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8 Ways Volunteering Benefits You

8 Ways Volunteering Benefits You

Whether it’s court-ordered community service, required for a class, because you feel it is your duty, or for any other reason, volunteering is an enriching experience. We know that volunteering is a chance to serve others and give back to the community, but we might not see how it affects us and our lives. I would like to propose that volunteering can be more than just dutiful work, but is in fact richly beneficial for you. Here’s how.

 1. You will learn about yourself

Investing time in serving the community will stretch you. You will experience challenging personalities and face hard problems. Volunteering is a great way to learn more about yourself in a setting that is new to you. You might learn what you like and dislike about a certain population. You may learn about how your strengths enhance a group or about areas you need to improve. We learn about ourselves constantly in every experience. Volunteering is a great way to gain insight into who you are.

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2. You will learn new skills

The great news about volunteering is that, since they aren’t paying you, most places will take just about anyone! By donating some of your time, you are able to learn and practice new skills that may otherwise take money and extra effort to learn. It may be something concrete like gardening or making coffee. It will almost always include skills that are less obvious, such as communication skills or fundraising. Volunteering is a great opporunity to perfect the skills you have and learn something new.

3. You will build your resume

A perk of volunteering is adding another valuable line to your resume. Employers like to see community involvement. Having community service on your resume says a lot about who you are. Employers like to see people who are dedicated to their community and passionate for a cause. Your resume will be extra juicy with those volunteer hours attached.

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4. You will make friends with different types of people

When you decide to volunteer for something you are passionate about, chances are the people surrounding you will share those same sentiments. Shared interests bring people together. As fellow volunteers working towards a common goal, you will start to build a unique relationship that might not be found anywhere else. Differences between people fade when hearts are exposed. These are the types of friendships that can last a lifetime.

5. You will make valuable connections

It’s not about what you know, but who you know. Connections are formed when you are involved in an agency. A great way to get your foot in the door for a job you are hoping to have one day is to volunteer in the field. You might be surprised to find that many opportunities can come from the people you meet through volunteer work. In addition, you can build professional relationships with people who could potentially recommend you for a job in the future. Volunteering offers a chance to network with the people you need to know.

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6. You will be a part of the community

Serving the community offers a sense of attachment and belonging. When we volunteer for a cause we are passionate about, when we invest our hearts in our community, they become our treasures. You are enhancing the place you call home, and you will never feel more at home than when you are putting your efforts towards making it better.

7. You will feel empowered

As adults, we have so much on our plates. There is work, family, relationships, chores, and the demands never seem to end. If you have the time, volunteering can be a great way to do something for yourself that gives you a sense of control. At most places, it is up to you how many hours you serve. You can decide to get more involved or take a step back. In addition, you will be making a difference for something that you care about. It is empowering to know that you are needed somewhere to do something important.

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 8. You will live a more passionate life

We don’t all have the dream job. We don’t all get to do what we are passionate about every day, but I do know we are all passionate about something. Volunteering is a chance to acknowledge that passion within you. When you learn new skills, you enhance yourself. When you invest in the community, you build your sense of home. When you take the time to do something you care about, it will change you. Volunteering is a chance not only to give back to others, but to give back to yourself.

Choose to volunteer for something you are interested in. There are so many ways to get involved. You can volunteer using skills like knitting, gardening, or painting. You can get involved in a cause that you are passionate about, such as fighting diseases, supporting political campaigns, or promoting international justice. Research the opportunities in your community or beyond the borders. If you have the time, it’s worth it! The life-giving power of volunteering shows us that service is just as much for us as it is for others.

Featured photo credit: DiNo via flickr.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

How to Flow Your Way to a More Productive Life

Ebb and flow. Contraction and expansion. Highs and lows. It’s all about the cycles of life.

The entire course of our life follows this up and down pattern of more and then less. Our days flow this way, each following a pattern of more energy, then less energy, more creativity and periods of greater focus bookended by moments of low energy when we cringe at the thought of one more meeting, one more call, one more sentence.

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The key is in understanding how to use the cycles of ebb and flow to our advantage. The ability to harness these fluctuations, understand how they affect our productivity and mood and then apply that knowledge as a tool to improve our lives is a valuable strategy that few individuals or corporations have mastered.

Here are a few simple steps to start using this strategy today:

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Review Your Past Flow

Take just a few minutes to look back at how your days and weeks have been unfolding. What time of the day are you the most focused? Do you prefer to be more social at certain times of the day? Do you have difficulty concentrating after lunch or are you energized? Are there days when you can’t seem to sit still at your desk and others when you could work on the same project for hours?

Do you see a pattern starting to emerge? Eventually you will discover a sort of map or schedule that charts your individual productivity levels during a given day or week.  That’s the first step. You’ll use this information to plan your days going forward.

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Schedule According to Your Flow Pattern

Look at the types of things you do each day…each week. What can you move around so that it’s a better fit for you? Can you suggest to your team that you schedule meetings for late morning if you can’t stand to be social first thing? Can you schedule detailed project work or highly creative tasks, like writing or designing when you are best able to focus? How about making sales calls or client meetings on days when you are the most social and leaving billing or reports until another time when you are able to close your door and do repetitive tasks.

Keep in mind that everyone is different and some things are out of our control. Do what you can. You might be surprised at just how flexible clients and managers can be when they understand that improving your productivity will result in better outcomes for them.

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Account for Big Picture Fluctuations

Look at the bigger picture. Consider what happens during different months or times during the year. Think about what is going on in the other parts of your life. When is the best time for you to take on a new project, role or responsibility? Take into account other commitments that zap your energy. Do you have a sick parent, a spouse who travels all the time or young children who demand all of your available time and energy?

We all know people who ignore all of this advice and yet seem to prosper and achieve wonderful success anyway, but they are usually the exception, not the rule. For most of us, this habitual tendency to force our bodies and our brains into patterns of working that undermine our productivity result in achieving less than desired results and adding more stress to our already overburdened lives.

Why not follow the ebb and flow of your life instead of fighting against it?

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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