Do you want to make the world a better place? Do you volunteer your time to a cause that is near and dear to your heart? Do you ever feel burnt out simply because there are never enough hours in the day to do all the good that you would like to do?
Believe me; I know what this is like. At one point in my life, I was volunteering for various organizations. When my daughters were four and five years old I chose to enroll them in the Girl Guides organization. Since they didn’t have any leaders in our area, I stepped up to volunteer and ended up being a leader for over 10 years. During those 10 years, I was also a volunteer parent at my daughters’ school to provide carpooling whenever there were school outings planned. Through Girl Guides, we also donated our time to gather food for the local food bank, clothing for the local women’s shelter, and provided entertainment to the senior citizens in a local residence during the Christmas holiday season. Around the same time, I was invited to participate in a focus group on the benefits of recycling bins and composting bins in our community. I was so inspired at this meeting that again I volunteered my time. This planted the seed for me to look at what else could be done from a government perspective to improve our environment. That’s how I ended up becoming a volunteer for our local Green Party candidate in the elections.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you also find yourself volunteering whenever and wherever you can to make the world a better place? Can you see, how despite having the best intentions, that I was headed straight for volunteer burnout? I did burn out and I did need to make changes.
Volunteer burnout is very similar to career or work-related burnout except you’re not getting paid for your efforts. Do you find your volunteer work is no longer bringing you the sense of fulfillment that it once did? Are you tired, stressed, disengaged, or even resentful? According to Mark Gorkin (AKA “The Stress Doc”), there are four stages of burnout.
- Physical, mental and emotional exhaustion
- Shame and doubt
- Cynicism and callousness
- Failure, helplessness and crisis
One of the first signs that shows you’re overwhelmed with volunteering is you may find yourself making excuses (often health-related) for not taking care of your responsibilities and commitments. It may be time to take a break, step back, and re-evaluate those commitments. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your volunteer position:
- Are you losing enthusiasm for the mission of the organization?
- Do you find yourself worrying about your volunteer work when you’re not there?
- Do you feel uninspired when you are there?
- Do you notice yourself becoming cranky with other volunteers and perhaps even clients?
- Are you worn out due to your fatigue and resentment?
- Do you doubt that you’re making a difference?
- Have you lost the sense of satisfaction you first had?
- Do you find your volunteer work performance slipping?
- Do you dream of quitting and walking away?
The earlier you’re able to take a break from your volunteer role and identify the problem, the more likely you will be able to deal with things before it’s too late.
As a volunteer, you owe it to yourself to take care of yourself first so that you can be fully present when you do choose to volunteer.
Because of my own dedication to volunteering and compassion for wanting to make the world a better place, I now specialize in helping socially conscious
volunteers just like you to de-stress and reconnect to your inner peace and serenity. I’d love to offer you a free half-hour telephone call where you can see if we’re a “fit” to work together. You may ask questions about my work and the process I will guide you through. You will quickly discover if what I have to offer is or is not for you. When you choose to work with me, I promise that YOU will set the pace of your journey.
With love and gratitude,
This month’s Vegan Recipe is: Mexican Roll-ups