Most of us are so busy, the idea of volunteering our time is exhausting! But once you decide to take the plunge, you won't be disappointed.
Look at your schedule and decide how much time you can spare. Ask yourself what you like to do and what you are good at.
Volunteering is a good way to learn something new and to challenge yourself. It is also an opportunity to use the skills you have developed in other arenas. In business, you might be great at managing a large group of people, be a whiz on the computer, or know how to ask folks for money.
There is sure to be an organization that needs you and your abilities.
On the other hand, you may have long harbored a desire to work out of doors, help care for zoo animals, or cook for a crowd. There are volunteer opportunities that will let you do these things, and many others.
Making Volunteering a Family Affair
Find a way to get the entire family interested. Volunteering teaches kids about helping others and that not everyone lives and thinks the same way as your family does. They will learn about conditions that exist outside of their neighborhood. These are powerful life lessons.
Ask your children what interests them. They might want to help at the local nature center, participate in an enviromental clean-up, work at the animal shelter, or take part in fund-raising road races.
Make sure they are realistic about the amount of time they can devote to volunteering. Some youngsters can manage a long-term commitment, but others do best with now-and-again volunteer activities.
Any kind of volunteering instills the desire to help and to join and fosters self confidence. This will stay with your kids as they grow into adults.
The Volunteer Trap
First-time volunteers can be unrealistic, which can lead to over-extension. Remember to save time for your family, friends, and work. These are important parts of life.
If you overdo, you run the risk of fatigue and burn-out. By taking care of yourself, you will preserve your energy and resources for others -- and that's what it is all about.
While you never want to leave anyone in the lurch, you can always back away from volunteer committments. Cut your ties responsibly but don't worry too much about it if you no longer have the time and energy for the task. You can always sign up again!