‘Helping others’ can sound intimidating. It probably makes you think of huge undertakings like volunteering in an emergency, or tasks you would rather avoid like helping your friend move into her 6th floor walk up. The idea of helping others, especially when you’re focused on your own ambitions, can seem like an exhausting task that will inevitably take time and energy away from you and your path to success.
But acts of giving back and kindness (with no thought to what’s in it for you) can actually pay off in surprising ways. Helping others can actually help you get closer to your career goals. That being said, don’t just do it to get ahead, do it because it creates a positive impact on everyone involved.
Here are 4 ways giving back can help your creativity and your career:
1. Lifting Others Up, Lifts YOU Up
Karma, most of us use that word when we’re talking about bad things happening to bad people. But what about the karma of good things happening to good people? It works both ways. If you put good out into the world, good is going to come back to you. Even if the idea that the universe rewards good deeds is too woo woo for you, it’s undeniable that when you help others you usually feel better about yourself. When you make a difference for someone, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and that can boost motivation in other areas of your life. Rather than sucking energy, helping others can actually energize you to work harder, longer and smarter. What better state to be in to then dive back into your writing?
2. Invaluable Lessons, Transferable Skills
Believe it or not, helping others can actually teach you skills that are highly valuable and transferable to a writing career. Skills like teamwork, communication, problem solving, project planning, task management, and organization. All of these skills are vital to surviving a writers room, and practicing these skills in a non ‘make it or break it’ environment can give you more confidence when you need to use them in your professional life. Also, the lessons you’ll learn helping others doesn’t just come from the actual tasks you’re doing. If you’re helping out a mentor or volunteering for an organization you admire you’ll learn through sheer osmosis! Just being around pro-active, altruistic people will expand you as a creative and as a person.
3. You’ll Keep Your Social Skills Sharp
For the most part, writing is a lonely occupation. If you’re not in a TV writers room, chances are you’re spending most of your days alone in an apartment or coffee shop. That kind of isolation can equal some seriously rusty social skills; social skills you’ll need when it comes time to pitch a show, or interview for a writers room. Whether it’s volunteering in a group (so you’re pushed to be more extroverted than you normally are), or it’s helping someone out one-on-one (pushing you to connect to someone on a more focused level), helping others can be a great way to keep up your people-skills and stay connected to the world. These connections can also broaden your creativity. A lot of volunteer situations involve interacting with people you would never cross paths with in your everyday life: People with different points-of-view, from different cultures, different ages, and different backgrounds. All of these encounters will give you more to draw on in your writing than just your own experience.
4. It Will Help You Keep Perspective
All writers get caught up in the drama of their own lives: a script rejection feels like the end of the world, waiting to hear back from a production company can feel like agony. Helping others can be a counter balance to all that drama. Focusing on others takes you out of your own head, away from the anxieties of the business, and helps you keep perspective on what’s important (trust me, when you’re reminded how little some people have in this world it really puts a script rejection into perspective). Even if you agree to help out a friend just as a healthy distraction from your career worries, chances are by the time you’re done helping them your self-esteem will be boosted, and you’ll have a greater sense of yourself and the world around you. The better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life, your goals, and have the motivation to keep going after them.
What are your favorite ways to give back? Let me know @CaroleKirsch!