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Do you want to support an association or a group that shares your values, participate in social or environmental actions, and experience that sense of accomplishment that so many volunteers rave about? At the same time, are you realizing that you have no idea where to start and you are afraid of not being able to stick to your commitments? 

You are not alone. Various surveys conducted in several countries have revealed that the majority of people who have never volunteered admit that they don't dare to take the plunge due to their busy schedules, the lack of flexibility of volunteer opportunities, and the vagueness of the actions. Above all, they don't know where to start. But don’t let yourself be so easily discouraged! 

Act Locally 

The first piece of advice for any aspiring volunteer is to take action in your close circle. Saving polar bears is certainly a noble cause, but a good first step would be educating your local residents about the importance of protecting waterways, coastlines and public spaces. There are likely to be people, animals or gardens near you that need your help, you just need to identify them and find organizations that welcome your support. 

A defeatist mentality will tell you that your impact is minimal, as you alone cannot change a situation that is so much bigger than you are. But remember the story of the wise child who returned a beached starfish to the water. A witness questioned his intentions since he obviously could never save all the starfish, but the child calmly replied that what he did "counts for the starfish that was returned to the water". 

Never underestimate your impact, no matter how small! Even if you reach a small portion of society, you will set an example and inspire others to do the same, creating a snowball effect. 

You Don't Always Have to Lead 

Again, being a leader, initiating change by yourself, hogging the limelight, and catalyzing efforts is a very noble mission. But even leaders will see their motivation wane in the face of adversity and the challenges in quickly achieving measurable results. 

Instead of starting new movements or creating ambitious associations, find nearby organizations that are already operational, active in your community, and share your values. 

Don't doubt for a moment that they need your dedication, your motivation and your skills. Plus, you'll save yourself a lot of hassle and be able to focus on what's important – helping those in need. 

Seize the First Opportunity and Move On 

The motto here is to act without too much procrastination. If your first experience is somewhat disappointing, follow it up with a second, and then a third... In time, you'll find your rhythm and discover the causes you're really passionate about. 

Overthinking and embarking on endless research will significantly reduce your motivation. During times of inactivity, find things you can do. Even if gardening is not high on your list of concerns, for example, the neighborhood green space, the animals that live there and the children that play in it can benefit from your experience, your time and your fresh perspective. 

Take the plunge and stop overthinking! And above all, enjoy making the lives of others more enjoyable. 

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