Good old Ben Franklin was on to something when he made that statement. The start of a new year is the perfect time for change — to start over with a clean, brand spankin’ new slate. Out with the old, in with the new!
For the most part, New Year’s resolutions around the globe look the same: to be healthier, to lose weight, to exercise more, to get rid of bad habits, to develop good ones, to learn more, to earn more, to do more, to make something of ourselves, to make a difference, and the list goes on. The be all and end all of all NY resolutions? To become a better person.
It’s no wonder that volunteering is one of the most common items on many peoples’ long list of resolutions (along, of course, with getting into shape). Everyone wants to make a positive impact in the lives of others.
Sure, volunteering is a big and wonderful step toward a better you. But did you know that more than simply an item on your list, volunteering can help you achieve other goals? By pairing volunteer work with another goal, you can maximize your time and experience and end up with a more fun and feasible list to work through this year. Plus, knowing that you will be working toward a good cause is a powerful motivating force that can help make your resolutions stick throughout the year and beyond.
Resolution #1: TO NEVER WORK ANOTHER DAY (also: To be more successful / To learn new things)
Do something you love and you’ll never have to work again! Volunteering is a great way to explore different career paths. Do you have a way with words? Do your hips sway ever so gracefully to the sound of music? Do you enjoy molding young minds? Do you enjoy shooting the breeze with the elderly? Do your hands magically whip up masterpieces on canvas? Are your website creations referred to as Wonders of the World Wide Web? Do your chocolate chip cookies make mouths water? Volunteer in various capacities and take on volunteer work that may be totally unrelated to your career or volunteer in roles that showcase your professional skills and expertise to a tee — both are viable options that may help you discover your life’s true passion.
Volunteering also allows you to gain experience in whatever field you’re interested in pursuing — whether it be IT, office administration, event planning, accounting, education, healthcare, etc. It’s a great way to learn new skills or polish existing ones, which you can take with you into your dream career or apply to your current role to enhance possibilities of career advancement. If you want to be successful, make more money and become a true-blue professional, you need to get very good at what you do(or want to do) through plenty of practice — practice you can get as a volunteer!
In the end, whatever role you have or skill you learn as a volunteer is invaluable. Jotting down your volunteer experience on your CV is a surefire way to impress your potential new employers and boost your career prospects!
Resolution #2: TO LOSE WEIGHT / TO EXERCISE MORE
Non-profit organizations could always use a hand with something – particularly physical tasks. You can do so many things from packing and lifting boxes of supplies or donations, wheeling clients around, painting facilities, building homes, building a community garden, clearing trails/pathways of litter, and the list goes on and on. These tasks may not sound as glamorous as hitting a world-class gym, but, hey, it’s 100%FREE, it gets your heart pumping and it’s beneficial to the community.
If you are a sports buff, there are different ways you can volunteer in the sports arena. You can coach a youth sports team and share your expertise. You can help organize various sporting events throughout the year such as walks, bike races, fun runs, and marathons. Yearly events like CIBC Run for the Cure, Winners Walk of Hope for Ovarian Cancer, Terry Fox Run, Calgary Corporate Challenge, and many others raise much-needed funds and/or awareness for various important causes. Try approaching sports-oriented organizations like YMCA, Winsport Canada, Special Olympics Calgary to see how you may be able to help out.
Resolution # 3: TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS / MEET NEW PEOPLE (and possibly: To improve love life)
Volunteering brings like-minded people together working toward a particular cause. If you want to expand your social circle, find a volunteer position in an area that you’re interested in – Sustainability? Theatre? Photography? Human rights? Cats? Lend a hand at special events, fundraising galas, and festivals hosted by non-profit groups throughout the city.
Volunteering is a perfectly good excuse to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people – many of whom could be potential new friends.
And for single folks out there, engaging in volunteer work makes a refreshing change from clubs, bars, or websites in the hope of meeting Mr. or Ms. Right. Doesn’t working together for a cause that you have a shared passion sound like a pretty romantic setting?
Think about it, what can be a nicer thing to have in common with friends and/or significant other than your love for volunteering?
Resolution #4: TO BE HAPPIER
Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and makes you feel like you are making a positive difference in the world (and when you volunteer, you most absolutely are). Helping others, whether in small or big ways, uplifts a person’s spirit like nothing else. Hence, more and more people nowadays are chasing the “Helper’s High”, which is that warm and fuzzy feeling you get doing good deeds. Try being kind and compassionate to other people – friends and strangers alike – and instantly feel happier!
Volunteering also makes you feel more connected to other people in the community, which can alleviate most feelings of isolation and loneliness. Plus, interacting with those people who may be less fortunate gives you a different perspective and something else to focus on other than your the woes and worries weighing you down. Give volunteering a chance and it may surprise you with a newfound appreciation for life.
Experiencing new things, learning new skills, meeting new people and helping those in need can help you gain confidence and do wonders for your self-esteem and your mood.There is no single formula to happiness, but if you start doing things you love, pursuing your passion, and practicing kindness, you are on the right track!
“We rise by lifting others.” – Robert Green Ingersoll.
These are just some ways you can use volunteering to get started on your quest toward a healthier, happier and more fulfilling life. Hopefully this inspires you to incorporate volunteering into your goals. Discover different ways you can volunteer by checking out hundreds of volunteer opportunities right here in Calgary on www.volunteercalgary.ab.ca.
So go forth, volunteer, have a blast, and be on your way to becoming a newly improved version of you! Happy New Year to all!