Friday, February 27, 2015

Is Your Volunteer Service Worth It?

I posted previously about the notion that in service, you will be trampled upon.  If you've ever been involved in any kind of volunteer activity, you know that sometimes, unfortunately, there comes a moment when you stop in your tracks and say "what the heck am I doing this for?"  There are days when you really feel beat up in doing good.  Before you throw in the clipboard and walk away, take a step back, breathe, focus, and re-evaluate.

Take a step back.  How much of your time and energy are you putting into this activity or organization? Is it so much that you are taking away valuable, needed time from your own personal pursuits in a negative way?  Obviously, when volunteering, you are giving of that primary, finite resource of time, but is it to the detriment of other things you hold important?  If so, how can you manage your time better?  Perhaps limit the number of hours you spend on the activity on a daily or weekly basis, whichever is more appropriate.  I know some people who hold Board and leadership  positions in organizations who set "office hours" to handle emails, phone calls, and administrative tasks.  Find a way for your time to be spent in a valuable way.

Breathe.  A friend of mine who is a life coach and wonderful spirit, reminds me to do this simple thing. Darrilyn of Delicious Life Coach, even wrote out instructions on how to do it - who knew we could be better at this natural thing? But it's kinda required for life, so its a good thing to improve.  [BREATHE]

Remind yourself of your purpose. So many times we get into an organization to do good - teach children to read, save the whales, plant trees, build playgrounds - and then we get embroiled in the politics and procedures and personal motives and we lose our focus. All the sudden we're fighting to be the queen of the hill, waving our supposed purpose as our flag, as an accessory.  In everything, make sure you can see the "why," not just yourself in the media clip.

Re-evaluate. This might be the hardest part of all, especially when doing something you love.  Re-evaluate your purpose and that of your organization. Are they aligned in the way you thought they were?  Perhaps you thought you'd be building shelters for the homeless, but come to find out the organization is about painting the walls of mansions. Now, next question: which is it easier to change, your purpose or the organization's?

Volunteering is supposed to be easy, right? Show up, hand out a few canned goods, everyone's happy, and you get that warm, tingly feeling in your soul. And then you decide to help organize the canned food drive and find the shelters to support, then you've got to go to meetings, and get, like, actually involved.  And then you realize this volunteering thing is work. And someone's got to do it. And it's okay if it's you, just make sure its the work you want to do.

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