Archive for January, 2009
Over the past couple of days, I have heard many young professionals discussing the plight of our generation. We are taking on too much and need to learn to say no. Many of my friends and colleagues are seeing this throughout their boards and in their workplaces, many members are full of dreams for making their organizations great, but everyone is on a down low. As one of my close community colleagues said, “I feel like 2008 blew up, and now everyone just wants to do nothing.”
I am feeling this strongly, and am having trouble resting. I have a ton going on, the wedding is getting closer, and things at work have hit the highest peak of stress. So now, this year as I am strategizing for balance I have decided the best thing to do is cut something from my schedule.
One of my personal and professional strategies for the year is to work towards finishing my master’s degree, but I have decided to put it on hold until after the wedding. I cut my master’s classes for a few reasons. First, class work has been the last thing I want to do when getting home from a long day at work. Second, my classes will always be there, while some of the community projects I am working on may not. Third, I have a lot of learning to do outside of class and now is the time to do some of that learning. Giving up class for now is my best option.
This post isn’t all about me though. I am looking at my own situation and thinking about all that I have heard from other very busy young professionals close to me. All of us are looking for more balance in our lives for 2009, while still trying to pick up the pieces from 2008. I want to share with you a few of my own predictions for why.
The bad economy and freezing cold weather
This time of year is notorious for being the coldest and snowiest in Michigan. Many Michiganians talk about the depression of the winter months. We only get sun about one or two days a month and it can drag anyone down. This cold, gray combination along with the dilemma of the horrible economy in Michigan is more than anyone can take. Over the past month, there have been layoffs and loss of funding from many nonprofits, and I am seeing many young professionals taking on more than before or being laid off without any prospect for a new job. Predictors may say that with so many people laid off, there must be a ton of volunteers, but it is looking like the opposite. It seems that more and more everyone is trying to deal at home with their personal situation and are taking a break from volunteering until things look up.
My generation wants to be the best at everything
Millennials are known for their persistence to be the best. Even though we all got trophies when we were younger, nothing was ever great until we received the first prize. This determination has followed us into our work. Many of us are striving to pack our resumes with meaningful work, much of which includes volunteering. I am this Millennial. I am sure there are some Millennials that would read this and say this is not me, I take pride in my laziness, but more and more I meet Millennials that are taking on as much as they can handle (or can’t). For me I see this extreme amount of work weighing on many of us who are now learning the peak of all they can do. This has all been a learning experience and soon we will all know how much volunteering and professional development we can really handle. (though I thank the Lord for the vast numbers of Millennials, we can’t afford to lose any volunteers) Now is the time to engage volunteers who may never volunteered before, we need a stronger, larger force.
Feeling the need to go back to the basics
Many conversations I have with family members and friends all end with the same explanation for the revitalization of our economy, we must all go back to the basics. We are feeling the load of the fast-paced lives we have all lived, and are feeling the slowing of the “rat race”. I see this in Grand Rapids especially, many very active community members are taking time off, spending more time with families, or slimming the amount of work they are doing. It seems to me that everyone just needs a break and time to rebuild their lives and to live in the moment of today. This all sounds very dramatic, but I believe it’s true. There has to be a point in all our lives where we stop and say, “why am I doing all of this? I should be focusing more on me and my family.” It is looking like that point has come for us all at once.
My predictions for the reasons many young professionals and other committed volunteers are taking time out of their volunteering or slimming down on their priorities must not be the only reasons. Are you struggling with balance and finding yourself cutting back? What other reasons do you think there are for why so many professionals are taking a few moments break? Do you have any suggestions for how to get volunteers and colleagues excited about their work again?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 4 so far )
President-elect Obama has instituted something called the Citizen’s Briefing Book. On the website his administration is promoting the ideas of the common citizen, looking to them to raise their thoughts on the important issues in their lives.
Today, I was looking through the book and came across an idea from someone about mandating the use of public transportation. This isn’t an old concept, every American interested in the environment or community matters has probably thought about this at one time. As I was reading the paragraph in the book an idea kind of struck me. What if nonprofits ran public transportation? Yes, the public institutions that run them sometimes act like nonprofit organizations, but I am talking about nonprofits in the pure sense of the word.
Here’s what I am thinking. In all cities in the United States the federal government gives grants to nonprofit organizations to start or expand the current public transportation in the city. If a nonprofit runs it that means no profits are being distributed to a wealthy board and executive or transferred to other city programs. They have a self-governing board, they are working for public benefit, and are able to take donations from people in the community. The nonprofit will work closely with the community, creating community action networks to enhance the public transportation, and the organization will institute volunteer hours to clean the tracks and fix up the trains. I feel like more community members would rally around the idea.
My idea isn’t fully thought through, but it feels like a possibility. I have always thought government should rely more on the nonprofit sector, and provide more support without creating more of their own programs. What do you think, could nonprofits run public transportation? Are there other programs nonprofit organizations could run that public officials are currently running?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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