“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.”
-John F. Kennedy
We are an ultra-social species. Our sense of self-worth and purpose are derived from our social ties and community life. Many of us think of ways we could give back to the community, make a difference in the lives of people around us, and contribute to its social fabric.
Even though we agree that a life of happiness, fulfilment and purpose could be unlocked by giving back to others, it can be daunting to take those first steps when we are stuck in our daily routines. But we can be motivated to help when we understand that every effort counts. Each action can have a ripple effect and become a catalyst of social change.
Below are some easy steps that you could follow to lead a more fulfilled life by contributing to the community:
Interact with your community
Once you begin to interact and get involved in the community, you will become aware of problems or issues that you may want to change or resolve. Choose an issue that you feel strongly for, a cause that will compel you to take action. You can start by:
- Creating a list of causes that matter to you.
- Talking to family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to expand that list.
- Browsing the web to familiarise yourself with local as well as global issues.
- Choosing the cause that you find most compelling.
Here is a list of causes you might like to take on:
- Clean- up drives
- Planting trees
- Supporting the elderly
- Offering aid at food banks
- Animal welfare
- Supporting your local economy
Add your own ideas to this list. What are the five most pressing issues faced by your community?
Go further by:
- Researching a list of actions that you could easily take and sustain.
- Reaching out to friends and family for support.
- Expanding your drive by reaching out to other support groups.
- Using social media to generate ideas and spread awareness about your chosen cause.
Plan and prepare
Just like any other job or chore, helping the community requires careful planning and goal setting. Create an action plan that is backed by research and realizable goals. Then, break down your larger goal into smaller segments to make them manageable. This makes it more likely that you’ll accomplish your mission.
If you are choosing to volunteer with an organization or a group that addresses your cause, it will be easier to connect with them and offer your support (see some options from Community Resources below). However, you still need to decide on various factors, such as the hours you will put in, your availability, or funds, if needed.
On the other hand, if you are starting a cause, you will have to reflect upon critical questions such as budget, timelines, resources, manpower, and skills needed in order to attain that goal.
In both cases, you must outline clear goals so you can fully contribute to the cause you wish to support. Also, it is crucial to bear in mind that when you become a part of a community group, growth is no longer an individual pursuit; your time and effort will be dedicated to collective success. Your perseverance and determination will be the keys to your group’s success.
It will help to:
- Set out short-term and long-term goals that you want to achieve.
- Write down a detailed plan. The more detailed, the better. This will reduce stress moving forward.
- Create a habit of intentionality by setting a date and time for your community work. This will save you from burn-out.
- Build your network; meeting new people in the community and offering and seeking support can advance any cause.
- Think of ways how your professional and social skills can be used for this cause.
- Research local non-profit organizations and other campaigns supporting your cause to garner support and ideas.
Be an optimistic person
You may think your efforts are insignificant, but every small action can lead to monumental changes. A positive person knows the value of passion and persistence and is aware that to bring about change, all that is required is one person: You.
Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist, was all of fifteen when she started the climate change campaign. She stood outside her country’s parliament all by herself and demanded action to save the planet. Soon her campaign gained momentum and several thousand people joined her on the ground and online.
No action is small or insignificant. Do it one step at a time!
Be consistent and try to make it fun!
By Tanveen Tatke
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