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5 Reasons You Should Volunteer Abroad

5 Reasons You Should Volunteer Abroad

There are a lot of people who see volunteering as a chore; a charitable cause that takes up all of your free time with no reward (‘I’m too busy to volunteer’ you’ll regularly hear people say). The reality is, at some point in your life, you should volunteer and contribute back to society (think of all it’s done for you?), but it doesn’t have to be for charity, in fact, you can combine it with something you really want to do, like travelling.

Volunteering abroad can be a very valuable learning experience for you. Now, more and more people are signing up to websites like Help X, Workaway and WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) on their travels because of the enormous benefits that come with them.

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Recently, I did my first Workaway in Black Forest, Germany, and decided to write about how it enriched my life and how, if you choose to do it, can for you too.

1. Free Room & Board

This first reason is obvious: free room and board. If you’ve ever traveled before, you’ll know how much you can spend on food and accommodation. In fact, most of your money will go on this. Most (if not all) overseas volunteer programs will provide you with free roam and board in exchange for your volunteer work. I volunteered in a small country hotel and was fortunate enough to be provided with some of the nicest meals I’ve ever eaten. How else can you travel the world and not have to worry about keeping a roof over your head and where your next meal is going to come from?

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2. You Can Explore

If you volunteer in a rural area (most hosts are in the countryside), you’ll be able to explore some of the most beautiful countrysides and wildlife you’ve ever seen. You’ll be able to explore a side of a country you wouldn’t usually see if you visited a city (which most tourists do) and if you do it over the summer (when most help is needed), you’ll be able to enjoy it a lot more in the sunshine. I was lucky enough to see some of the most beautiful lakes, waterfalls and mountains I’ve ever seen; the sights were some I’ll certainly never forget.

3. The People

My hosts were the nicest couple I’ve ever met. They were so hospitable and generous – I was treated more like a guest than I was a worker. My co-Workawayers were also a real pleasure to meet. It’s like a family: you eat together, you sleep in the same dorm room and you work together. You become really close because of it and you bond over the experience. You’re often all there with a similar goal: to contribute back.

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4. Learn New Skills

If you’ve never worked on a farm and/or a hotel before you’ll be able to learn and hone a whole new skill set and often to your own amazement, skills you never thought you’d be good at (or even considered before). I ended up helping a local Sheppard shear over 600 sheep–a day that only happens once a year. What an experience that was and something I’m proud I was a part of. You can also learn a lot from your roommates. One of my roommates taught me a little Russian and another taught me how to solve the Rubik’s Cube.

5. The Experience

My time in Black Forest is one I’ll never forget. When you volunteer abroad you people that inspire and motivate you, you eat well and most importantly, with your free time, you reflect on who you are and what’s important to you. It’s an experience that a lot of people won’t be willing to do (because they’re too busy), but once you do it, you develop ‘the bug’ for it and want to do it again.

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Last Updated on July 23, 2019

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

5 Steps To Move Out Of Stagnancy In Life

In the journey of growth, there are times when we grow and excel. We are endlessly driven and hyped up, motivated to get our goals.

Then there are times when we stagnate. We feel uninspired and unmotivated. We keep procrastinating on our plans. More often than not, we get out of a rut, only to get back into another one.

How do you know if you are stagnating? Here are some tell-tale signs:

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  • If you have been experiencing chronic procrastination on your goals
  • If you don’t ever feel like doing anything
  • If you keep turning to sleep, eating, games, mindless activities and entertainment for comfort
  • If you know you should be doing something, but yet you keep avoiding it
  • If you have not achieved anything new or significant now relative to 1 month, 2 months or 3 months ago
  • If you have a deep sense of feeling that you are living under your potential

When we face stagnation in life, it’s a sign of deeper issues. Stagnation, just like procrastination, is a symptom of a problem. It’s easy to beat ourselves over it, but this approach is not going to help. Here, I will share 5 steps to help you move out of this stagnation. They won’t magically transform your life in 1 night (such changes are never permanent because the foundations are not built), but they will help you get the momentum going and help you get back on track.

1. Realize You’re Not Alone

Everyone stagnates at some point or another. You are not alone in this and more importantly, it’s normal. In fact, it’s amazing how many of my clients actually face the same predicament, even though all of them come from different walks of life, are of different ages, and have never crossed paths. Realizing you are not alone in this will make it much easier to deal with this period. By trying to “fight it”, you’re only fighting yourself. Accept this situation, acknowledge it, and tell yourself it’s okay. That way, you can then focus on the constructive steps that will really help you.

2. Find What Inspires You

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Stagnation comes because there isn’t anything that excites you enough to take action. If you don’t have a habit of setting goals, and instead just leave yourself to daily mundanes, it’s not surprising you are experiencing stagnation. What do you want to do if there are no limitations? If you can have whatever you want, what will it be? The answers to these questions will provide the fuel that will drive you forward.

On the other hand, even if you are an experienced goal setter, there are times when the goals you set in the past lose their appeal now. It’s normal and it happens to me too. Sometimes we lose touch with our goals, since we are in a different emotional state compared to when we first set them. Sometimes our priorities change and we no longer want to work on those goals anymore. However, we don’t consciously realize this, and what happens is we procrastinate on our goals until it compounds into a serious problem. If that’s the case for you, it’s time to relook into your goals. There’s no point in pursuing goals that no longer inspire you. Trash away your old goals (or just put them aside) and ask yourself what you really want now. Then go for them.

3. Give Yourself a Break

When’s the last time you took a real break for yourself? 3 months? 6 months? 1 year? Never? Perhaps it’s time to take a time-out. Prolonged working can cause someone to become disillusioned as they lose sight of who they are and what they want.

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Go take some extended leave from work. A few days at bare minimum; a few weeks or months will be great. Some of my ex-colleagues have quit their jobs and took months out to do some self-reflection. Of course, some of us might not have that luxury, so we can stick to a few weeks of leave. Go on a trip elsewhere and get away from your work and your life. Use this chance to get a renewed perspective of life. Think about your life purpose, what you want and what you want to create for your life in the future. These are big questions that require deep thinking over them. It’s not about finding the answers at one go, but about taking the first step to finding the answers.

4. Shake up Your Routines

Being in the same environment, doing the same things over and over again and meeting the same people can make us stagnant. This is especially if the people you spend the most time with are stagnant themselves.

Change things around. Start with simple things, like taking a different route to work and eating something different for breakfast. Have your lunch with different colleagues, colleagues you never talked much with. Work in a different cubicle if your work has free and easy seating. Do something different than your usual for weekday evenings and weekends. Cultivate different habits, like exercising every day, listening to a new series of podcasts every morning to work, reading a book, etc (here’s 6 Proven Ways To Make New Habits Stick). The different contexts will give you different stimulus, which will trigger off different thoughts and actions in you.

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When I’m in a state of stagnancy, I’ll get a sense of what’s making me stagnate. Sometimes it’s the environment I’m in, sometimes it’s the people I’ve been hanging out with, sometimes it’s my lifestyle. Most of the times it’s a combination of all these. Changing them up helps to stir myself out of the stagnant mode.

5. Start with a Small Step

Stagnation also comes from being frozen in fear. Maybe you do want this certain goal, but you aren’t taking action. Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work needed? Are you afraid you will make mistakes? Is the perfectionist in you taking over and paralyzing you?

Let go of the belief that it has to be perfect. Such a belief is a bane, not a boon. It’s precisely from being open to mistakes and errors that you move forward. Break down what’s before you into very very small steps, then take those small steps, a little step at a time. I had a client who had been stagnating for a long period because he was afraid of failing. He didn’t want to make another move where he would make a mistake. However, not wanting to make a mistake has led him to do absolutely nothing for 2-3 years. On the other hand, by doing just something, you would already be making progress, whether it’s a mistake or not. Even if you make a supposed “mistake”,  you get feedback to do things differently in the next step. That’s something you would never have known if you never made a move.

More to Help You Stay Motivated

Here are some resources that will help you break out of your current phase:

Featured photo credit: Anubhav Saxena via unsplash.com

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