By Kate Atwood

With the arrival of November comes two of the most popular months for charity and volunteering. More than 70 percent of us gave back during the holidays last year. It’s my aspiration to see more of us giving back in 2010, even just for one day. For those of you who are already charitable during the holidays, these tips will get you energized for the months ahead.  For those who are just getting started, it will help you in taking that first step.

Reflect upon your own life. I often suggest this as a step first. You are going to find a deeper commitment to a cause that you can connect to personally. Start thinking of life experiences that either created a challenge for you, for someone you loved, or for something you witnessed. Whether its homelessness or cancer, all of us have interacted with some type of adversity. The altruistic connection will help you remain committed and feed your passion to do more.

Assess your time availability. We all live busy lives, but with thought and planning it is really easy to carve out a time for your giving life. Volunteer projects today come in all shapes and timelines. Whether giving up a few hours each week, an entire spring break, or going online every season to participate, you can find an initiative that fits your schedule best. Just like we make time for fitness, we need to make time for volunteering. Think of it as your soul on a treadmill.

Consider skills and interests that you would enjoy using while giving back. You can choose to do something that uses your professional skill sets, such as law, accounting, marketing and PR, or you can choose a personal interest such as animals, the environment, even sports to help youth.

Bring a friend or family member along. Like most things in our lives, the first time doing anything can often be the hardest. Think about it. First time going to the gym, first day at work, first date.  Make your first step easier by finding someone who can participate in the activity along with you. This is also where you can look to invite your family, even kids to join.

To find out more about Living by Giving and read stories of others who are changing their own lives by giving back, visit www.kateatwood.com

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.