I have a very bad habit of overloading my plate. It’s good to keep busy but not at the detriment to health.
My entire life I have been in the endless cycle of overworking myself, getting burnt out, getting rid of a lot of the workload to try to recover only to find new things to take their place and start the cycle all over again. Most of the time this happens through volunteer projects, stuff that I don’t have to take on but do anyway on top of everything else that I have on my plate.
I never do New Years resolutions but this year I made one to eliminate a lot of the volunteer work and avoid taking on new projects; so far in only 14 days of the year this is proving to be just as hard as the usual “eat healthier”, “go to the gym” and “quit smoking” resolutions. I didn’t realize that I had an addiction!
I like volunteering, however I find that I subconsciously feel like I have to “earn my keep” and spearhead fund raising and outreach projects to help the cause. This is not necessary, nobody is asking me to do this. I don’t know why my subconscious feels like it has to prove anything to anybody but I really need to find a way to stop. These projects, however helpful to the cause, are a lot of stress and take up a lot of time. In the end, my mental health is suffering.
As I try to step back from all of this my brain keeps coming up with new ideas for projects or I keep having to hold back from jumping in and taking over from whoever is now running those projects. It’s such a struggle! Is there a Volunteerholics Anonymous Group?
So since I can’t really have idle hands, I am trying to instead keep busy with paid projects. If I am going to be stressed and overworked I might as well be getting paid for it. In this process I have learned, that while bookkeeping doesn’t pay as well as web design, I enjoy it a heck of a lot more. I actually like doing the stuff that most people hate. I am very tempted to build a new website to get more than the occasional client.
I just hope that I find the strength and willpower to avoid falling off the wagon. Meanwhile, if you see me volunteering or proposing new projects, you are authorized to slap me.
I saw a friend’s Facebook picture about some hand’s on volunteering that she was doing and my first thought was “I wish I could do something like that”. Then I thought, wait a minute! I AM already volunteering! I volunteer anywhere from 10 to 15 hours a week (sometimes more), why didn’t I think of that first?
I volunteer as the bookkeeper for a national non profit organization working to beat the breastfeeding booby traps, I volunteer as a leader for La Leche League, in addition to the usual breastfeeding support by phone and e-mail and leading meetings several times a year I also organize and execute several fund-raising projects per year, administer their Facebook page and group, I built and maintain their website and handle all memberships and will occasionally organize events such as the Big Latch On. I even added to my plate this week by taking over the invoicing of leader dues for the Sunshine State Area.
Now that I really think about it, I volunteer quite a bit! My guess is that because I do it at home and I enjoy doing it my brain just doesn’t register it as volunteer work. All of these little jobs are so emotionally rewarding to me, better than writing a check and the jobs fit me because I don’t need money or a car to do them and I can do them on my schedule, usually when the kids are sleeping or ignoring me while they play.
That is one of the advantages of living in the 21st Century, there are so many ways to use technology that you don’t have to work a shift at a soup kitchen to give back to the community.
If you are not currently volunteering in some way, I encourage you to think about how you can give back, it can be easier than you think and it will only take as much time as you are able to give, even 1 hour per month helps!
If you have any special skills, non profit and community organizations are always in need of help with web design, fundraising, graphic design, bookkeeping, grant writing and more. Even if you don’t have any special skills they can always benefit from people spreading the word about their cause. Who knows? maybe they will have the perfect job for you that will be so easy and fun that it won’t feel like work at all.