By Natalie Wallace
Every December, I come up with my resolutions for the New Year. These goals typically fall into a few main categories; create more, weigh less, do more, spend less, etc. I try to think my goals through a little, make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely), and figure out my metrics for success (yes, even for personal resolutions).
I also try to think about the greater impact of my resolutions. How do they benefit me? Will it benefit the world around me? How can it help those I care about? Does it help me grow as a person?
The constructive thinking process has helped me be successful in my goals, year after year. However, each year, the one resolution that I always add back onto my list, the one that always has the best return on investment, has been to increase my time as a volunteer. And if volunteering is not on your list of New Year’s resolutions, it should be.
How does volunteering benefit me?
I have found that the more I volunteer, the more I get out of the community I’m volunteering in. Volunteering with CSAE has led me to be more engaged in the industry and has connected me to people in a way that I would never have achieved from a networking session or at an event. I’ve made friends through volunteering, and some of the best people that I surround myself with volunteer regularly. It humbles me, makes me grateful and it allows me to appreciate things in a different way.
How does volunteering benefit the world around me?
Giving back to a community you care about always helps others who are also invested in that community. I volunteer with conventions and festivals that celebrate the things that interest and matter to me. Many of these events wouldn’t exist without the dedication of volunteers. With my efforts, I’m able to contribute to a positive environment for others, creating a similar space that I once cherished. I owe it to the unknown volunteers who came before me, who created that same positive environment that I deeply enjoyed. Being able to continue that sense of giving feeds the soul.
How can volunteering help those I care about?
I like to volunteer with causes that mean something to me. I’ve done fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society because I’ve had those close to me impacted by cancer before. So while it doesn’t look like my efforts are going directly to that individual, it’s going to the cause at large, benefiting more than one person. It’s not just one friend who’s been afflicted – it’s been many. And many more who may still be impacted in the future.
How does volunteering help me grow as a person?
I learn so much more from doing than I do from a book or a class. By volunteering, I learn best practices in the industry, I learn how to communicate better and how to connect with people in more effective ways. I find that the learning never ends. It’s never the same old thing, even when I’m on the same committee or task force year after year. There’s always something different and there are always new people to learn from. These new experiences and novelty enhance my experience. It’s learning opportunities like that which I take back to my office and my life, where I can put them to good use. I can act on what I’ve learned and be a better role model to my colleagues. Volunteering has made me a better leader and a better team player.
I have volunteered 80 hours or more with various organizations through 2017, and I’m hoping to at least match that, if not best that, for 2018. I challenge all of you to find something you’re passionate about, something that matters to you, and see how you can give back. Whether it’s a professional organization, or a personal interest, being able to give back to a community that has benefited you is the best goal you can set yourself for 2018.
Natalie Wallace is the Senior Education and Events Coordinator at the Real Estate Institute of Canada, a member of the Young Professionals Task Force for CSAE Trillium and the recipient of the 2016 CSAE Emerging Talent Award, Executive Member.