So… what does volunteering have to do with dating?
Recently, I had a life coaching client who was wanting to give back.
She’d clarified some of her big dreams and goals… and she knew that she wanted to start to incorporate more volunteering into her life.
By the way, I told this story this morning on my segment on 107.1 fam. If you missed it… here it is:
Dream BIG Radio segment:
So… my coaching client tried but her first endeavor didn’t go so well.
She didn’t really connect with the organization she’d reached out to.
Then… when we talked… she was feeling a little bummed. In fact, when we connected about this… it was almost like she was starting to think something was wrong with her.
But then… as I talked about my radio segment… I reminded her that…
volunteering is a lot like dating.
At first, I think she was a little surprised by the analogy.
But then I said, “Hey, I know your hubby is a great guy and I know your have a great relationship, but was he the first guy you dated?”
She said, “Um, no.”
Then I said, “So why does someone date?”
She responded with things like… “Well, to kind of figure out what you want in a relationship.” And… “To figure out what type of person you want to spend time with.” “To figure out if you really connect with the person or not.”
Then I said, “What if you gave yourself the same permission when you’re looking for an organization to volunteer with?”
I continued, “What if you allowed yourself to test the waters without the pressure of thinking you have to find the perfect relationship right from the start?”
Another question was… “What if you found ways to experiment?”
By that I meant, what if she allowed herself the chance to go and volunteer for a couple of hours instead of committing to a year right away? That way, she could get a feel for the organization. She could gain an understanding of what it was really like (instead of just trying to guess based on a website, a brochure or a commercial.)
So, I related this to dating.
I said, “Do you remember dating? There were levels… right?”
There’s the group date.
Instead of going “one-on-0ne,” you go with a group of your friends and meet up for a movie or something. (Visit a mall on any given weekend for a reminder of how this works… if you’ve forgotten.)
When it comes to volunteering, the equivalent might be to go with a group of friends or co-workers to help with an organization’s event. The level of risk is very low… but you can at least start to get a feel for the organization.
There’s the coffee date.
Those dates are short, safe and during the day. You could get in and out quick if it’s a bad fit. These might involve a cup of coffee, an ice cream cone or a doughnut.
When it comes to volunteering… this might be calling ahead to plug in for a couple of hours. Maybe it’s for a special need that they have… or maybe it’s to help. (Now, I will say that I recommend going past just doing a tour at this point. This gives you a real taste for the organization… and how things work.) This involves a little more one-on-one, but it’s less risky because your level of long term commitment is very low!
There was the dinner date.
Now, a dinner date involves more commitment. Maybe we’re talking plans for a full evening. A meal. A movie or a show. Maybe even a little dancing. Oh yeah. The level of risk goes up slightly… because if the evening tanks… there’s a good chance you’re in for a few hours of being uncomfortable. But past that… you’re out. No harm no foul.
When it comes to volunteering, this might look like plugging in for a full day. Or maybe it might be attending a volunteer orientation. (By the way, most animal shelters will need for you to go through a full volunteer orientation before you can help out on site.)
This might mean more of a commitment, but if it doesn’t work out… you’re not locked into a long term gig.
Then… there’s “Going together.”
Ahhhhhh. Remember… “going together?”
On Happy Days, they called it “going steady.” Some call it courting. (What did you call it? What do you call it now? Click on comments and let us know. Yes… I’m completely out of this lingo!) But in dating… this is when you officially take it up a notch. You’re exclusive. You spend a lot more time together. Things are looking good.
Let’s just say it… when it’s right… “it’s dreamy!”
When it comes to volunteering… this is when you decide to make more of a long term commitment. Maybe this means instead of just taking a class… you sign up to teach the class at your church. Or maybe… you sign up to answer phones for a specific time each week. Or maybe… just maybe… you commit to be on a board or a leadership team to provide your expertise or wisdom.
It may not be a life-long… but in this case… you commit to something longer term.
Let’s be honest. Just like dating… this won’t be perfect. It won’t all be rainbows and little ponies. When you spend more time together… you’ll see stuff that you don’t always like. Or things will get a bit messier. But at the same time, making a longer term commitment to an organization can also produce some payoffs that only come with time.
How about you?
Have you been thinking about volunteering lately? Have you been longing to give back… but you’re not sure where to plug in?
What if you asked yourself these questions…
- What if you gave yourself the same permission to date… when it comes to volunteering?
- What if you allowed yourself space to test the waters without the pressure of thinking you have to find the perfect relationship right from the start?
- What if you intentionally dove in… and came up with a list of organizations you want to check out… and you started doing it?
- What if you found ways to experiment with an organization?
- What if you committed to having fun while you did it… (because… let’s face it… like dating this could become a burden if you don’t stay focused on why you’re doing this.)
- And then… when you find the right organization… what if you committed to a longer-term relationship?
Can’t wait to hear your stories!
Join in the convo…
If you’ve been thinking about volunteering… click comments and let us know who you’re thinking about working with? Or… if you just want to set me straight on my dating terminology… then click comments and let me know! Or if you’ve found a great organization to volunteer for… share your ideas. We’d love to hear from you!
Keep dreaming BIG and helping others to do the same,