I was speaking to a group last week about the importance of volunteering – why you should do it and how to get others to volunteer with you (or for you). While preparing my remarks, I stumbled across a package of cups I bought with a friend many years ago that say “Stop me before I volunteer again!”
We can laugh about that because we know it’s funny (even if it is true), but deep down we all know I won’t stop volunteering – neither will you…it’s not “who we are.” But just remember this – the only way you can continue to give to others is if you take time to care for yourself first.
Remember when the attendant on your last flight reminded you to put YOUR oxygen mask on first before helping someone traveling with you? If you’re like me you always think that’s just a little bit weird…but there’s a reason for it. Experts tell us if we begin to lose oxygen on a plane, we may become disoriented or even unable to recognize familiar faces. It is imperative that we care for ourselves first in that situation if we expect to be any help at all to those around us.
Life is a lot like that, isn’t it? We are nurturers by trade. We are the “rock” of our family or the “dependable one” in our office or even the “go to” mom in the school. This means when we fail to care for our personal needs, we aren’t the only ones who suffer.
Don’t neglect yourself and your needs. If you’re gasping for breath or barely hanging on, you’re of no use to anyone at all. There are so many things, even little things, we can do to help ourselves…going to bed earlier, eating healthier, finding some quiet time, even just being honest with ourselves and those around us. (How many times have you said “I’m fine!” when you are far from it??)
Will you join me this summer to commit to doing more for yourself – wait for it – WITHOUT feeling guilty about it!!?? It’s not going to be easy…trust me… but I’ll try if you will.
I worry about stupid things like the weather or what outfit I’ll wear to a specific event. I worry if I packed everything I need for a trip. I worry about getting to meetings on time and even how often I post a blog. I worry if something I said or did hurt someone’s feelings.
But to be completely honest, I worry about big things too…paying the bills, the health of my family and friends, and whether I’m making good decisions.
Yep, I’m a worrier. And when my stress levels get high (ok, higher than normal) from all my worrying, do you know what happens? I get sick. My body tries to warn me to stop worrying and I always ignore it. I get tight muscles in my shoulders and neck. I get an upset stomach. I get a blackhead or an ulcer. All of these physical ailments keep me from eating or sleeping well, so then I get even more ailments and that causes even more stress.
It’s a vicious cycle that worrying. And it gets you nowhere. NOWHERE! I know deep down I should replace all my worries with prayers. And I do pray about all of these things (the “stupid” ones AND the “big” ones). But I still worry.
This morning I saw a social media post from a friend I respect deeply, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. She cited Luke 12:24-27, which included “Do not worry about your life…consider the ravens: they do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than the birds.”
Sometimes I forget my value – not just to God but to everyone. You might be surprised to read that. I’m often told how “perfect” my life looks, and that people live vicariously through my travels or activities (and even my closet). But the truth is, I’m just like everyone else. I work hard and worry even more.
But this morning I was reminded how much more valuable I am than the birds. That means I have to use the talents God gave me that He doesn’t give the birds…like words to write or speak…hands to volunteer…friends to support. These are my talents, skills and offerings. So today I will use these gifts more and worry less.
You, too, are more valuable than the birds. Use your gifts more and worry less.
I used to think it was a “dirty word” but turns out, it’s really not. In fact, it’s perfectly acceptable and even encouraged. What word, you ask?
I’ve told you before I’m not a major donor or big-time financial supporter of the organizations I volunteer for, but I am a valuable resource because I give (often) of my time and talents. Those who know me personally might say this is an understatement.
If you’re like me, and known at work or in your community as the go-to “yes man” (or woman!) because you always agree to step up and help with a project, maybe it’s time to step back and re-evaluate your priorities. Are you the one who gets called when others disappoint or fail to produce? Are you the one who bails folks out when they are desperate? Are you the one who feels it necessary to not only attend every one of your children’s events, but also coordinate them? Maybe you’re the one who will ALWAYS go the extra mile because you have the “volunteer” gene or just because you can’t stand the guilt that comes from saying “no.”
I already know what some of you are thinking… “Hello Ms. Kettle – let me introduce you to Mr. Pot!”
But seriously, I’m working on this one. I have at least learned to say…
“Let me think about that and get back to you.”
By using this phrase – instead of immediately saying yes OR no – you demonstrate reliability and credibility. You can honestly evaluate the time you have available to commit to a new project and whether or not it fits into your plan of work, not to mention your schedule.
Sometimes we say yes to people (I know who I owe the biggest favors to) and sometimes we say yes to causes (I’m a sucker for anything Rotary-related). But sometimes we need to say “let me think about it and get back to you” before we commit or walk away.
We all have the same 168 hours every week (but that’s for another post…) so guard them carefully, and use them the best way you can. It’s important that you learn to manage your time rather than let it manage you. It simply isn’t acceptable to feel guilty for saying “no” every once in a while. More importantly, you shouldn’t feel pressured to make a decision either way immediately.
Let’s try it all together now… “Let me think about that and get back to you.”
I am a very wealthy person. Not in assets or luxury items or even in my bank account. (No, I didn’t win the PowerBall this week…) But I have a wealth of friends, family, business associates and Rotarians around the world who believe in me, support me and encourage me.
I’ve always considered myself a charitable person, even though I’ve never been that person you’d call on to ask for a major gift or a piece of my estate. (That makes me laugh out loud even thinking of that idea!) Whether I was overworked and underpaid in corporate America, or struggling to pay the mortgage as a small business owner and entrepreneur, I’ve always been consistent in my giving to those organizations that were important to me.
Since I can’t write big checks, I’m usually the one giving of my time and talents to help a cause – chairing a fundraiser, creating a public image video or press release, rallying the troops, whatever is needed. I’m happy to step up. Because I was taught at an early age to give what you can to those who need it.
Giving back is about more than writing checks. It’s about having a heart for service and giving what you can. That’s why it’s important to me to give regularly and consistently, even when there are other things I could do with that money, and to volunteer my time and talents that can be beneficial to the organizations I’m part of.
Who we are is what we do with what we have.
And I have amazing friends and family, a heart for service, and a business that affords me the flexibility to give back in non-traditional ways. So in my book, that makes me a very wealthy woman!
Don’t ever think YOU can’t make a difference because you’re not rich enough, smart enough or talented enough. You ARE enough. You’re wealthy in ways you may not even realize.
Comment below about what YOU have that makes you wealthy – I want to hear back from you! Or share it on your social media with this post and tag me!
And if you want to learn more about finding your passion and making it your purpose, sign up for my weekly motivational e-news for tips and encouragement! Just go to http://www.tiffanyervin.com to enroll!!