Giving away your time, skills and energy to help others is incredibly important. Some people say, that you have nothing out of volunteering. You don’t get paid obviously. You get something way more important. In today’s blog I’ll tell you how much you get from giving and not expecting anything in return.
Volunteering is important to me. It saved my life
In mid 2014 – we had just relocated to China and I was living a comfortable life as an Accompanying Partner to a successful Executive in the Automotive industry – my whole life changed in the split of seconds, when my beloved husband had a fatal accident.
I took the unpacked cartons and tried to re-build a new life for me and my daughter in my old home ground of South Germany. A few months later news started to roll in of a ‘refugee crisis’ and without hesitation I’ve signed up at the local volunteer circle.
But why did I do it – when my life itself was still scattered and literally in pieces? What is my life purpose? The question everyone of us has in their mind.
Tom McKee talks about 3 levels of motivation for volunteering. In the basic level it is self-serving drive. People volunteer in order to get a job or new business. And a lot of people volunteer to find their purpose, they want to feel useful and worthy. One of my main motives to volunteer was very personal. It was matter of survival. Volunteering keeps my grief in bay. By focusing on somebodies else’s needs I was able to start a fully functional life again with daily routines and thoughts for the future. I was also hoping that my knowledge as a previous Expat and Cross-cultural Trainer would be of use.
The second level of motivation is relational. People become volunteers to get new friends, meet new people. As I’ve returned to my home grounds after close to 20 years I had to re-establish a new network. Going into refugee volunteer work allows you to connect with giving souls, who are usually more optimistic and eager to make things work. Simply people you like to surround yourself with.
The highest level of motivation is belief. Passion about the cause, the will to change the reality for others and help them. In my case, my inner voice of ‘what are you doing with your time given on earth?’ as well as ‘we are all connected’ – good things will come back to you – called louder than ever.
Since then I’ve offered a workshop on values and the 7 steps to make it in a new country – plus I am part of a weekly German teaching network. It’s the joy of seeing hope in somebodies eyes and having a brief moment of joy in times of despair that lights up my own life.
How volunteering can affect your life?
Scientists researched how volunteering can change one’s life. Believe it or not but volunteering can be a major gain for your health and happiness.Volunteering is boosting your resilience.
- You can live longer and healthier – according to scientists, people volunteering from altruistic reason (the third level of motivation) will benefit the most. Volunteering is associated with lower depression, improved well-being and reduced risk of dying by 22%
- Sense of achievement and purpose – in case you suffer from low self esteem and lack of meaning in your life, volunteering can be the way for you. You’ll explore your strengths, your value and you ultimately help others. You are important.
- You may get new career opportunities – employees like to see volunteering experience in candidate’s CV
- Become a part of a community – you’ll develop new connections and friendships along the way. It helps you to stay away from loneliness and depression.
- Develop new skills
Have you already volunteered? What impact did it have on your life?