I have been a volunteer my entire life. At church, school, in the community, you name it; I've tutored, walked, handed out food, created newsletters, and so on. Why: Because I love the feeling that I get from volunteering. It is such a selfless act and regardless of what I give as a volunteer, I always get so much more back from the experience.
Today, many people find themselves standing at a crossroads in life. Some people feel stuck in a rut, others are preparing to make a move, and still others just feel that "something isn't right." No matter which group best fits you, volunteering can be the key to get you moving in the right direction. While there are many benefits to becoming a volunteer, below are 5 key reasons that you should incorporate some type of volunteer activity in your life:
1. Volunteering instantly expands your network. People come from all walks of life to volunteer for causes they believe in. If you are looking for a new job or starting a business you might be surprised at the contacts you could make working at a soup kitchen or cleaning up a playground. Contacts created and maintained this way can be a lot stronger (and more "real") than anything you'll find at a networking event.
2. Volunteering gives you a chance to learn or develop a new skill in a "safe" environment. Looking to create web development skills? Offer to do a web site for an organization that doesn't have one. Want to start your own business as a publicist? Volunteer to help a local charity publicize their next big event. More than likely an organization already has someone on staff responsible for the activity you want to do, but that person is probably overworked and could use the help.
3. Volunteering takes the focus off of you. Most of us are too involved in our own lives. We are depressed, anxious, and worried about every little thing that happens. Our lives are filled with problems we don't have answers for and relationships badly in need of repair. By volunteering, you shift the focus off of your life and on to somebody else's life.
How insignificant do your problems at work seem in comparison to the challenges of a homeless family? How important is being able to afford a new car versus teaching a child to read? By volunteering, you quickly realize many people have problems a lot bigger than yours.
4. Volunteering looks good on your resume. Yes, this is a selfish thing, but it is the truth. Corporations work hard to be good neighbors and get positive recognition in the community. They depend on their employees to be the ambassadors for the company and get involved in the initiatives that the company financially supports. Volunteering provides you with skills to put on your resume, leadership experiences to talk about in an interview, and references who can speak to your work ethic.
5. Volunteering helps make the world a better place. Okay, this might sound cheesy, but it too is the truth. So much is accomplished in this country as a result of the generosity of volunteers. Organizations such at the Red Cross, local churches, Girl/Boy Scouts, neighborhood watch groups, women's shelters etc. are able to provide services because of the people that volunteer.
Imagine what this world would be like if people had nowhere to go when they lost their jobs or their homes. What would happen to our children if there weren't any big brother/ big sister/ mentoring type of programs or no after school activities?
So the next time you find your life stuck on pause, consider becoming a volunteer. The few hours a week you invest in another person's life will be returned to you a hundred times over.
(c) Copyright 2003 All Rights Reserved. Myrtis Smith, the founder of Premeditated Life is a personal and career coach. Download her FREE eBook "Your Personal Success Guide" at [www.premeditatedlife.com parked domain].