For April, I considered ramping back on my resolutions because of our family situation, but decided to just leave the resolutions as-is and see what all I could accomplish amid all of the chaos.
I’ve discovered (again) that there’s a delicate balance between challenge and putting too much on one’s plate. I think it was Geoff Colvin in his book Talent is Overrated who talked about how the best learning and progress and growth takes place when you’re just a little bit outside of your comfort zone. Too far outside, and you feel like giving up because you can’t possibly accomplish what you have before you. Too far inside and you’re bored because there’s no challenge. I’m going to adapt my May resolutions to try and stay closer to that “just outside my comfort zone” zone than I was in April.
The idea behind service month is that giving to others helps increase one’s own happiness. As one of our ministers at our old church used to say, “Give until it feels good.” This really appeals to me right now because right now, I’m more in a place to ask for help. Asking for help isn’t east for me, and it helps to balance it with some giving of help. Helping someone else helps me feel more competent and better able to handle the challenges in my own life. But I also recognize that there’s a fair amount that isn’t practical for me right now.
For example, I was going to use this month to research organizations and to decide on a schedule so we could donate money to one place each month. With no income coming in, I’m not sure this is the best idea right now. Also, I wanted to plan a large service project and volunteer my time in an ongoing sort of way with a local organization. With the prospect of my husband going out of town for interview, those option seem less practical.
With these things in mind, here are my modified May resolutions:
May 2011 – Service
Focus: Experience the pleasure of giving to the wider community.
-Participate in two one-time volunteer activities this month. I already volunteer helping moms nurse their babies by offering emotional and informational support. I want the two projects for this month to be outside of my regular volunteer tasks. I’ve already got the March of Dimes March for Babies on May 14th (if you’d like to donate to my walk, please visit my personal profile page. From there, you can donate directly to March of Dimes but the donation amount counts towards my individual goal). For my second project, I’m trying to get a group together to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity one weekend. If that doesn’t work out, I have a friend who’s on the board of a local community garden, and I’ll just spend a day or two out there using a pickax to dig rocks out of future garden beds. I wanted to volunteer at the humane society with the kitties and doggies, but they ask for at least 8 hours a month. Given our erratic schedule, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to commit to that. *sigh*
-Help a friend. I want to keep on the lookout for impromptu ways I can help out my friends this month, whether this means watching their kiddos for a couple of hours or bringing them a meal or giving them something I have that I no longer need or helping them move furniture. I don’t know what it might be, but when someone says, “I have to do this but I’m afraid it’s going to be a pain,” I’d like to say, “Hey! How about I lend a hand?” and then do it.
-Determine one worthy cause to which to donate money each month. Back before we had kids when we were quite active in our church, we did a so-called “modern tithe.” This was 5% of our income to the church and 5% to other worthy causes. I’m not sure we ever reached 10% total, but that was the goal. And it felt good to give that amount. Now that neither of us is in grad school, 10% would be a much larger number than it was back then. I still want to do this but for this month, it would involve just deciding where to donate each month and postponing the actual donating part. Then when we have an income and are settled in our new community, we can jump right in with the charitable giving. And who knows…maybe my husband’s next company will even have a matching gifts program and we can double our money!
So, these are my resolutions adapted for our jobless circumstances. I think they seem doable but challenging, and I look forward to stretching myself a bit, helping others more, and seeing how that feels.