No time to volunteer? Think again!

No time to volunteer? Think again!


What do you think when you think about
volunteering? Do you think that sounds like a lot of work? Do you think that
sounds great but I don’t have time. Do you think, well it’s a good idea, but I
don’t know what I would do or how I would do it.
Does it feel like something that you can fit into your life or something that is
something you’ll do in the future? Last week on UNLEASHED (at work & home)
Jamie Holms and I were talking about the benefits of volunteering. There are a
lot of benefits of volunteering. Volunteering is a great way to get you
out of your head and back into your life, to help you really connect with the
things that matter to you. So Jamie shared a story about helping with a tree
project in her community. It was a limited scope and she was able to work
on the project within the constraints of her available time. She really felt a
difference, made some new friends in the community, and got herself out of a
regular routine. There’s a real value in that. One of my coaching clients, Ann
Marie, recently had a very similar experience.
Ann Marie has been very busy and she’s actually even in the process of writing
a book at the moment and she was asked if she would volunteer to help organize
a tribute to a former choir director and her first thought was, “No, I don’t have
time. A tribute sounds great. He’s totally worthy of a tribute, but I
don’t have time to be a part of the organization and the rehearsals for this.”
But when she thought about it, for this particular person she wanted to make the
time. So Ann Marie found herself spending many more hours than she anticipated
over a period of about two months organizing and rehearsing this amazing
tribute for a beloved member of the community who had directed their choir
for nearly 20 years. She was not currently a member of the choir. She had
been a member in the past but as a part this event, she decided to dive back in
for a while. She was able to give back to someone who meant a lot to her
and she was also able, much to her surprise, to stay on top of all of her
deadlines. So how did she do it? She prioritized things. She cut a lot of the
fluff. She made a commitment to herself for what she was going to show up and do
during this time period and what she was not. She was able to really lean into the
experience, knowing that there was an end to it.
So volunteering it can be something that you do once a week for the rest of your
life or it could be volunteering at a spay
neuter clinic for one weekend and you’re done. You just do what you do for the
weekend, and then you don’t go back. You’re done. Either way there can be some
tremendous benefits to volunteering. There was a study at Wharton that found
that people who volunteer feel like they have more time than people who don’t
volunteer. So the obvious question there is, well maybe they have more time. But, no,
they controlled for the variables. Even when they had the same amount of
available time, the people who volunteered felt like they had more time
than the people who didn’t volunteer. This is similar to studies that also
show the people who donate money feel wealthier than people with exactly the
same income who don’t donate money. There’s something about giving of
yourself and your resources that makes you feel more expansive, more generous,
happier. The London School of Economics did a study that found that volunteering
is correlated highly with happiness. It shows increased empathy and people
found stronger social bonds and greater experiences. Building their professional
experiences and the skills and work, the skills that they could bring at work but
also just in terms of experience and memory and things that make meaning and
matter to us in life. And the University of Exeter Medical School did a study, a
review of 40 studies to look for some of the common
findings. So if you need yet another reason to volunteer, the University of
Exeter study showed that volunteering lowers depression, it’s associated with
increased well-being, and you have a 22% decrease risk of dying if you’re a
volunteer. So these are pretty good reasons to do it. So thinking about it
from the perspective of what does volunteering give you? It gives you the
opportunity to gain some new perspectives, to shift the way that
you’re thinking about your life and your circumstances, to see your skills and
your weaknesses more clearly, to learn some new skills, to find new ideas that
you can incorporate into the ways that you go through your day and through your
life. You can develop your interpersonal skills and maybe even make a new friend,
which is always awesome, and you can introduce a little novelty to your life.
It’ll get you out of that same-old, same- old rut. So how could volunteering help
you? What cause would you like to volunteer for? What would be the first
step that you would need to do to learn more about volunteering for that cause?
Maybe you need to visit their website or call for information or ask a friend who
you know volunteers there. What action can you take to move yourself one step
closer to volunteering? It doesn’t really matter what you do.
What’s important for you to know is that volunteering helps the community and
everyone else, but even more than that it helps you it helps you mentally,
physically, emotionally, and socially. It is a win.

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