Where to Now? Finding Your Purpose Through Volunteering

For many of us, the past three years have probably been the hardest we have ever remembered. The pandemic stripped away our freedom, once taken for granted, and the war in Ukraine provided people across the world, not least in Europe, of the fragility of life and the value of peace. As Roe v Wade was overturned, women woke up to an even more unequal world: one where even their bodily autonomy and choice for their own future could not be guaranteed.

Inflation has risen alongside spiralling energy prices in countless nations. Wages are stagnant and essential workers are finding that they aren’t valued, or respected, by their billionaire bosses, who don’t care about their welfare or the fact that they may have to choose between heating and food this winter.

We have never lived in a more unequal, more terrifying, more dispiriting times.

But this doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. In fact, quite the opposite.

Instead of giving up in the face of this bleak landscape, many people are using this critical point in their lives to make big changes. They are gathering together as a community, focussing on a brighter future, and selflessly giving their time to achieve it.

Instead of retreating, they are discovering what’s truly important in their lives and sharing this hope with everybody. And all it takes is becoming a volunteer.

The Benefits of Volunteering

There’s no set way to volunteer, or prescribed causes you should volunteer for. Finding your purpose and path to a better future depends on what you feel connected to, and what you feel most passionate about. Even if you’re not sure yet what that is, you can start this journey of self-discovery by volunteering in different ways. Each journey will be different for each person, but all of the benefits remain the same.

  • Expanding perspectives – When you volunteer, you’ll come into contact with an incredible array of people, ideas, situations, and knowledge that you’ve probably never experienced before. This can be challenging, but at the same time, deeply rewarding. Opening yourself up to these new perspectives not only expands your understanding of the world, but also equips you with the tools to better navigate any curveball life throws at you, and bond with people from all walks of life.
  • Building a network of like-minded friends – Loneliness and disconnection was a key theme of the pandemic for many. Volunteering is the antidote, providing you with endless opportunities to meet and join hands with people who share your values and also want to make the world a better place.
  • Appreciation – Sometimes, it feels good just to be appreciated for who you are. This is far from selfish: applying your skills in a rewarding way, and knowing that you are making a visible difference in other people’s lives, is vital for a sense of self-worth, and a strong sense of self-worth will blossom into further acts of kindness, selflessness, and philanthropy.
  • Personal development – Is there anything about your life you’d like to change? As you volunteer, you’ll learn and improve many vital skills, like time management, flexibility, effective communication, and empathy. Apart from that, you’ll also gain a far deeper understanding of who you are, what you want, and what makes you tick – all of which is essential in achieving happiness and self-satisfaction.
  • Career development – What few people realise is that the time you use to volunteer doesn’t come as a sacrifice to your day job. In fact, by further developing your skills as you volunteer, you are actually opening up even more opportunities for career advancement. Whether you’re looking for new employment or just the next rung in the ladder at your current job, volunteering assignments show everyone that you’re ready to take the next step.

Virtual Volunteering – The Best of Both Worlds?

Given the obvious benefits of volunteering, why is it that more people don’t do it? One reason may be that many are stuck on the traditional model of volunteering: that is, travelling large distances, spending your own money, and giving up significant blocks of time to help out on a project.

But the digital age, and increasing interconnectedness of the globe, means these hurdles are simply no longer relevant. NPOs, NGOs, clubs, and societies from across the world are desperate for help, and they are more than happy to accommodate the right person, no matter where they’re located.

In other words, if you have an internet connection and a couple of hours a week to spare, you can volunteer. In fact, despite the lower burden on your time, this kind of skills-based volunteering is often far more valuable to non-profits and the communities they serve than traditional hands-on efforts.

It’s a win-win situation. You can fit volunteering into any busy life, and find a deeper purpose doing it. And at the same time, the world, its communities,and its ecosystem all benefit greatly from the skills you bring to the table.

Want to make a change but don’t know where to start? Ready to give your skills to exciting projects from all across the world? Help others (and yourself!) by signing up to our Volunteering Marketplace.

Raphael Shinners
About the author
Raphael Shinners
The current state of the world is causing many to lose hope. But there's a way to find purpose and a brighter future.

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