Can a volunteer be too involved in their work?
Need is constant and concerned human beings want to fill the need.
Most volunteers will not encounter a situation that demands truly heroic action or sacrifice yet they impute such importance to their work they can overextend themselves.
Volunteers often get involved past their capacity of time, experience and skill. Subtle influences of ego are involved. We may be asked to take on a prestigious position, we may see the offer of awards or recognition, we may seek to have influence or power.
There’s also the emotional ‘high’ of volunteering. Volunteers feel good so more volunteering means more good feelings until the demands are so great other areas of our lives suffer.
Let’s face it; most organizations encourage ever-increasing commitments that can press us beyond our limits. Most organizations have poor controls to prevent this.
Volunteers can unwittingly push themselves to a point of crisis. They become disillusioned, they become discouraged, they get ‘burnt out’.
Crisis leads to re-evaluation resulting in scaling back or leaving the work altogether.
If you are approaching or are already in the burn out stage reflect on these questions:
1. WHY – Refocus your effort. Why am I involved, what is the aim of my involvement and how does that coincide with the aim of the organization?
2. WHAT – Identify your strongest contribution. What do I do best, what yields the greatest advancement of the work? What is the area of endeavor that gives me the greatest joy?
3. HOW – Develop a plan. How will I move forward to apply myself to the work? How will I set limits to involvement that keep my work vital and valuable?
Big hearted people with a keen sense of social responsibility start volunteering unaware of the powerful draw it can have on our hearts, minds and resources. .
Need is constant, it was there before you and it will be there after you leave. Rationally we know that we cannot fill all the need, but our hearts sometimes tell us otherwise.