Creating the Life of your Dreams:
An Inside Job
11. Service as Means to Finding Fulfilling Work
Sometimes it feels daunting to make a commitment to a new organization or new type of work without knowing more about it first. A great way to learn about an organization from the inside is to volunteer there for a short period of time. It's amazing how much you can pick up when you are in the environment. Here are some approaches:
Any work will do
When thinking of volunteering, one option is simply to do any work that would be helpful. For example, you might offer to be a receptionist, or help with special mailings or fundraising. Being a volunteer frees you from having major responsibilities, yet allows you see how people interact with each other. Does the environment really represent the heart values that you are looking for? How are people treated? Is there a hierarchy that you need to fit into? These questions would never be adequately answered in an interview situation. After even a week of volunteering, you can get a pretty clear idea if this is a place you want to work.
Trying Out New Work
If you are looking to make a switch to a new field, being a volunteer lets you try out the work to see if it is something you enjoy. For example, you might be considering moving to working with children. How do you know how comfortable you feel doing that? And how about the energy level required. Before you invest in getting training, or searching for a job, just offering to be a teacher's aide will give you a first hand look at how the work fits your personality. And the school will be grateful to have the help.
Working for Less
Another strategy for testing the waters is to offer your services on a short-term contract for a reduced fee. The advantage here is that people get to see your skills and you get to see if you enjoy them. If you do this, be sure you make it clear that this is a trial, and that it is below your normal fees. In a way, this is like setting up a short, volunteer opportunity and getting paid for it.
Service as a way of life
One last suggestion is to see if perhaps your heart is longing to be of service to some organization. Often, nonprofit organizations can provide modest financial rewards but great satisfaction for the heart. If you are at a place in your life where your finances are taken care of, at least in the short term, a year or so of service can totally rejuvenate you. It also creates a space in your life where you reexamine your priorities before plunging back into making money in a different way.
Accessing your own wishes is what counts. They are written on your heart.
If you are thinking of trying out new skills, take some time to research all the
organizations near your home that might use them. Then begin networking and see who
you know where. You'll be amazed at what turns up.
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