Hey! We are working on something really worthwhile, and we are one person short for our leadership team. Is there anyone who would be interested in helping out?
I see you there.
With your hand up.
The automatic-overvolunteering expert. You don’t even know what the worthwhile project entails, or WHY this project is sooooo important (aren’t they all?), but your hand is in the air because you’re NEEDED.
Here’s the thing–you’re needed elsewhere too. In fact, your talents and energy are needed in pretty much every volunteer role in every organization in your life. EVERY. ONE.
Don’t believe me? Just go to a PTA meeting and utter the words, “I’m available to help.” You’ll be on 6 committees and have a fundraiser to plan before you can say, “where do I sign in?”
The same exercise can be performed at your church, your alumni groups, your youth sports leagues, or at a variety of other venues. It’s like magic–people need people who have time, talents, and resources to donate. You can literally quit your full-time job and go into full- time volunteering only to find that you have LESS time for your outside life than you had before making the switch. Ask me how I know. I dare you. :)
I can write this because I am a chronic overvolunteer. I’m currently in recovery, but relapse is never farther away than a phone call. All it takes is one, “we REALLY need someone to…” to drag me right back in. Maybe with a, “it won’t take much time at all!” thrown in for good measure.
I know there’s not much room left on your plate for another project, but if I just pile this a little closer to that…..
Once I’m in, I’m hooked. I know that I made a commitment–people are depending on me. So I adjust my schedule.
I ask my mom to keep the kids, try to make a supper that will still be edible when my husband gets home in two hours, and fly out the door to another meeting. Yeah, it’s the third night this week that I’ve had to do this, but I made a commitment. I feel guilty because I don’t have ALL of the skills that the position really requires, so I try to push myself to develop in that area. Yeah, I may have to stay up a couple hours after my husband goes to bed to fit it all in, but at least I’m honoring the commitment I made, right?
Wait…no? But I made it to every meeting! I fielded every email and phone call that came in! I soothed the angry parents, I paid the vendors, I made sure the reports were filed, and I wrote those three recommendation letters. I balanced the PTA checkbook, figured out that tax code problem, and designed a new system for expense tracking. What did I miss?!?
Oh…the soccer practice. The class party. The shared meal time. The evenings at home with my kids. The quiet conversations with my life partner before sleep. The precious moments that you never realize you’re missing until two years has gone by, and you have no idea where they went.
Yeah…I did miss those. But I made a commitment, and I have to honor it.
What about the other commitments I made? Before PTA…before leadership roles…before all of this.
I made a commitment to God to love and serve Him. I made a commitment to my husband to be his wife and life partner. I made a commitment to my children to be there to love, support and train them. I made a commitment to my family to have our home as my first priority when I became a stay-at-home-mom.
What about those commitments?
So, I’m freezing my volunteer availability indefinitely. Just like an alcoholic can’t have “just one drink,” I can’t allow myself to “just serve on this committee.” I know my weaknesses–or at least I do NOW. I’ve seen them wreak havoc on my house, family, and relationships. For this season in my life, I will not be available for your committee/project/office. I am going to commit to focusing in on developing into the best and most intentional wife/mother/homemaker that I can be. I am going to pour my time, talents, and resources into the precious life I have been given…
Because I made a commitment.