Friday, November 22, 2013

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving, 2013 is upon us.  Where did the year go?  We just received a phone call from a reader who has become a friend wishing us a Happy Thanksgiving.  We hadn't talked since last Thanksgiving, so our conversation covered year's events and the many things we are thankful for: family, friends, work, etc.  The list for the fortunate can be quite long.  But that is the beauty of living in the United States.  Even with all the political madness, we have opportunities that are unavailable in other countries and cultures.

Our friend pointed out that her response to Thanksgiving 2012 was to go and find a volunteer opportunity that would enable her to give back and give thanks.  When we congratulated her, she said not so fast.  I am on my third charitable involvement.  The first two didn't work out and this one is presenting some challenges.  We let her know that this is a familiar refrain from many of the people we know.  They wanted to give back but no one would let them!

We suggested to our friend that she go back and re-read the section on volunteering in Don't Retire, REWIRE! There are some things about yourself that you must factor in before you select a charitable endeavor. 

Here are a few things to remember:
1. Whatever volunteer gig you select make sure it aligns with your own Drivers.  Drivers are the emotional fulfillment your receive from the work and activities you perform. For example, If you have a leadership driver, you probably want visibility and a decision making role. Serving soup in a homeless shelter won't give you the driver fulfillment you seek.  Get on a Board or Executive Committee instead.  Both jobs are important. If you don't get the fulfillment you need chances are you will leave or be very unhappy.

2. Find a volunteer opportunity where you will be appreciated.  If you end up doing volunteer work for people who are thoughtless or rude (yes, even they can be volunteers) you will quickly tire of the lack of respect and not receiving positive reinforcement or a simple thank you.

3. Select volunteer work that is geographically convenient.  If you have to go too far to make a difference, you will quickly tire of the journey.  God knows there are plenty of needs. So find one close by.  When you are tired, the last thing you want to do is drive or take a bus for 45 minutes.

These are just a few thoughts to consider.  Thanksgiving is a great time to consider giving back.  So if you aren't already volunteering, start.  But know your drivers first!

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