Posted: September 16, 2020
The future can be an overwhelming prospect for young adults. Trying to figure out exactly what to do with your life can leave you feeling stressed, confused and uncertain. But, it’s also an exciting opportunity to be proactive and work on being the master of your own destiny.
While there are lots of options to help you make your dreams a reality, volunteering abroad is one of the best. Why?
Well, it can help you gain a clearer vision of where you want to be, and give you the inspiration to move forward with certainty.
Further reading: 17 excellent reasons to volunteer in 2020
The first thing you need to do is create a picture of your dream future.
But, you’ll need a clear and concrete visual representation of your future plans.
Think about it: images are powerful things. In fact, a photo can spark action among people across the world. And putting together a picture of your future can help you believe it, and then achieve it.
So, why is having an image important?
Well, we understand things better when we have a visual aid. Seeing is believing, so translating your goals into something visual can help you map out how to get there, and encourage you to stick to your plan.
Capture the future you want by drawing, painting or even making a collage of it.
Further reading: Top ten volunteer projects for 2020
Still unsure of exactly how to get this done? Why not break it down into a few simple steps?
Here are some steps you can take to plan for success from home, or while volunteering abroad.
Create one image that represents where you are right now. Make sure it includes both the positives and negatives of your current situation.
Create another image of where you want to be in a year’s time. Add as many details as possible and don’t let “being realistic” get in the way.
This is where you can let your imagination run wild, and you get to decide what you’ll include.
You could depict yourself graduating with top grades, starting your dream job, turning your passion project into a career, or living a life full of creativity.
Connect emotionally with your vision. Fill it in with colour and passion. Add as many details as you can to make it feel more real to you.
Put your image in a place where you’ll see it every day.
Stick it up in your locker, save it as the background on your phone, pin it up where you study, or on the inside of your wardrobe.
It will act as a constant reminder of your goals and give you a shot of motivation every time you see it.
Further reading: Ten things you need to know for your first volunteering trip
Now that you’ve completed these steps, you’re ready to start planning towards achieving your vision.
Now that you have your vision in place, you’ll need a plan.
To get from where you are now to where you want to be, decide on the steps you need to take.
We’ve put together some ideas based on where you might be at this stage of your life.
Further reading: What can volunteering abroad teach me that school can’t?
This is the best time to get off on the right foot. You have plenty of time to examine study options and career-related activities that will help you reach your goals.
At this stage in your life, you have the freedom to explore a wide range of interests, so be open to new experiences! Here are some ideas:
Further reading: This is how volunteering will add to your university application
Don’t give up. Just remember where you want to end up and look at the next steps you can take.
There are still many options available to you, like:
Further reading: How to choose the right internship to boost your career
If this sounds like you, you’re in luck. That’s because many university students are in the same boat.
University is the perfect time to try out new things. Explore your interests and actively look for ways to boost your resume and land your dream job. You can try:
Further reading: Five reasons all students should take an alternative spring break
No stress. A degree opens up a world of possibilities.
You have limitless opportunities before you, so now’s the time to explore different options and take the time to figure out what you enjoy doing.
You can do this in any of the following ways:
Awesome. You’re halfway there. You’ve got your goal, now you just need to get started on planning your way to reaching it. These are some of your options:
Further reading: Which gap year program is best for my career?
Don’t give up. If you’re committed and determined, you can make your dreams happen.
There are many options available to young people who’d like to pursue study or internship options but don’t have the funds yet.
Here are a few things you could try first:
Further reading: 15 of the best fundraising ideas for volunteers
This isn’t a problem at all!
This is your chance to pursue anything that takes your fancy. You just have to start somewhere. Here are some first steps you can consider:
Further reading: Know your skills: How to explain your experience abroad on a resume
When you’ve decided on what you’d like to do, create an image and put it up between the pictures you’ve created of your present and your future.
These are your “stepping stones”.
But of course, you won’t always hop effortlessly from one step to the next. You may come across some obstacles on the way.
Sometimes the most difficult obstacles you’ll have to overcome are internal.
And this isn’t a reflection of your potential: as humans, we are simply programmed to resist change.
Our brains are hardwired to protect us from the danger that change presents, so we struggle against ourselves when we try to do new things.
Feeling overwhelmed, confused and afraid are all instinctive reactions to trying something new. You just have to recognise this and then work on overcoming these feelings.
The best way to get past the fear is to create a solid support structure.
Having a close circle of people who understand and support your drive to reach your goal can keep you going when the going gets tough.
Surrounding yourself with positive thinkers will give you uplifting energy and inspiration when you need it most.
Some of the resources you can call upon include:
The people closest to you are the most likely to want you to be happy and successful, so they will cheer you on as you get closer to your dreams.
You can also reach out to mentors. This can be anyone you admire, like a teacher, boss, or your sports coach.
Many of these people were once in the same position as you, so they will be able to offer words of wisdom on how to take steps in the right direction.
If you decide to join a volunteer program, GVI alumni make great mentors too. Find out more about how you can be supported even before you volunteer abroad, by reading up on our promise of 360-degree support.
Further reading: Alumni showcase interview | Session One | Sami Dawes
Educational institutions have departments that are specifically set up to provide future applicants with the information they need.
You can find out all you need to know by attending open days for universities and organisations like GVI.
You can also be your own cheerleader!
Keep yourself motivated by thinking positively and having an experimental attitude. It’s okay to try something out. And don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t work out – that just means you can cross that option off your list!
Celebrate even the smallest successes, or steps towards where you want to be. Just getting in touch with a person you admire, or sending an application to an educational institution can be counted as a big win.
Most importantly, go back and look at your visualisation. Don’t lose sight of what you want or how far you’ve come. You’ve got this!
Further reading: Volunteering abroad: How to choose the best destinations
The final step can be the most difficult – but it’s also the most important, so don’t let yourself stumble. See this through!
Pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone isn’t easy. You’ll need to summon up the courage and motivation to act.
Here’s how you can get this right:
You can encourage yourself to take action by making use of the resources mentioned above. Call upon your support network and nominate some accountability buddies.
They can help you move forward when you lose momentum.
Post your plans on social media to keep people up to date on your journey and draw inspiration from their encouragement.
Further reading: How to take a gap year: Before, during and after
Set yourself clear objectives related to your action plan.
Further reading: Nine inspirational travel-and-volunteering quotes
Stay organised and make lists of things you need to do, as well as the things you’ve already done.
Keeping track of these things will help you to maintain an uncluttered and stress-free mind, so you don’t easily get bogged down with feelings of being overwhelmed.
Further reading: How volunteering will help us achieve the global goals
One of the easiest ways to take the next step is to contact an organisation like GVI. You can message us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, complete an enquiry form, or make your way to one of our open days.
Finally, you can always call us for more information about GVI, or to ask advice on which program is best for you. Just let us know what you’re interested in and we’ll help you find the perfect program.
Your destiny is in your hands, ready to be shaped the way you want. Take it one step at a time and you’ll see yourself inching towards your dreams each day.
Find out more about GVI’s award-winning volunteer abroad programs and plan for a fantastic future today!