Evaluating Goals: Setting up your 2024 for Success Pt 2
Part 2: Accomplishing Goals in Volunteering
Welcome back! Hopefully, you have read the first article and identified your goals for volunteering in 2024 that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-based (S.M.A.R.T). Setting goals is great, but it is only the first step. The second and perhaps the most daunting step is figuring out how to achieve them. It can be hard to know what steps to take or how to develop good habits around achieving goals. I don’t consider myself an expert, but I will gladly share what I have learned to help you along your journey.
If the S.M.A.R.T. acronym illuminates anything, it’s that goals take work. Life is busy for everyone, and adding in an extra thing, such as volunteering, can be challenging. When setting goals, be as thorough as possible. Think about what you want, investigate what it will take to accomplish them, and then map it out. Here are three things to remember when mapping out a plan for volunteering in 2024.
Have you tried to volunteer before? To move forward with success, it is essential to take some time and think about the past and previous goals. Reflect on the goals you had and identify three things.
- Boosts - What helped me accomplish the goals I achieved?
- Barriers - What kept me from the goals I didn’t achieve?
- Desires - What do I want moving forward?
These three questions will help you reflect on your progress from the year before and set or reframe new goals for the upcoming one. Identifying boosts, barriers, and desires can inform how you set and achieve your goals in volunteerism.
You might fall into two camps when it comes to goals and volunteering. The first camp needs to know where to start or what they want; the second needs to know the next steps. Researching will help you further define a plan and understand how to volunteer. An essential part of that preparation is people. There are three types of people you can watch out for on your journey.
- The Experts - Look for experts in the fields you are passionate about. How can you help? Where do the needs lie? There are many free resources online that can provide helpful tips and guidance. The latest news section on Volunteer Connector contains articles written by people with lots of volunteerism experience.
- The Encouragers - Find those around you who have volunteered, specifically in areas you are interested in. The key is trusted individuals who know you; you can allow them to speak into your life. Surround yourself with positive energy, and in turn, that energy can be funneled to achieving your goals.
- The Knockoffs and Nay-sayers - Beware the “social media gurus,” there are a lot of lies and half-truths out there; don’t fall for clout chasers. Most of the good done in the world happens off-camera. In the same vein, it might be time to cut out certain people from your life who only bring negative energy and attitude towards you and your goals.
We live in a world with much information at our fingertips, and sifting through it can be challenging. This is why Volunteer Connector exists: to ensure the opportunities you seek are only a click away. The more knowledge you gain, the more you can apply to your goals. Be encouraged that you aren’t alone; many people have been where you are and wanted the same things out of life.
If your goals are indeed S.M.A.R.T., it will be easier to map them out. Break down your goals into levels of importance and the amount of effort it will take, and write down steps you need to take to achieve them. Give yourself a boost by having some easy wins early to build on.
- Take Time - Schedule a day at the beginning of the year specifically dedicated to your goals and mapping them out, then create a series of check-ins throughout the year to gauge progress and reflect. Your check-ins can be a great place to evaluate if your volunteering goals were achievable and accurately time-based. When looking at volunteering, this is the most crucial step. Set yourself up for success by getting your research in early.
- Set reminders - Use one of the many apps on your phone or create physical reminders with sticky notes on the fridge. Reminders can make a huge difference early on before you develop the habits you’re looking for. If you are comfortable, engage your spouse or a trusted friend to keep you accountable.
- Celebrate - ‘Treat yourself’ might not be the best term, especially if it’s counterintuitive to a goal like losing weight or saving money. But I've said it a few times already: set smaller goals early to boost your confidence. As you continue through the year, find ways to celebrate big or small victories. When volunteering, consider stopping for your favorite frozen treat or pint of beer on your way home. This can be extremely helpful in habit building.
The more you invest in your goals, the more you will get out of them. The more time, effort, and planning you can put into how you want to volunteer, the more likely you will make it a regular part of your life. As an adult, I am far more organized than I was when I was young. Organization and strategic thinking were skills I had to develop, and now I have systems to keep my life and goals organized. There is hope for all of us.
To conclude this two-part article series, I wanted to share one of my favorite pieces of research— and you can do with it what you wish. Regardless of what they are, keeping your goals to yourself could be crucial to achieving them. New York University professor of psychology Peter M. Gollwitzer has extensively researched the self-regulation of goal pursuit. One thing that came out of his research is that when we share our goals with others and receive a positive reaction, we get the same positive reinforcement as if we accomplished them, and consequently, we are less likely to achieve those goals. Seek out encouragers in your life, but wait until you have set the goals and are in progress before sharing.
After reading this series, I hope you are motivated to take your first steps toward active volunteerism. So cheers to the new year and the new you!