New Year's resolutions revisited

Alright. So it's February and the newness of the year has definitely started to wear off. What better time to check in on how closely you're sticking to all of those great resolutions you proclaimed just a few short months ago?

My New Year's resolutions typically go something like this:

December 31, 2012 - This is the year I'm going to stick to my resolution. I'll keep a daily journal so I can look back at it one day with my grandkids and prove that at one point, their grandma was one cool cat!

January 1, 2013 - Dear Journal, what a day! I'm so excited to keep a record of 2013. See you tomorrow!

January 2, 2013 - ... nothing.

But the idea of a setting a goal and accomplishing it is something that everyone should do. Whether it's New Year's Day, your birthday, or a random Wednesday and you wake up feeling especially inspired, each day brings a new opportunity to reflect and recommit. For some, resolutions include things like running a half-marathon or losing 15 pounds. But for you, 2013 is the year for something bigger. It's the year where your resolutions could change your life! This is the year you've chosen to become an international volunteer.

The excellent thing about this particular resolution is that it can vary from person to person. For some, perhaps this means putting down that initial deposit to go on a program. This allows people to be financially committed, while still having plenty of time to fundraise and mentally prepare for their trip. For others, this may mean signing up for the trip and actually arriving in his or her destination of choice in just a matter of months, or weeks! I personally prefer giving myself smaller milestones that I can check off throughout the year before I finally complete the larger, overarching resolution. So here's my plan to help you keep that new Year's Resolution and become an international volunteer by December, 2013.

  1. January - Check out our website and do your research. Volunteering abroad is a big decision, so make sure you know what you're getting into before you sign up. Since you're reading this post, you must have already started your homework. Way to go!
  2. February - Pick your destination. Whether it's India, Peru, or one of our other epic volunteer destinations, make sure that you're passionate about your selection by continuing with your research and asking plenty of questions.
  3. March - Start fundraising. It's never too early to get started on this process. Simply make a list of family and friends that you can reach out to, or start to brainstorm different things that you could do for potential fundraising events.
  4. April - Learn the language basics. Whether it's Swahili, Spanish, or isiXhosa, now is the time to make sure to pick up a few resources and crack open the ones passed along by your CCS Program Site Specialist, too! Dedicate 30 minutes each week and it will make your program even more enjoyable and productive.
  5. May - Self educate. Pick up one book and one film that have to do with your destination and dive in. The more educated you are about the country that you're volunteering in, the more you will get from the experience. This should be fun, so find something that speaks to you!
  6. June - Make a list. Check out Lonely Planet's website and let the dreaming begin. Machu Picchu, Table Mountain, the Golden Temple. There's a lot to see out there, and it's a good idea to figure out what's on your list before you're on your way.
  7. July - Keep fundraising! It's been months since you originally thought about doing this. Have you started yet? If not, the time is now.
  8. August - Book that flight. By now, you should have a good sense of what a reasonable airfare to your destination of choice should cost, so set your flight alerts and get something booked. This is a big check on your list, so buy yourself a candy bar to celebrate.
  9. September - Get things in order. Have you gotten vaccinations yet? Visas? Did you fill out your Volunteer Profile? Make sure all of your ducks are in a row, as they say.
  10. October - Pay the balance of your program fee. You did it! If you fundraised, be sure to write thank you notes to your sponsors, and let the countdown begin!
  11. November - What to pack? Your volunteer experience is less than a month away. Make sure you have that adapter you'll need and the perfect water bottle that will show a bit of your personality since you will be carrying it with you everywhere you go.
  12. December - Get on that plane! The time has finally come and all of that hard work has paid off and you've reached your goal!

Thanks to these totally doable milestones, and your awesome attitude and dedication, you're now ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime, and more importantly, you are about to become an official international volunteer. Congrats!


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