during which your Kiwanis club can assist or volunteer? Can the club set up a membership information booth to promote the experience? 

Kiwanis and Circle K, CKI volunteers at Clean Up Orlando, photo by Roberto Gonzalez

Contact SLPs
The start of the new year is often the start of a new school semester, so check in with the members and faculty advisors of Service Leadership Program clubs you sponsor. Let them know you want to host members from each SLP for a Kiwanis Celebration of Service Leadership panel discussion during an April meeting. 

Nudge hibernators
For clubs in colder climates, check in with members you might not have seen at a meeting or service project during “hibernation” season. Let them know fellow members care — and want to see them again. 

Follow up
Look at recent prospects who didn’t join after inquiring about your club and/or attending a club meeting or service project. If membership wasn’t quite right, would your club take them on as satellite members and allow them to do their own service projects? Discuss this topic at an upcoming club meeting.

Go virtual
Look at every meeting, service project and fundraiser. Can you offer a virtual option along with in-person attendance?

Get social
Invest some time in updating your club’s social media presence (Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to make sure all information is relevant and timely. 

Personal goals

Journal daily
Have you ever kept a diary of your day? Jotted down how you felt, who you talked with or met, what you ate? If not, maybe now is the time. Buy a journal that feels good in your hands, offers a good size for writing or sketching and lays open well for easy use. Jot down goals for the next day as well. Don’t forget to date each entry.

Exercise more
We know, we know: exercise. Ugh. But it turns out that even light-to-moderate activity is great for your heart and circulation. And it’s good for your mental health. So find out what works best for you. Even if you take a slow 30-minute walk, you’re doing your body good. 

Eat well
Here’s an easy one to remember: The more color on your plate, the healthier you’re eating. (Unless it’s candies or a sugary breakfast cereal. Sorry.) Go for citrus fruits loaded with Vitamin C, and for greens such as kale. Potatoes and peppers and carrots come in multiple colors too. Walk through the produce section of your market and see how many you can put on your plate.

Pamper yourself
You can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself. Set aside some time alone each day. Read or do a puzzle. Meditate. Listen to music. Soak in a warm bath. If it helps you relax, it helps you be the person other people need.

Spend wisely
Think about what you’re spending money on, how you’re saving and where your money is needed most. Look at your monthly expenses to see where it’s all going and how you can do better. And remember: Experiences leave a more meaningful memory than any material gift.

Stay connected
We don’t mean social media this time — leave that to your Kiwanis club! Instead, reach out to friends on the phone. Write a letter to grandkids, nieces and nephews. Plan a picnic with your partner. Call ahead, put on a mask and go visit a neighbor. 

Spread kindness
Wave at strangers in your neighborhood. Write a thank-you note to a teacher. Drop off canned goods at a shelter. Arrange with your local fire department to thank folks there with homemade cookies. Plant a tree with your kids. There is no end to the ways you can spread kindness. 

Welcome change
Life is hard, and with it comes change. It’s inevitable. But it also brings growth. Talk to people about your concerns — including young people, who seem to take change better than most. Read books about accepting new circumstances. After all, how we handle change defines how smoothly we move forward.

Forgive others
We all make mistakes. Reach out to people in your life who have hurt you — or who have hurt people you love. Sometimes just saying you forgive someone lifts a weight you didn’t know you were carrying. Start the conversation — and the chance to start the year with a clean slate.

Love hard
If there’s one thing to do well in your life, love well. And love hard. Love with all your might. Throw love in all directions. Tell your friends as often as your family. Look upon strangers with love. Once you remember that we’re born with love in our hearts, you’ll see it in the smile of a baby — or on the face of a kid whose life you’ve changed. Serve, and send love far and wide.

This story originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Kiwanis magazine.

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