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IT'S NOT TOO LATE TO MAP OUT YOUR VOLUNTEER YEAR

With the holiday season in the rear-view mirror and winter in full swing, now is the perfect time to grab your favorite hot beverage, a pen and paper, and jot down a strategy for a successful year in which you’ll Create the Good.

Take time for reflection

Write down everything the comes to mind as you think back over your volunteer past. What was your first-ever volunteer role? Did you help with a parent or perhaps classmates as a child? How did it make you feel? Which role or roles have brought you the most joy? Do you feel like you could have done more volunteering recently, or did you feel as though you took on too much? If none of this applies and you’re volunteering for the first time, notate your interests and what personal or professional skills you can bring to any potential volunteer role.

Map out the year

Planning or outlining your schedule before conducting a volunteer search can help make it easier to find your ideal fit and reduce frustration later in the year. Jot down your daily, weekly and monthly routine. Which activities are set in stone, and which time slots are already booked? Make sure to review your wall and/or digital calendar as well and note any planned (or even anticipated) vacation time.

Get to the good stuff

With a basic review of your past and an understanding of your availability going forward, now is the time to zero in on your ideal role. Let the answers to these questions be your guide.

  • When do you wish to volunteer? (ex. Full time, one hour per day, one day per week, mornings, etc.)
  • Where would you like to volunteer? (ex. At home/online, outdoors, indoors, overseas)
  • With whom do wish to volunteer? (ex. Working alone, with a group setting, one-on-one)
  • Would you prefer working with people, animals, the environment or something else?
  • Are you interested in trying something totally new, or taking on multiple projects this year?
  • Do you have friends and/or family who may be interested in joining you?

Get it in writing

Take a moment to review your notes and look for any consistent patterns. Perhaps you’ve identified a new role you hadn’t previously considered. Based on what you’ve jotted down, draft a personal statement—a simple sentence such as “I, Jane Doe, will commit to 40 hours of volunteering this year at my local food pantry.” The more specific, the better. Lastly, set reminders on your phone, or jot them on your calendar, to review your statement and monitor your progress throughout the year.

By making this process part of your annual routine, you should start to feel more in control of your volunteer life. And when you bookmark createthegood.aarp.org and our simple volunteer search, you’ll always have ideas and strategies to help you be your best volunteer self. 


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