One Big Mistake Volunteers Make … And How To Avoid It

“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”

— Anthony Robbins

Volunteering your time is an incredible way to better your own life while bettering the lives of those around you. Yet, there’s one mistake that many volunteers make which can ruin a volunteer experience.

They wait to be asked.


If you only volunteer when you’re asked,

  • You are reacting.
  • You are on the defensive.
  • You will feel like everyone’s asking you to do something.
  • You will have a harder time saying ‘no’.
  • You will feel more guilty when you do say ‘no.’
  • You will be less in control.

The solution? Don’t wait. You can look for opportunities right now to help people in your community.

Start by giving some extra time to your family. If you don’t usually cook supper, cook tonight. Have you taken your kids for a walk in the park recently? Is there a nagging chore that needs done, but your spouse hasn’t had time to do it? What about trash in your neighborhood? Don’t wait to be asked.

Then, look at the organizations you’re involved in. What are their needs? Does your club need new officers? Does your children’s school need some website help? Are there park cleanup days coming up? Don’t wait to be asked.

Next, look outside your immediate circles. Is there a volunteer job that looks interesting on the Hands On website? Could you pick a micro volunteering challenge on What social and service organizations are there in your community? Have you considered visiting a meeting to learn more? Don’t wait to be asked.

After you’ve determined a need you can help fill, schedule a time to volunteer. Activities in the house can most often be done immediately. Outside the home volunteering can go up on your calendar. Make a plan to show up, meet people and do your best work. Don’t wait to be asked.

Then, repeat. That’s how you gain consistent control of your volunteering schedule. More action, less reaction.

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After you’ve taken control,

  • You will be able less reactive and more proactive.
  • You will not be on the defensive.
  • You will better understand the other volunteers asking for your help.
  • You will feel less guilty about saying ‘no’ because you’ll already be doing more and your calendar will speak for you.
  • You will become more open to opportunity because you’ll be more open to listening others with opportunities.
  • You will feel more in control.
  • You will be able to say ‘no’ more easily.
  • You will be able to say ‘yes’ more easily.

Good intentions behind giving time helps get the most out of volunteering. Being proactive with your action will also help you experience the satisfaction and joy of being connected to your community.

People will always ask you to volunteer, and that’s a good thing. Putting yourself in control will help you better pick and choose the volunteering which brings the most value to you, your family, your neighborhood and your community.

Today’s gift of time … Took my daughter Tessa out for dinner at her school’s dine-out fundraiser.

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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2 Responses to One Big Mistake Volunteers Make … And How To Avoid It

  1. Natalie says:

    Eric, this is just excellent! You nailed it — being proactive is such a huge part of life, whether its volunteering, home stuff or work. It’s always best to think it through and then DO it. Thanks!

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