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How to KEEP your Resolution of Volunteering in 2016

New Year’s resolutions are a beautiful thing. In America, almost half (45%) of us set them each year with lofty dreams of changing and bettering ourselves. Unfortunately those great intentions are short lived as only 8% of us actually stick with them.

Resolving to do something positive may be an easier resolution to stick with than cutting back on a negative behavior. One New Year’s resolution that may not be hard to keep is volunteering. If volunteering is your New Year’s resolution here are some tips to help make it a lifelong activity.

  1. Be specific. An important part of sticking with a resolution is being able to measure your progress and holding yourself accountable. Instead of saying “I want to start volunteering in 2014” say, “I will volunteer 5 hours a month in 2014.” With this specific resolution you will know each month whether or not you have met your goal.
  2. Get real. Setting unrealistic goals too far out of reach sets you up for failure. This is common with weight loss resolutions. People set big goals and quickly abandon ship when they do not see immediate results. When considering volunteering think about an amount of time that you can realistically commit to. It’s often helpful to actually pull out your calendar and look at specific days where you can make the time to volunteer.
  3. Choose wisely. It is easier to make time and stay with something that is of interest to you and within your comfort zone. Start by researching causes that you care about. VolunteerMatch.org makes it really easy to research potential opportunities.  When you visit this site you only need to answer the question “What do you care about” and it will pull up an entire list of volunteer opportunities in your location. You can also find information by visiting Hands on Network, United Way, Doing Good Together or Lotsa Helping Hands. No matter what your interests and talents are there is a volunteer opportunity out there for you.
  4. Create baby steps in your action plan. Once you’ve decided where you would like to volunteer and how often you can commit, it’s time to set the wheels in motion. Outline in small steps what you need to do and give yourself a deadline. For example:
    • Week 1 make the phone calls to the potential places you have identified.
    • Week 2 make a visit to the top contenders.
    • Week 3 decide and get your orientation set up.
  5. Talk about it. Telling others  what you’re up to is a good thing. It holds you accountable and makes you more likely to stick with your goal. Let your family and friends know that you are planning on volunteering, what you have done so far to make your goal a reality and about your experiences as they happen. You may even end up recruiting a new volunteer!

Did you know that people that volunteer actually live longer, have increased cardiovascular health and many other amazing health benefits?  If you need some convincing reasons to make volunteering your New Year’s Resolution, check out our article “Volunteering is Good for your Health Too”.

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