Enjoying the journey
By Alison Rogers, Executive Member EcoNetwork Port Stephens.
Slowing down over the summer break provides a great opportunity for reflecting on what has happened and thinking about what you would like to do during the year ahead. This edition of Get Involved may help with this reflective process. Up to now the series has explored the personal benefits of volunteering, how to be more inclusive, the power of collaborating, strategies to enhance decision making, seeing differences of opinion as an opportunity and how to capitalise on change. But the most important message, that allows everything else fall into place, is to enjoy the journey.
We often do not take time out to appreciate what we are doing and what we have achieved in our volunteering roles. The next task is overdue, the requests are piling up, the weeds have grown back, the to-do-list is getting longer and the inbox is overflowing. The nature of volunteer work means there is not necessarily an end goal. Key achievements do not necessarily stand out and efforts are not easily measured in tangible ways.
We may never know if our work has made a difference. We may never receive recognition for what we do. Even if we are working at full capacity, our contribution may not bring about the changes we’d hoped it would. This is not a reason to be disparaging or give up – this gives us a reason to make sure we enjoy each moment along the way.
Taking time to reflect is a powerful way of becoming self-aware about what has changed, what has made you feel personally satisfied, what you have enjoyed and what you want to do more of. Formal reflection as a group is an important part of understanding what is working well, what was learnt, and what could be improved. However, I would argue that more importantly, self-reflection on a personal level can make a difference to your own well-being. ‘If you recognise and acknowledge what it is you enjoy about volunteering, this can flow to many aspects of your work and to those around you.’
Some questions that can help you to identify what you enjoy about volunteering:
- Do you remember why you started volunteering?
- When did you feel like you were part of something bigger?
- Can you recall a moment when you laughed out aloud?
- When did you feel connected to another person or to a place?
- Can you remember when someone thanked you?
- When did you last thank someone or acknowledge their work?
I hope you have enjoyed this series of Get Involved. Send comments, feedback or ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org