You wait anxiously for a response. Your boss clears his throat as you watch his eyebrows speak on the screen. You’ve mastered these video calls being the new way of working during this lockdown. But you’re still far from figuring out your boss.
Then he gives you two thumbs up for a job well done. With a smile from ear to ear, you decide to celebrate with a drink. Alone, yes, but still a celebration nonetheless.
The memory of the last few weeks’ toil working hard from home is now a thing of the past. “It’s just going to get better from here,” you tell yourself. You feel energized once again. You’ve been giving your all to this job.
Then news about the rising COVID-19 cases all over the world floods your feed. Deaths in developing countries are rising because of the lack of sufficient medical equipment. You hear of low-income earners suffering even more severely from this economic distress. You wonder how the rest of the vulnerable groups of people are during this global pandemic. You’ve heard about them—the trafficked children, the abused women, your homeless neighbors. You suspect they are in an even worse situation than they already were before this crisis.
The ache inside of you to do something to help those affected by the natural disaster kept increasing as you type up your final work email today. The list of deliverables unravel in your mind, but the thought of the plight of disadvantaged people bothers you.
“I want to help. But I have so much in my hands right now.”
And this nudging feeling sounds so familiar. You’ve buried many of these desires to go out there and give back, to extend a helping hand to the community outside of your work, family and social circles. There is just so much at stake--your bosses’ confidence, potential promotion, your savings, your time for yourself.
I was once there.
As a manager of over a dozen people in an IT distribution company, commanding million dollars worth of contracts, I didn’t see it ever possible to give back my time. I was already giving all of my time to my work. If there were any few windows of break that came sporadically, I spent them to resuscitate my social life.
Who really has time to give back?
Then I had one opportunity—that one day when I was introduced to volunteering.
Life changed from there.
I was in my mid 20s. I had just gotten a promotion as a product manager. I was on top of my game. Then the reality of long nights at the office set in. It was going to be a drawn-out fight to keep up my focus, energy and the feeling of having a purpose for what I’m working hard for.
I decided I’ll need to find meaning in all this.
So when I was invited to check out a volunteer group that organizes events for children in low-income communities, I decided to go. I didn’t have any idea what role that day would play in my life, but I knew it could be something that can give me a break from the monotony of the action-packed life at work.
From “just checking it out” to leading the organization as its president for a couple of years, the trajectory of life has moved from questions to purpose.
It’s a call we need to answer.
You know that nudging feeling. It comes every time you would hear about a natural disaster, or read stories about poor people’s lives threatened by the lack of resources, or see children begging on the streets. It’s a call that needs to be answered.
I’ve learned from research that the desire to give back, to do “more”, and to find purpose is innate in us. It’s also what is affirmed by the Bible about how we’ve been created--if you believe that we were created by God.
After talking with hundreds of people about this desire to give back, I’ve gained affirmation that it is in every person. Some are just more vocal about it than others. And there is a reason for why the openness to help others is in each one of us and not just among a select few. Imagine a person in crisis needing help. If there is just a chosen number of people born with that proclivity to respond to the need, what happens then to the person in crisis if none of these “chosen ones” are in the area to help? I find that such would be a very unfair design for a God who created an outrageously beautiful universe.
Your life will just get busier and busier.
If you’re in your 20s or 30s and you’re thinking that your period of busyness will end soon, let me break to you the hard truth. It’s not going to be less busy in the coming years. You may soon get married, if you aren’t yet, and maybe have children. If you don’t choose that path, plenty of other growing commitments including work, social life, and soon, your ageing parents will hoard your time. Life will continue to throw responsibilities on you, but the nudging feeling to give back will never go away.
Doesn’t it make sense then to respond to it now?
But how? That’s what I’d like to help you with. It is POSSIBLE to give back regardless of your life stage right now--even as a busy young professional. I’d like to let you into over a decade-long learning on how you can find purpose in serving the community outside of your immediate one. And the crucial first step you need to take is to MAKE TIME.
The first step is to make time for it. And you can.
Before you can embark on any new project, activity or endeavor, you have to make time for it. With all the responsibilities you have right now, I know you feel overwhelmed. You feel that it’s impossible to make time at the moment for anything else--including your dream of giving back. Let me tell you, you can make time for it. My friends Katherine, Irene, Pearl, Harvard, Ray, Jen and so many others have highly demanding jobs in corporate or in business but they were able to make time. And giving back is now part of their lifestyle. And they find so much joy in it. I’d like to share with you those stories, plus practical ways on how to make time. Let’s start with that.
Your next step? Check this course that we’ve created that can help you get back hours in your time so you can give back. Let this be the start of your journey towards purpose.
–Joanna Blanding, founder of Giving is Social.
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