Common wisdom goes as we do paid work for money and volunteer work to fulfill other needs. Whatever we do, paid or volunteer work requires some commitment from our part. Sometimes we get so much fun that it doesn’t feel that way, but there are times we need to renew our vows – why am I doing it again? It is more productive and rewarding when we have some clarity for it. Here are three ways to get there.
1. What does it give me – Alignment with my longer-term goal
How does this particular involvement align with your bigger purpose? For example, your three-year goal is to become an event organizer. Today you are volunteering at your local school for the fundraising bake sale. This is definitely a small step in gaining some experience towards this bigger goal of becoming an event organizer.
We have a common misconception that when we do something for a greater good it can’t be tied to any other personal gain. I say let’s broaden the definition of “personal gain”; as long as you are being authentic about it and are genuinely contributing to your current commitment (helping out at the bake sale) it is a win-win – the school gets to raise the fund for its students enrichment activities and you earn the experience and the network for your bigger goals.
2. How does this suit me – Alignment with my values
Each of us has certain values we care about. Some of them are very critical to our well being some others enhance our life quality. Whatever we do – personal or professional when the values are nurtured/exercised we enjoy the time and get more fulfillment. If you have a number of values common in this work it is a good fit for you. Here is how to find out:
- Find out your core values: Some examples values are, connecting with people, helping others, contributing to something bigger. Also, it could be (even it sounds much like corporate jargon- analysis, problem-solving, process improvement, execution, completion, influence, leadership. Even it could be simply personal growth, learning, creativity, meeting like-minded people. List down as many values you care about and then pick the top 5 from it. For example, for me, some core values are Contribution to a greater good, meeting like-minded people and process improvement.
- Which of your values will be nurtured: In the School Bake Sale example, my values will definitely be honored as I see possibilities of contributing to a greater good, meeting like-minded people and process improvement.
- What values will be dishonored/hurt: Many times before taking up a commitment we feel some resistance from inside – it might be that you are feeling something will be hurt. In this particular example of the bake sale often I see people hesitate because of the uncertainty and lack of a well-defined process. While there are few ways to address those, a more useful question to ponder: How important is it for me to get this experience? What am I willing to let go of or stretch to have this experience?
3. What Success looks like – Setting the Intention
Success doesn’t always mean getting a pat on the back or a dollar amount. A good starting point is to ask: What needs to happen in the end for me to say this was worth my time? If I look back a year from now how do I want to see my involvement for the Bake Sale event? For me, the intention was to get to know my neighbors a little deeper than the occasional “Hi/Hello”-s. Now looking back, I feel it had enhanced my social life to a great extent; I feel much more grounded to call this my school and my neighborhood than ever.
I hope you’ve got some tools to get clarity for your commitments. Now go sign up for that bake sale:). Good luck!