Categories
Self-Improvement

The Power of Giving Back

Breaking down the word “community” tells us the root words “common” and “unity.”

This gives a sense of its true meaning - a collective union that is made up of individuals for the benefit of all.

As a young adult, your biggest asset is your time and your time can go a long way toward improving the community around you.

Volunteering gives you valuable networking experience, introducing you to other people who, one way or another, can help you shape your life and choices going forward.

The CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, was part of the Peace Corps from 1983 to 1985. He taught high school math in Swaziland and credits part of his entrepreneurial spirit to his time there.

Reed Hastings CEO of Netflix

Once you have hitchhiked across Africa with ten bucks in your pocket, starting a business doesn't seem too intimidating.​

Beyond simply the contribution to society, community service also holds a number of surprising benefits for you both in the short and long term. Professionals primed for success realize the importance of giving back to the community, and feel happier because of it.

1. The psychological, physiological and social benefits of volunteering

Volunteers experience a range of psychological, physiological and social benefits through their work in the community. A study by the United Health Group found that those who volunteered scored better on nine measures of emotional wellness.

These measures included personal independence, capacity for rich interpersonal relationships and overall satisfaction with life.

Roughly 70% of individuals in the study claimed they felt healthier, had lower stress and were more in control of their moods after engaging in community service!

Studies by a variety of institutions have linked health benefits to engaging in community service.

A study by Carnegie Mellon found that volunteering reduces risk of hypertension as you get older. Specifically there was a 40% reduction in the risk of high blood pressure in older adults.

A study by Cornell University has found a link between environmental volunteering and improved mental and physical health.​

The studies did not find any correlation between the number of hours spent doing the volunteering activity and the benefits experienced.

Longevity, though, was a factor, hence the longer you do it, the greater the benefit.

H Jackson Brown Jr Author

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”

2. Helping the community helps your career, sometimes in ways you may not think

Participating in community service however holds more than simply health benefits. Activities like volunteering can greatly enhance your resume by allowing you to obtain work related skills before graduation giving you an advantage over other young adults.

If you work with an organization, you may get good references for future employers. Organizations value community involvement, and sometimes you might even meet potential future employers.

A survey carried out by TimeBank through Reed Executive showed that among 200 of the UK’s leading businesses

  • 73% of employers would recruit a candidate with volunteering experience over one without

  • 94% of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills

  • 94% of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited either by getting their first job, improving their salary, or being promoted

Students who participate in community service also tend to do better in school. Volunteering allows them to apply what they've learned in the classroom to human needs in the real world.

This diagram by the cartoonist, Hugh MacLeod, demonstrates how knowledge itself is not enough and it is experiences that give knowledge a structure allowing you to be effective.

Community Service puts you in a team with different people. These people may be from a variety of backgrounds. And you will have an end goal. Your end goal can only be accomplished by working together.

By interacting and experiencing this environment you will grow as you find out more about yourself and the community around you, this will ultimately be strengthening your confidence.

It gives you those connections.

Andrew Shue Actor

​Community service has taught me all kinds of skills and increased my confidence. You go out there and think on your feet, work with others and create something from nothing. That's what life's all about.

3. How do volunteering employees end up being better employees?

With all these benefits to individuals, it is no secret that employers too, enjoy the positives of community service. This study by Junior America found that employee volunteering leads to an improvement in employee attitudes, greater job satisfaction as well as strengthening the company’s bottom line.

Volunteering provides an opportunity for employees to learn and develop skills that make them more proficient and effective in the workplace. It promotes functional job skills as well as interpersonal, team-building skills.

When employers promote volunteering, it not only builds better job and health skills for employees, it also earns the employer goodwill.

Volunteering is no easy feat, your employees will devote hours out of each and every day. They will learn to manage your time effectively as it will be a necessary skill.

This will help their career in the long run as well as improve their efficiency as they learn to manage and arrange busy schedules.

Volunteering organizes individual workers into groups. This provides them an opportunity to get to know their colleagues outside the usual work environment.

In the workplace this will lead to greater productivity as employees are able to easily collaborate with each other due to the strength of their relationship.

As a volunteer, your employee will engage in many different types of activities that are usually way outside their comfort zones.

They will have to depend on your fellow volunteers therefore putting emphasis on their collaboration and communication skills. This will facilitate group projects within the work environment.

4. Finding the right kind of volunteering to do

It is important that when looking to volunteer for community service, you find what suits you.

The best volunteer experiences benefit both the volunteer and the organization.

If it is unpaid work after all, you might as well find work that is most to your liking. So give careful consideration to your interests, abilities, logistics, time commitment, and even the attitude of the organization staff.

For example, Kevin Johnson decided to volunteer. He didn't have a lot of free time, and wasn't able to travel long distances. Fortunately, he knew all about virtual volunteering, so he searched the platform for a recurring volunteer opportunity that he could perform from any location.

Kevin found an opportunity posted by Services Now for Adult Persons (SNAP), looking for someone to call a virtual bingo game for homebound seniors. He may have looked twice at such a unique listing, but it didn't take long for Kevin to hit that green "I want to help button" and sign up for the opportunity.

It is okay if the reach of volunteering is limited to local bodies. Organizing a blood drive, hosting an awareness event for young kids, or holding a collection drive for a food bank are all valued community work.

If you are so inclined, you could also work for a national cause like raising awareness about AIDS or helping in areas of natural disasters.

Organizations like Habitat for Humanity can give you great opportunities to travel as well as volunteer in countries around the globe.

​Brad Pitt worked with Habitat for Humanity in 2006, helping to build houses in India.

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Try to choose an activity that accommodates your interest and time commitment to ensure longevity in participation.

Avoid organizations that only seem to engage in photo ops rather than any real work.

Many offer volunteer work that is not much help to the community. This is usually the result of an unofficial organization that may be more of a side-line job for the higher ups involved. Sometimes they may be a front for an organization engaged in completely unrelated illicit activities.

5. How volunteering for others empowers you

In this Ted talk, Dave Meslin, who is a Toronto-based artist and organiser who has instigated a variety of urban projects to bring about social change. He is also known as a “professional rabble rouser”.

He talks about social work as a way to break community apathy and bring people together on a variety of core issues that affect all of us.

It is important to reflect on your community service. Reflection will help you increase sensitivity to community issues. It also lets you monitor service experiences through discussion and interaction with other volunteers which will help you feel both challenged and supported.

Try to think critically about your volunteer experience.

Think about what improvements you would make in the process if you were to repeat it.

Attempt to understand the complexity of the experience and maybe put it in a larger context.

This might allow you to transform the single project into further involvement in your field.

Conclusion

This is the much larger aspect to volunteering than simply engaging in the community. It is a tool to enact change both in your community and politically. Engaging in the community brings individuals together to bring about social change.

It gives you the power of action in your community.

Wherever there is a community, there are opportunities to volunteer. And when you help your community, you help yourself too.

Volunteers are a critical part of and participants in societies in the world. Whether actively giving their time through a formal organizations, or taking part in "informal volunteering".

Can you think of the effective ways you can contribute to society with your time and resources and what benefits it will bring you and your community?

Categories
Self-Improvement

Should You Hope for the Best and Plan for the Worst?

Everyone knows they need to experience personal growth but most feel absolutely incapable of planning their way towards it.

The inability of the general population to plan what to do is evident, and it is not that uncommon. Out of the 500 people throughout the US were the sample for this survey, it was found that after the gift purchasing during the holiday season, nearly half the people had less than $1000 to their name.

Imagine!

What would they do if there was an emergency?

You do not want to spend the best years of your life in a mess like this. There is a dangerous trend among young people shown which is catching up.

The savings rate amongst young people is dropping as the amount of people saving absolutely nothing has almost doubled in the past year. Young adults across the board are saving less with only a small one percent increase in the people saving more than 20 percent of their incomes.

1. But I don't have any responsibilities right now!

This is the first argument used by twenty-somethings to justify their frisky lifestyles. A lot of them feel like it's their right to have fun without worrying about expenses.

To a certain extent that is true, however this should not be done at the cost of responsibility. In fact, living like this might actually be detrimental to your health.

Living paycheck-to-paycheck might create unnecessary stress in your life. In 2014 Time Magazine reported a study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) which found that roughly half of all Americans are living this way.

Blake Mycoskie American Entrepreneur

In my 20s I wish I knew that the best advice for any person is to follow their passion as opposed to chasing money. I’ve seen time and time again that the people who foster their true passions and true callings are the ones that end up the most successful.

The same study also reported that roughly 44% of all Americans are living with less than $5887 in their bank accounts. The CFED calls these folks “liquid asset poor”, and roughly a quarter of the American middle class falls in this category.

How do these people cope with emergencies? These households resort to borrowing for all unforeseen expenditure, from a car breakdown to a medical emergency, credit is integral to their survival.

Your 20's are a crucial time to start building wealth, because the compounding power of time is on your side.

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2. You need to fear the Fear of Missing Out

Most of your expenditure in your twenties will be with your friends, whether it is a weekend getaway or a night out in town. It is important to understand what is motivating you to spend so much time and money with them.

Although you may reject the concept of peer pressure as high school antiques, once you start down that path it becomes very hard to control your spending as your friends too consistently expect you to live a certain lifestyle.

Sounds a lot more like peer pressure now, doesn’t it?

FOMO shapes the need for you to attend every party, be a part of every road trip and be present at every activity with your friends. It is a state of constant fear that each outing is going to be that one epic once in a lifetime experience.

This survey amongst 762 individuals in the US and the UK found some interesting manifestations of the FOMO.

As you can see young adults are most affected by the first category, the same study also found that males are more affected than females by FOMO in all forms.

If you think you need to go out to every weekend with your friends, join in every activity, beware that constantly going out is likely to add up and take its toll.

Be realistic about how you use your time and your resources. You should not end up neglecting opportunities to improve your professional or private life as a whole.

3. De-clutter your life for your own good

Usually as you continue to live independently, you will develop a lifestyle which will be based on a routine of expenditure. On the face of it, you may think it is impossible to cut back on expenditure simply by looking at your empty bank account by the end of every month.

However on closer examination there is always clutter than can be eliminated from your life.

Collect together things you rarely use and will probably never use again. Sell them off. This will net you some cash and make your home more enjoyable.

Engage in community service. It's a way to spend an afternoon without spending money. It is also proven to make you feel good about yourself, by raising your self-esteem and hence making you more resistant to other urges and cravings.

Also rather than going out, consider throwing house parties where everyone in attendance contributes. This will allow you to hang out with your friends and have a good time at a much lower cost.

Adam Nash CEO of               Wealthfront                 

I was fortunate to have been raised with a strong sense of the importance of saving and living below your means. However, it wasn’t until later that I learned just how much of your long-term economic success depends on your professional career.

In your twenties, your biggest chunk of expenditure is probably your rent.

Consider some options like getting an additional roommate or perhaps moving altogether. An increasing number of millennials are moving back in with their parents, about 34 percent according to a survey by Pew Research Center.

Although parents may make for tough roommates, you won't find a more cost effective living situation.

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As your income increases you might be inclined to spend more, after all it was you who earned the raise. However, this is a trap known as lifestyle creep. The greatest income rises are experienced by twenty and thirty year olds.

However, after that the growth begins to taper off. This is when you should be most wary of a “lifestyle creep”; the sustained rise of expenditure along with income, leaving little for savings. 

You need to budget your life with a gradual rise in expenditure that you know you can sustain.

4. Why not give a shot at investing?

Twenty three year old Tim Grittani took a crash course in investing. He spent the next few months learning how to trade stocks. The brokerage account he wanted to use required a minimum of $12,500, but he didn’t have that much money. So he reached out to his friends and family and borrowed the difference.

But there was one big stipulation that his friends and family gave him…

Tim wouldn’t able to trade with the borrowed money. The money had to sit in the account. He was only to trade with his portion of the money, which was $1,500 at the time.

Because of his limited capital, he decided that he was going to focus on buying penny stocks.

Within the first six months, he made over $40,000. At one point, he made $11,000 in 15 minutes. He bought the stock AGRT at 40 cents and sold it at 70 cents… all within 15 minutes.

Over the next 12 months, Tim was on track to making even more money… $250,000 in profit.

Inspiring story, isn't it?​

5. How does your emergency fund stack up?

If you were to face a rainy day, do you have the resources to cope?

A survey by the US Federal Reserve stated that the number of people who have saved has been halved since 2008.

Specifically among those who had savings prior to 2008, 57% said they had used up some or all of their savings since the 2008 recession. Only 39% reported having adequate funds to cover three months of expenses.

Kevin Cleary CEO of Cliff Bar & Company

In my 20s, I wish I better understood the power of investing. At the time, I had fewer expenses, more free time, and a long investment horizon — it would have been the perfect time to learn about investing. While I was disciplined about saving money, I missed the opportunity to leverage my money over the long haul

Get life insurance. Look into 10 to 15 year plans at the start of your career as these can easily be upgraded to 30 year plans with much better deals from the banks if the need arises.

It's never too early to save money.

The following graph shows that young workers are less likely to participate in their company's' retirement plans, even when there is one available to them. This is unfortunate because a few hundred dollars saved today can turn into thousands in your future.

While investing in your 20's is risky, it's at a time of life when you need the growth and can handle the risk.

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6. The power of positive thinking

At the end of the day while it is important to remain cautious about the future - you must not let negativity seep into your mental state.

Your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions, and your actions create your life. They’re all interconnected, no exceptions. The law of attraction states that thinking positive can change your life and it helps things work out in a positive manner.

Your body language is another aspect of your identity that you must strive to maintain. A great deal of how you communicate can be reflected quite accurately by your body language. Therefore, be more aware of your body language and really understand it.

Conclusion

There are hundreds of different situations and scenarios that twenty something’s face, but they all have one thing in common: they do not have things figured out.

At the end of the day you must also come to appreciate an existence of a certain level of uncertainty in your life that is not going to ever disappear. Your twenties will be a time of many successes and many failures. You are likely to be just out of school, searching for careers, and eager to find a foothold in society.

It is important that at this time you cultivate habits that will make or break your life. Planning ahead is a very important one, one that is not to be neglected.

Investing, cutting costs and better planning - what else can you do to improve your financial situation today?