It’s that time of year again – the time for reflection and summation.
I started this blog from a spark of inspiration that was inadvertently flung my way during a psychology class, and 6 months later I am just starting to get settled into the blogging life.
Over the past few months I have had the chance to question a dozen people who are doing something (be it big or small) to make this world a better place. A number of themes emerged when I asked each person what advice they’d give to those of us who are kicking off our own social projects.
Here is the top advice from 2011, according to those inspirational everyday heroes who are already out there making a difference:
1. Do what you love
Carlo Diy is the founder of HaitiHub, providing language learning opportunities to aid workers on their way to Haiti. He stresses the importance of doing what you really love. The idea for HaitiHub came to him as a result of his own frustrations trying to learn Creole during his 18 months as a volunteer in Haiti and his difficulty in maintaining proficiency after his return to the USA. If you do something you feel really passionate about, it won’t be as hard to commit all the time and energy that will be required to get traction.
2. Keep it simple
In 2003 Ben Schumaker met a grown orphan who lamented a childhood without tangible memories. Inspired, he started the Memory Project to get art students in the USA to paint personal portraits for orphans in the developing world. Ben stresses the importance of choosing something manageable, something specific that you can do really well. If you’re anything like me it’s easy to think of a hundred things you could do… but this gets pretty overwhelming and it’s hard to know where to start. Instead just choose one thing you know you can do, and then actually do it.
3. Ask for help
High School students Liz & Lou have stated a city-wide campaign in Vancouver, Canada to encourage people to use reusable coffee mugs. The two young woman have utilised mentors and believe that support is the key to success. Nobody ever did anything truly great all by themselves. Think of the great men and women in history – Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Steve Jobs – they all had teams (huge teams) of people who worked in the background, provided support, advice, manpower. To achieve great things we must work together. Ask for help if you need it. And if someone asks you for help and you are able to, lend a hand. Together we can be great.
4. Be flexible
Shimon Schocken organises weekly bike rides around Israel with detained youth offenders. His journey with the young men has been organic and taken on a life of its own. Whatever your project is, it will be important to know the direction you want it to go in yet still be open to new possibilities and willing to find novel ways to overcome set-backs. Be flexible. Be nimble. And hold on tight, the ride could get wild!
5. Keep at it
There will be set-backs. Life is never a smooth journey. Matthew and Waveney encountered many challenges during their ‘Rubbish Free Year’ and stress the importance of staying positive, getting creative in the face of set-backs, and simply persevering! Nothing important is ever easy – keep at it, believe in yourself, and continue reading this blog to maintain inspiration :-)
Happy New Year to you all – may 2012 be the year that your project kicks into top gear and really makes a positive contribution in your community and your own life! I look forward to hearing all about.