It's a Universal law that what you put out is what you get back. My father was always fond of telling us "what goes around, comes around." It took me awhile to figure out the whole concept of the circle and how everything really does come around back to the beginning sooner or later. And that you really do get out of life what you put into it.
Some people think that giving only happens during a holiday season, but giving to others and putting yourself out there is a year-round thing. You shouldn't just give during the holiday season, and you shouldn't just give in order to get something back. It's a given that you will get something sooner or later ... what and when is entirely up to you. How you give is just as important as what you give.
One of the best ways to give is through volunteering. Giving of your time and expertise is a win-win situation, both for those you are helping, and also for yourself. There are so many ways you can give of your time. You can:
- coach a kid's sports team
- visit shut-ins in seniors' homes and hospitals
- volunteer at a local animal shelter
- volunteer at an abused women's shelter
- read textbooks into audio format for sight-challenged students
- do yard work for your neighbours who might have trouble doing it themselves
- babysit your grandkids
- organize a benefit for someone who needs help
- volunteer your expertise to help people with income taxes (only if you're qualified, of course)
- help cook meals at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen
These are just a few things that come to my mind when volunteering is mentioned. There's really no shortage of places you can volunteer, or things you can do for others.
So, just what can volunteering do for you?
Here are 15 ways that you get just as much out of what you give as the recipients of your gift do.
1. You are a part of something bigger than yourself.
It's a good reminder that you don't live in isolation, and that you can make an impact on others when you give of yourself.
2. It's a big confidence booster.
Sometimes just knowing that you're lending a helping hand to someone else will make you feel better about yourself.
3. It makes you feel good about life.
Helping others is a beautiful way to share your energy, making you feel good about life in general, not just about yourself.
4. You'll make new friends.
It's almost impossible not to make a friend or two when you're sharing your time and talents with people who share similar interests and passions.
5. You can develop a support network.
It's more of that "no man is an island" thing. Volunteering allows you to make connections with others who could end up as a part of your support network. You never know when you might need a friend or a helping hand yourself.
6. You get to see how the other half lives.
It can be an eye-opening experience, and maybe just a bit of a reality check too when you come face to face with the fact that there are other people out there a lot worse off than you.
7. You get "real life" experience.
The things you learn in the course of your volunteer time can't be learned from a book, or in a class room. It's why many schools now make community service mandatory in order for students to graduate.
8. You'll learn something new.
Chances are no matter how much of your own expertise you share, you will end up learning something you didn't already know.
9. You'll get some work experience.
Regardless of what type of volunteer work you do, it's experience. And may future employers weight experience gained from volunteer efforts just as highly, and in some cases higher than paid work.
10. You are making a difference in someone's life.
What you might think of as just an hour of your time may make the difference of a lifetime to someone else.
11. It's a good reminder that it's not always about you.
You can get away from your own problems and challenges by focusing on someone else's troubles. You might even find a solution to your own issues as you're helping others.
12. You'll add to the strength of your community.
By helping others become stronger, you make the whole community stronger.
13. You will get to add a line to your resume.
Employers want to know you're a team player. By showing that you're willing to volunteer, you're showing that you're willing to be a part of something that's not just about you.
14. You can meet new contacts for business.
Volunteering lets you meet new people from all walks of life. You will never know until you get out there just how one meeting can impact your future or your business.
15. You will gain a reputation for being helpful.
This can be a great public relations tool if you choose to use it that way. Being known as a helpful person who cares about others in the community can bring many good things your way.
Volunteering is not only a way for you give and grow yourself, it's also a way to help your community grow.
Not only will you learn about yourself, what makes you tick, and maybe even what your life passion is, you'll also learn more about your community, the people in it and what makes them tick too. And, as Zig Ziglar once said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want."