Living an Impactful Life

13 - 1I had been feeling very stagnant in my life lately, and I wasn’t sure why. I am caught up on bills (excluding loans and my CC), my relationships are flourishing, I’m getting healthier, I’m working full-time, and all-in-all, my life seems to be coming together very nicely.

So I did a lot of reflection to try to find where this restlessness was coming from. Was it the lack of hw from taking a semester off? Was it from not travelling anywhere new recently? Were trying new things like rollerblading just not big enough to make things exciting? No. It was actually through a conversation with my coworker that I realized what it was: I am not leading what I personally consider an impactful life. She told me about a potential position opening up with a nonprofit she had previously worked at, and that she had told the manager about me. I asked more about the position and when she described the experience needed, I began explaining my heavy involvement in student leadership and internships and conferences and retreats and the theories I believed and the books I had read and the classes I had taken, and suddenly, I remembered what I love more than anything in the world. Making a difference through leadership development.

I know I know. It sounds lame to some people and try hard to others, but the time periods in my life that I have been most satisfied with is when I’ve felt like I’ve made a difference in the lives of others. I had a lot of trouble when I volunteered, really pinning down what my passion was. It wasn’t saving the environment, animal welfare, childhood hunger, although those are things that are very important to me. But passion is a special word. My view is that passion is a more misused word than love. Anything people like, they are “passionate” about. But when you are passionate about something you breathe it, it infects every aspect of your life; you even dream about it. And I dream about empowering others such that they can develop their own vision for making the world better…so I can help cause the ripples that will echo through time and through change. To tell people how good they are and of how much they really are capable.

And that is what had changed in my life, why I was feeling so restless and useless. Starting around August, I had not been involved in anything. I had not volunteered, kept up with journals, blogs, books, or even my mentors. I dropped everything to work and try to get to that American Dream with the dog and house and secure job. And although I thought I don’t hate my job and what I do, I realized that the following analogy was more appropriate:

As an instructional designer for my agency, I am able to use the tools that I will need to make an impactful change. I have been given the supplies and resources that I need to accomplish the goal of development; however, I am designing “how to do your job” courses. I don’t have the right blueprints. So no matter how great my access to resources is, I’m not going to be able to build what I want. I’m not going to be able to make the kind of change in the world that I want.

So what now?

13 - 1 (1)Now I start volunteering. I keep working toward financial freedom. I keep an ear out for potential nonprofit works. And I keep a hold on my passions so that I never feel this stagnant and useless and stale again.


Volunteering: Long-Distance

One of my major new year resolutions this year was to volunteer a minimum of once a week. Because some weeks do not lend themselves to going out & walking dogs, I decided that I could do online volunteering…during whatever busy week the future might hold. Well, that week turned out to be this one. I have been at a business conference for a corporation that is being held in Boulder, CO (~1300 miles away) since Monday & won’t leave until tomorrow, leaving little time for in-person volunteering. So how could I help out some initiative via online methods?

True Story

Thanks to Erin (@dogatemywallet), I now have a resource! You must create a profile and set your interests (so that they can better recommend opportunities), but there are no charges or minimum requirements (i.e. you aren’t required to do X events a month). They show needs for data entry, web design, logo design, brain-storming, & a plethora of other opportunities. From my experience with it these last few days, many of the people looking for help are nonprofit organizations who may not have the resources to hire someone. I first suggested a name for an organization (not chosen) & then  moved to an ambitious transfer of a smaller website over to wordpress. I’m still working on it, but it’s proven to be a little more than I thought it would; however, through doing these things, I am helping a non-profit & completing my New Year Resolution.

So if part of your new year resolutions or even just general lifestyle lends to this type of action (or if you want to give back but are really busy), check out Sparked! I’m going to be looking for other online resources as well, but this is a great starting point.