Sunday, December 11, 2011

Tis the season - volunteering your way to a fulfilling career!

Wow, it's here, it's really here - the end of the year! This is the time where many of us take time for ourselves, and review what's happened, and start to think about what will be different next year. This is a great practice and an incredibly valuable one. Taking the time to reflect on what went well, what didn't and your contribution to each of those situations can provide you with great insights on how to do more of what you love and less of what you don't. Each of you will have your own approach for this process - the key is finding one that is meaningful to you. If you aren't sure where to begin, check out this fantastic list of resources, or this article from Les McKeown. I'm going to offer one additional suggestion that may not seem much like reflection, or taking time for yourself, but in the end I think you'll learn a lot from it.

Pencil in some time on the calendar to volunteer (VolunteerMatch is one of many places to get connected to opportunities in your local area), but don't just take the easy way out and show up at the local soup kitchen (unless you have a real passion for it). Find an opportunity that aligns with one of your deeply held interests, values, or hobbies. For example, if you are a runner like I am, sign-up to be a "Girls on the Run" mentor - not only do you get to go for a run (which you love), you get the opportunity to meet a young girl and help her build confidence to become successful (male runners, you're invited too!). Besides meeting your running partner, you'll also get the chance to meet like-minded people - other running mentors and program organizers. This is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the organization, or that person - you can use this information as you continue to refine your personal plan.

And, if running isn't your thing. Choose from any number of other opportunities. Once you are in there, see what you like best. For example do you love:
  • helping them see new ways to grow the organization?
  • inspiring people to do something new, different, or better?
  • working with the people the group serves?
  • relishing in being behind the scenes?
Maybe there wasn't anything you liked... If that was the case, take another look at why you selected that organization and activity. Then, make sure you ask yourself if you gave it all you had or how you contributed to the success or failure of the situation.

The point is not to just pick an activity for the sake of picking an activity - the point is to spend time doing what you love, and looking at where you naturally gravitate. Then, take steps to figure out how you can bring more of this into your work life. Reaching your full potential is so much easier when you actually like what you're doing, so take the time to figure it out!

Enjoy your holidays!!

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