This project was started with the purpose of “helping busy people with big hearts make a difference in the world”… Showing people that even with a few minutes, they too can help a cause they’re passionate about. And yet, here I find myself with so little time that I haven’t even been able to come in and write a new post, nevertheless dig into a new cause and develop a new action plan. Ugh. It’s been hard knowing that this is what I want to be focusing my energy on, yet accepting that I had to focus on my clients instead. And then I realized that I am going through exactly the situation that I’m trying to help everyone else with — “busy people with big hearts”, remember? So, I decided to write about how I’ve been feeling and how it is that I found the time to at least jump back in and get some progress made. I hope it helps you, too.
Steps to Finding the Time to Make a Difference
1 – Understand that you have many shifting priorities and they can’t all be at the top. This is a tough pill to swallow. We all want to be in two places at once and it’s simply not possible. We need to choose the best option for ourselves, even if we’re feeling selfless and want to help others. This comes back to basic self-care and putting your own oxygen mask on so that you don’t pass out before helping someone else with theirs. While that’s a very serious metaphor of life and death, think about this with smaller real life decisions — I need to go to work for 8 hours today in order to ultimately afford my home; I need to do the laundry today to be ready for that interview tomorrow; I need to grocery shop today in order to feed myself and my cats. Some priorities need to come first in order to have the stability to help others. And that’s okay… which leads me to:
2 – Let go of the guilt of feeling like you’re not doing enough. Guess what — the cause that you’re passionate about isn’t going to end overnight. It’s sad, but it’s also true. We are in this for the long haul with these causes we want to help and so we need to understand that it’s okay to just do what we can. We can’t constantly hold the guilt of not doing more over our heads or we’ll be walking around with a black cloud hovering over us all of the time. We have to let go of any guilt and realize that what we’re doing is enough.
3 – Understand that your ability to give back might come in cycles. We might have a few years when we’re younger and then not again until after our careers have stabilized. We might have an actual season, like summer, if we teach the rest of the year. We might have smaller seasons like a month where work is notoriously slow, or maybe tiny snippets of time like Thursday evenings when our partner is working and we have some spare time. As you think about what you’ve been able to do up to this point, try and find the pattern and then understand that it’s okay to follow that pattern. It will help to know that another cycle is coming around eventually that we can gear up for.
4 – Start small. Regular volunteer commitments and planning huge events might feel absolutely daunting if you’re struggling to find time to give back. So, start small. Aim for things that don’t even take time out of your day, like turning the water off while you brush your teeth, or asking for canned goods to donate instead of hostess gifts at your next family gathering. Another easy one is skipping the straw on your soda at lunch. We have some great 2 Minute Action Plans that might help you get started! These small things will add up in no time!
5 – Try to incorporate giving back into activities you’re already spending time on. For example, when your book club meets next month, ask everyone to bring old books to donate. Or if your child has a school project, what if you’re able to help them put a giving back twist on it? Maybe you’ve noticed that your colleagues at work fail to recycle their soda cans and you talk to your boss about getting more prominent recycling cans around the building. There are many ways we can take small steps in our lives that lead to big change!
I hope these thoughts and tip are helpful to you and your ability to find some time to give back! Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, so do what you can and be proud of yourself for even the smallest steps as together they will add up to miles!