Featured photo by Larm Rmah
Now that we are a few months into the new year and we know you want to make a difference. Who doesn’t? How are you doing on your New Year’s resolutions.? Are you still working diligently toward your goals — or, like the majority of people who make resolutions, have you already lost steam?
How to Get Yourself in the Right Place to Make a Difference
In many cases, getting back on track with your goals is simply a matter of starting over again. You’re paying for that gym membership, after all, so put on your sneakers and get back to it. In other cases, though, your resolutions might be nonstarters simply because you didn’t get yourself adequately prepared and in the right place to be successful with them.
This may be especially true if you resolved something along the lines of “Give back to my community,” or “Make a difference in someone else’s life.” While certainly worthwhile goals, neither is terribly specific, which is rule number one of effective goal setting. There are plenty of small ways that you can make a difference for others, like paying it forward in the drive-thru line or donating valuable items to charity, but if you want to make a real, meaningful impact, you need to put yourself in the right place and determine the best use of your time and resources.
As you think about how you want to move forward in your quest to give back, ask yourself these important questions.
1. What Are Your Priorities?
With so many worthy causes in the world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and want to help everyone. And while it’s true that small things can add up to a big difference, if you want to make a real meaningful impact on others’ it’s best to take a more focused approach and not take a scattershot approach to sharing your time, talents, and money. Think about what causes are most meaningful to you, and drill down to determine where you want to focus.
For example, you might want do something to make a difference for low-income children in your community. Dig deeper to be more specific. Are you concerned about food insecurity? Education? Access to sports or the arts? When you find a specific cause that you are passionate about, it’s easier to identify the opportunities that are appealing — and to make a measurable impact.
2. What Are Your Strengths?
If you volunteer to do something that is outside of your wheelhouse, you could end up either getting frustrated, or just getting in the way of the people who do know what they are doing. So, as you think about how you want to make a difference, think about where your strengths lie, and how you can leverage them.
For example, if you are good at numbers and have a background in accounting, helping a nonprofit manage its books can be a big help, saving the organization money and the administrative team stress. Remember: You don’t have to make huge, amazing gestures in order to make a major difference.
3. What Are Your Goals?
One common reason that volunteers tend to burn out on their projects is that they haven’t set any goals for their efforts. It feels great to give back, and seeing the results of hard work can be satisfying, but it’s easy to lose interest when it feels like volunteering or donating is just something to check off the to-do list.
By setting a measurable goal for your efforts, though, you provide a greater purpose to them and have a guide for how to proceed. Perhaps you are working as a tutor for disadvantaged high schoolers. You might set a goal for all your students to pass their classes this semester, or graduate from high school. You might even realize that your volunteer work will lead to an even larger goal, such as becoming a teacher or community leader.
Making a difference in the lives of others isn’t always a difficult pursuit. It does, however, require commitment and a solid understanding of who you are and what you are able to give. We can’t all be Mother Theresa and spend all our waking hours administering to the sick and the poor, no matter how much we want to help. But you don’t have to be Mother Theresa to help — you just have to be committed and willing to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
1. What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
My main acceptance in life would be that “change” itself is a constant and regardless of opinion it is inevitable. Making peace with ones self and accepting the things we CANNOT change is key to living a full and happy life. Within those experiences we grow as people and learn.
2. What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I have learned to appreciate all of my imperfections as it makes me who I am as a person and in reality “perfection” is all up for interpretation. In return I have taught myself to replace the old methods in dealing with situations and problems with ones that will deliver or elicit positive responses and solutions.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? Tell us not only what makes YOU most proud but also share the goals and dreams that you still have.
I believe my core values or the personal rules I have set in place for myself and chose to live by have brought nothing but reward to my life as it has created my known presence to be one of value and those things remind me daily of my standards set if ever I were to steer off course.
4. We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity?
Over analyzing every situation would definitely be a not-so-perfect quirk about myself, leading my mind to wander with thoughts of what-if’s, that usually are just that, “what-if’s”. Along with spontaneity and positivity it creates my not-so-perfect, but awesome self!!
5. “I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
I love my positive outlook on life and the huge heart I carry with me daily filled with nothing but compassion for others and a willingness to always be learning something new.