I’ve got a fabulously fulfilling and amazing way to kick off your list of firsts or add to it!! Yes, you’ve guessed it–through volunteering 😃🤩. Was is the title that gave it away?
Volunteering is one of the most rewarding thing you can spend some of your time doing to reap some incredible benefits to impact your growth, development, wellbeing, and the community and world around you.
Reasons to Add Volunteering to Your List of Firsts
- Make a Difference
- Connect to your Community
- Battle Stress (Increase your lifespan)
- Learn new Skills
- Explore New Work Options
- Use your Talents
- Gain Confidence
Make a Difference
One of the best things about being a volunteer is knowing you’re making a difference. Volunteering has a positive effect on you, the people around you, the community, and ultimately society. Your work, efforts, and contributions in assisting people, animals, a good cause or organization in need will have an impact in one way or another, and whether you see it or not. The opportunity to volunteer exists because a need has been identified. You get the chance to fill a void, step into a gap, and complete a missing piece.
Human beings have the capacity for greatness but it takes overcoming our tendencies toward being self-absorbed and selfish. Be a wonderful example for your friends and family (especially to your own kids) to follow and multiply your impact by engaging others to also volunteer and get in on the game of scoring good deeds.
Connect to your Community
Almost all volunteering opportunities center on getting involved in your community to make it a better place, so it’s an excellent way to find out what’s going on, educate yourself on the issues, problems, and resources in your community, and meet people who are engaged in making a difference. You can choose volunteering opportunities completely outside your normal circles of friends, coworkers, and family members. It can be an ideal way to meet new people with the same passions, interests, and priorities as you grow your network and circle of influence.
This can help you see the bigger picture, how the place (city/town/neighborhood) you call home functions—the reality outside your comfort zones, and how you belong, can serve, and shape your environment in a positive way.
Battle Stress (Increase Life Expectancy)
Volunteering can counteract the stress, frustration, mundanity, and anxiety of everyday life because it provides a purpose, a sense of belonging, and the awareness of making a difference—three key factors for our wellbeing and mental health (imperative factors to fight depression).
The simple act of volunteering can make us calmer, more relaxed, and more at peace with our lives—especially volunteering with fury friends and outdoors. Doing something different, something rewarding, something exciting, and learning in the process—all of these aspects of volunteering have a positive impact on a person and their wellbeing.
A Health Study on Volunteering discovered that volunteering does more than boost your morale, it can also increase your life span. Volunteering benefits your physical health and improves longevity—it may also lower your risk for Alzheimer’s and dementia later in life.
Learn New Skills
While you might be inclined to volunteer in things you already know how to do—nothing says you can’t volunteer your time in something new and gain a usable skill or new worthwhile knowledge. Some volunteer opportunities actually offer advanced training. You can tailor your volunteer experience—nothing wrong with you getting the most out of it.
Use Your Talents
What talents do you have that you don’t get to leverage at work? How about using those talents as a volunteer? As mentioned above, you can tailor your volunteer experience, align your contribution with what inspires, motivates, and drives you. Bring what you have to offer the world, to what you give to the world.
Explore New Work Options
Volunteering can afford you the opportunity to “try on” a new career. You can volunteer at something you are interested in before diving into the job market in that field. Some fields offer direct volunteering in organizations you may be interested in. Examples might include law offices, hospitals, and nursing homes in your local community,
As you open yourself to meet new people, build relationships, learn new things, use your talents, and increase your sense of purpose, accomplishment, and contribution to the community—you’ll be well on your way to developing more self-awareness and confidence.
How to Get Started with Volunteering
Finding the right fit when looking into volunteering is a bit like job hunting. You have to ask yourself a few questions to know where to look:
What do you enjoy?
You want a volunteering position you’ll enjoy. It’s not a full time job—but it will be something you commit a few hours to a week. Also, there are NO BENEFITS to adding something (more) to your life you don’t enjoy. Do you want to work with kids, elderly, animals or none of the above? Do you want to be indoor or outdoor? What causes are important to you? In what way(s) do you want to make a difference? How much time do you want to commit to it?
What are you good at?
In order to really excel at your volunteer post it must be something you either can easily gain skill at or come into with skills in place. Are you a good artist? Maybe you could paint a mural on a city building. Love animals? A position at the local animal shelter or humane society might be right up your alley. Love kids? Many communities have play places and children’s museum that are always seeking volunteers.
What would you like to learn more about?
Many volunteer opportunities are also learning opportunities. They allow you the chance to gain new skills in a field you may not know a lot about. Wish you had learned more about STEM fields when you were younger. Maybe volunteer at a local summer camp or community center that teaches classes. Really interesting in the arts or the history of your local community? Many towns have local arts and history museums and always have a hard time finding volunteers.
Check out the #VolunteeringFirsts Master List to get some ideas of possibilities.
Volunteer opportunities are everywhere, especially in non-profits.
Check out your local community (city and county) government offices, local community health and outreach programs. This includes museums, community theatres, libraries, senior centers, animal care facilities, youth organizations, and churches.
Obviously, there are also many resources online so a quick “Volunteering in _________” will open up your world of possibilities.
DON’T OVER DO IT.
You lose the benefits (especially the health benefits) of volunteering if you overdo it. The sweet spot is about 3 hours a week/100 hours a year.
If you stretch yourself too thin between your life, your job, family, and volunteering you can create anxiety instead of relieving it. You want to make sure volunteering is a rewarding experience, once it becomes an obligation, you will lose your will or want to do it.
Additionally, volunteering can start to become boring. Like a job, you can start doing the same things over and over again, so the excitement and interest start to slip away. Don’t give up if/when that happens. You have options. Speak to the volunteer coordinator and tell them you would like to try new things or begin new objectives.
If this doesn’t work there’s also the option to move to a new volunteer opportunity. Maybe it is just time for a change. Time to help someone or somewhere else. Nothing wrong with that. Just don’t give up on volunteering itself.
Add #volunteeringfirsts to your lists!! Way too many awesome benefits and opportunities not to. While making your community (and lets face it – the world a better place 🤗) you get to know yourself better, learn new things, meet people, use your talents, develop more confidence, zap some stress, and set a kick ass example.