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As we approach the end of the near, now is the perfect time to reflect on your volunteer experience and make a mental roadmap for how you wish to make a difference next year, and beyond. Here are a few tips and links to get you started on your journey of reflection and inspiration.

Let’s make a list

Grab a sheet of paper, or just do this on your computer. Make two columns—one for positive, and one for negative. Now think back over the past year of volunteering and jot down what you liked best or least in the appropriate column. If you didn’t have a chance to volunteer, that’s ok, too. Fill the positive column with ideas of how you “think” you would have felt if you had, and fill the negative column with all of your worries and concerns about volunteering.

Plus vs. Minus

Now, let’s focus on the positive. Think of all the ways in which you can build on your positive experiences, or if you weren’t active as a volunteer, how you can activate those positive thoughts in the year ahead. Shifting to the negative, think about how you can overcome any of your worries. Can you change your position, or try something new? Can you reach out to a mentor for guidance? And again, if you’re new to volunteering and exploring opportunities, think of which ones will allow you to minimize the negative, and maximize the positive. 

Getting specific

In this stage, let’s focus on facts. How much time will you have next year? Will it make more sense to volunteer at morning or night, at home or maybe even overseas? Will you need to make lifestyle changes in order to volunteer, and can you find opportunities that provide both personal and societal benefits? For example, training for a race that can help you get in shape while you raise funds for an important cause. All of these “facts,” together will help shape the positives and negatives, help define who you are as a volunteer and can guide you down the right path. This entire process is a great exercise to repeat each year, or whenever you feel like you might not be meeting your full volunteer potential.

Time to take action

With your self-assessment in satisfactory form, now is the time to find your perfect match. Here a few ideas to get you thinking, and get you started.

Feed the hungry

This handy DIY site shows you how to organize a food drive. Or you can sign up to deliver hot meals around town, all year round.

Share your business skills helps startups get off the ground. You can share your expertise with someone who resolves to start a new business this year.

Point neighbors in the right direction

You can be an advocate for those in need when you help community members access public services and benefits.

Go green

Early spring is a great time to start planning or contributing to a community garden.

Quit, once and for all

If you struggle with nicotine addiction, or know someone who does, this resource can help you make a change that just might save your life.

Build something

Meet new friends and improve the lives of your fellow community members as a Habitat for Humanity volunteer.

Be there when people need you most

With the right training, you can become a suicide prevention volunteer, and make a difference right from your phone when you volunteer for the Crisis Text Line.

No matter which path you choose in your volunteer journey, Create the Good resources are always here to help. Find even more volunteer ideas with this simple volunteer search.

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