Can you feel it? That tightness in your neck, the twitching in your eyes, that knot in the pit of your stomach. You are stressed, exhausted, and in need of an emergency self-care session. How can we stay present, accomplish tasks, and meet the demands of life, from a healthy mental and emotional state of being if we are not in balance? Working toward balance is a lifelong process, and no one ever stays there for long because the scales are often tipped in one direction or another. That’s okay because nothing in life is ever completely 50-50. The point is, are you remaining reflective about the things that you choose to add to your plate, and are you equally committed to the continued assessment of what to remove. People will often ask you to do things, especially when you are actively involved, have expertise, and a positive disposition. While I consider it an honor to be asked, I used to feel that I had an obligation to say yes because of the honor that was extended, but now I know otherwise. Yes it is an honor. No I am not obligated.
The best volunteer, board member, leader, supporter, etc. etc. is one that can show up and give their best to the cause. If you show up exhausted, resentful, overwhelmed, and late because of the 37 other things that you have going on, then you become a liability instead of an asset. Because it’s hard to get people to join, work, volunteer, etc., people will still accept you as a liability because you are an extra set of hands, or you bring a certain expertise, so you probably won’t get kicked out or off, but is that really the best circumstance to embrace. Maybe you are high performing and high functioning, but, is that organization still the place that you are adding value to and receiving value from at this point in your life. Perhaps it was exactly the type of organization or association that you felt called to support at one point in your life. Life however changes, you change, you grow, and you establish new priorities. With your evolution, you may also want to consider how you invest your time because if you don’t you will end up spending time. We all know that it’s better to invest than to spend, so think closely and carefully about where you are serving and ask yourself, is there another way that I can support this cause, without giving up hours that I no longer have to give?
The simple answer is yes; you can recommend new, enthusiastic and energetic volunteers, board members, or donors. You can also be communicative and set new boundaries with your old group. It’s okay to say, my schedule has changed, and I no longer have the time to attend monthly board meetings but I’d love to stay involved so I can join the committee that does X, Y, or Z and be available for quarterly meetings or I can come to planning meetings during the two months leading up to the event. Do you see where I am going with this? There are ways that you can stay connected (should you choose to do so) without being overwhelmed and exhausted. This change could also free you up to take on something new, but be careful that you don’t take off a monthly meeting and exchange it for a weekly meeting for your new interest if the point is to provide some relief to your schedule and yourself.
Whatever you decide to do, the message that I am attempting to purvey is this; balance is something that you must actively pursue and continually assess. If you are a people pleaser, this is going to be very hard for you to do, but do it you must prioritize and if necessary-cut back, for your sanity and well-being. Communicate via email, do it by phone, or do it in person with a supportive friend standing by your side. The important thing is that you make the changes needed to be the best you and bring the best you to every situation. Take some things off of your plate, free up some space, move some things around, and for God’s sake, last, but not least, take a nap! You will thank me later, or at least all of the people that you have been cranky around will thank me when you show up well-rested, looking and feeling great!