Making a Difference: Mentoring

Making a difference can take on many forms, depending on your particular skills and what you’re hoping to achieve. If you want to have a noticeable impact on an individual’s life, mentoring may be the way to go You can form a bond with another person, show that personĀ  you care, and create what can be a lasting relationship.

Thought there are forms of mentoring for adults, such as career mentoring , mentoring is often done for children, particularly at-risk youth. Before you decide to become a mentor, make sure you’re willing to commit to being there for that child. That child will count on you to be there, and giving up after a short time could have lasting effects. If you are willing to commit, however, the effects could be even greater. You can teach that child self esteem and life skills, or simply be a friend. You can show that child the positive side of life, broaden his or her horizons, and show him or her the good in people. For young people growing up in less-than-ideal situations, your influence could chance that child’s life. And helping another person can enrich your life as well.

If you’d prefer to work with adults, particularly those with disabilities, you may want to check out The MENTOR Network’s website for opportunities in your area.

The National Mentoring Partnership website can help you learn more about opportunities and the mentoring process, or you can check out individual organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. Many local schools and religious organizations also offer mentoring opportunities. You can search for availability on the National Mentoring Partnership website or call your local school or religious group.

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Your Health: Alternative Medicine

Whether you have an aversion to doctors or just prefer a more natural method of treatment, there are a variety of alternative options for you. Depending on your ultimate goal, one or more of the following can help you succeed:

  • Massage Therapy: Known mainly for relieving stress, massage can also stimulate and soothe muscles and increase range of motion.
  • Hypnotherapy: By placing you in a hypnotic trance, the hypnotist taps into your subconscious to locate underlying concerns and help you move past grievances or addictions.
  • Acupuncture: Various spots on your body act as pressure points. Stimulating these spots can have a reaction on different parts of your body By inserting ultra-thin needles at precise places on your body, an acupuncturist can use these pressure points to heal, specifically in cases of pain or nausea.
  • Chiropractic: By applying pressure and “cracking” certain areas of the spine, the chiropractor will realign the spine. This can relieve pain and pressure along the spine and can relieve symptoms throughout the body.
  • Nutrition Response Testing: Using the same pressure points as acupuncture, the practitioner can locate weak points in your body. He or she does this by applying pressure on the pressure point and pushing on your raised arm to detect strength or weakness. In the case of weakness, supplements are placed on your body and the process is repeated to determine which supplements can help your concerns. As time passes, supplements may be added or subtracted, and dietary changes may be made to fine-tune issues and rid your body of toxins and weakness.

To learn more about these alternative medicines, or to find someone who practices them, search online or check out your local phone book. As alternative methods have gained popularity, you may also have luck by asking friends, family members, and coworkers for referrals or checking out local health and wellness fairs for local vendors.

In addition to the more physical techniques above, you may also want to look into other holistic approaches, such as essential oils and reiki. Ask others what has helped them, but be aware that there is rarely a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to health.

As with anything that alters or affects your body, each of these methods may have risks in addition to the perceived benefits. Be sure to get all of the information before partaking.

Your Relationships: Communication

Every relationship we have uses communication to flourish, whether that communication is verbal or nonverbal. We communicate our wants and needs. We show how we care for those who are important to us.

A lack of communication, however, can tear down relationships in an instant. That’s why it’s important to keep those lines of communication open. If a relationship is already severed or damaged, reopening those lines can be the key to repairing the damage.

Evaluate your relationships, particular those that you want to change or repair. How are your lines of communication? Are you able to speak freely? Is there tension? Now think about the relationships you want to have with those people. Is it possible to sit down with them and discuss your concerns, your wishes, your hopes? Are there perhaps situations that may have been misread, or misunderstandings or miscommunications that caused a break in the relationship? Would discussing those situations help heal the damage?

Once you’ve made the decision to open lines of communication, think about your approach. Appearing too confrontational can cause additional strain. The purpose is to express your thoughts and emotions, but attacking the person you’re communicating with doesn’t solve anything. Instead, think about what you want to say, pause before saying anything, and try to stay calm.

On the flipside, holding back how you really feel can cause resentment or frustration. Just going along with whatever he or she says doesn’t solve anything, either – and may cause more damage as you keep your real emotions bottled up inside, ready to explode. Take a deep breath, formulate your thoughts, and express yourself. You might be surprised at the results.

Even in relationships that aren’t strained, having regular conversations to discuss your wants and needs can help keep those relationships healthy. It can also help move your relationship forward. For example, when I was anxious to start a family, I talked about it with my husband to see how he was feeling. I wanted to make sure he was ready to try, too. We discussed fears, concerns, desires, and ultimately decided to start trying. But if we hadn’t had that conversation (those conversations, actually), we never would have gotten to that point. We needed to communicate to know we were on the same page, that we wanted the same things. Even in less important matters, this is critical. Without communication, we would never know how the other person was thinking, feeling, or reading a situation. And that information is key to keeping your relationships healthy.

Your Money: Gambling

Every time the jackpot gets really high, you hear it: “If I wont he lottery, I’d…” And a million people run out to buy tickets, praying and hoping that their dreams will magically come true when they win that outrageous sum of money.

It’s a great picture, isn’t it? To have all your problems disappear in an instant. Unfortunately, it’s not a very likely scenario.

I like to gamble as much as the next person. I enjoy visiting the local casinos and playing the slots. I would love it if a spin of the wheels brought up instant debt freedom. But I’m also realistic. I know that the odds of winning enough to make any kind of dent in my debt is pretty slim. Especially since I just play the penny slots! But even if I bet more, there’s no guarantee I’d walk away with anything — and a pretty good chance I’ll walk away with nothing, not even what I came with. Fun? Yes. A miracle waiting to happen? Not so much.

It’s the same, whether it’s the lottery or the casinos. It can be fun to play and imagine what you would do with your winnings. But the important thing to remember is that it is just for fun. While it’s possible you could experience a life-changing event, the odds are low. And throwing all your money at the low odd makes about as much sense as using it as fire kindling.

My point is not to give up on gambling entirely. It can be fun if you go into it not expecting anything. Consider it a form of entertainment. But if you find yourself relying on what you might win, you may have a bigger problem on your hands, especially if money is tight to begin with. Play once in a while, but for the long term it makes a lot more sense to invest that money in something that will bring you a guaranteed — or at least almost guaranteed — return. Put it in a savings account. Put it toward a high-interest debt. Start a college fund. Keep some of your money instead of throwing it all away.

Your Career: Networking

As with so many things, when it comes to your job, it can often beĀ who you know, not only what you know. And that means if you want to get ahead, it’s time to start networking.

To start, tell everyone you know about your intentions. You never know who can help you in your search, or who knows someone who can help you. While discussing my publishing aspirations with a coworker, for example, I found out he knew someone in publishing. It didn’t end up getting me anywhere, but I never would have known about that connection if we hadn’t talked about what I was hoping to accomplish.

Once that’s done, get out there and meet new people. Your local chamber of commerce can be a great resource to meet others in your area and connect with people in your chosen field. Even if the people you meet can’t get you a job, they can be a fountain of knowledge when it comes to getting experience, learning what to do next, and meeting even more people who can help you. While you’re at it, look for professional organizations in your area or online that relate to your area of interest. Affiliating with them shows you’re serious and can introduce you to plenty of potential resources.

You can also tap into online forums and communities: in your chosen field, on job sites, in your local area. The more people you connect with, the greater the possibility of a job lead, educational resource, or just support and feedback along the way.

When you meet new people, don’t be afraid to express your interest in a particular area. I wouldn’t recommend introducing yourself as “Hi, I’m Joe. I’m looking for a job in marketing” unless you’re at a career expo, but bringing up the industry or topic in conversation can lead to some interesting responses. You never know who you might meet or what that person might be able to do for you!

While you’re at it, keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities that may help others. Networking is a two-way street, and just as someone you meet may be able to give your career a boost, you or someone you know can offer the same benefits to someone else.

Inspiration From Hillary Rodham Clinton

“I’ve often thought that when something is hard for you, whether it’s going to law school or anything else that challenges you, that’s probably what you should do.” ~ Hillary Rodham Clinton

Earlier I discussed how difficult it can be to get motivated to move past planning and take concrete action toward your goals. If it’s so difficult, why persevere? Why not throw in the towel and move onto something easier? The above quote pretty much sums it up.

Those things in life that prove to be the most challenging are often also the most rewarding. Why push through in your goals? cause you know the end result will be worth it. And the journey to get there will likely be worth it, as well. Not only will you be gaining what you want; you’ll also be learning about yourself in the process. The skills and knowledge that you gain while pushing through will prove useful many times over. And you’ll be a stronger person for having gone through the experience.

Tasks that we find easy, that don’t challenge us, don’t teach us anything. We may think that they benefit us, but it is not until we are challenged that we grow. Would you rather grow stronger or remain stagnant?