Many of my clients strive to be engaged in their communities by volunteering, serving on Boards of Directors for non-profits, and working as lay leaders. This can be incredibly rewarding and enriching work. Martin Seligman describes this in his PERMA recipe for contentment as Meaning – serving a cause or purpose greater than oneself. It can also be overwhelming and uninspiring at times. Most often I reflect my clients’ desires to persevere and fulfill their commitments to the community.
At other times, it can be appropriate and in the best interest of both parties to part ways. It is important to assess what is the benefit and impact you are having on the organization – what resources and skills do you have to contribute and what is the capacity of the organization to take advantage of all you offer. If you’re an Idea person and the organization needs someone to help fundraise or be a project manager, it may not be a good fit. The same is true if you’re details-oriented and good at wrangling a group to get down to brass tasks but serving an organization that needs a motivator and Big Ideas person.
When an organization does not have the need or capacity to utilize what you offer, it’s easy to become disillusioned with the group, feeling less than competent and useful. Then it’s easy to become a drain on the organization rather than an asset. This is when it becomes helpful to both parties to graciously decline the rest of the commitment and offer to help find a more appropriate person to take your seat at the table. This enables the organization to benefit more directly from someone who has the skill set, interests and resources they need at the moment. It also opens you up to find more tailored, pertinent options for involvement that speak to your interests and utilize your skills and resources in ways that leave you feeling inspired, energized and useful. That kind of partnership is the foundation for strong boards, involved communities, impactful programming in the community. Quitting is not always a negative experience. When done in a measured, deliberate way both parties can benefit.
If you would like to explore how you can consciously decline a draining commitment and learn how you got there and how to avoid it again in the future, reach out and come in to chat. I’m here to help.
Art by Chris Cozen.