Just Say No

Enthusiastic volunteering is a wonderful force for good, but indiscriminate rampant volunteering is bad for your mental health.  One person can change the world, but no ONE person can solve ALL of the world’s problems.

People do appreciate a volunteer.  Your Dad for example is always jumping in to help someone else out (despite the long list of jobs I already have planned for him) and he is widely loved for this.

Grandma is also an avid volunteer.  She’s spent a lifetime sacrificing her own time to help others.  Sometimes against their will, but she’s from the olden days; a time when no-one let a little thing like consent stop them.

We’ve all done it in our younger, more enthusiastic, days.  Sat in a meeting at work, the Boss asks for a volunteer for some God-forsaken task that no-one in their right-mind wants to do, and as the tense silence becomes just too loud you hear your own voice thunder in slow-motion:-

I’ll do it

The three most regularly regretted words in the English language.  You regret those words before they are all the way out of your mouth, and even more when you’re sat in a room full of straw wondering how the hell you’re supposed to spin it all into gold.

The worst reason in the world to volunteer is because no-one else wanted to do it.  With volunteering, the clue is in the name, it should be voluntary, not obligatory. 

I’m not saying don’t help people, and I’m certainly not saying don’t try to change the world, but what I am saying is, not everything is within your remit.  YOU don’t have to do everything.

It can be hard not to volunteer against your will when no-one else is putting their hand up, especially if you care about things getting done.  A good way to achieve this is to make a conscious note of what is within your remit, and what is not.

My Remit

I bloody love spreadsheets and pivot tables.  Yes, I am slight odd, thanks for asking.  If anyone needs a spreadsheet sorting out, and I have time, I’ll happily give them a hand. 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I also love talking and interfering in other people’s lives so I’m always happy to provide bossy advice, even if often, it’s unsolicited and under-researched…

I don’t enjoy getting in the middle of fights, but I am actually a good mediator so even though I don’t enjoy it, if the opportunity arises to calm some waters I will step in.  Unless I don’t like the people involved, then I’ll probably pull up a chair and grab some popcorn.

We only get one life (unless you’re Buddhist or a cat).  Your life and your time are precious, and they belong to you.  If you want to give away your gold and platinum time, that is a fabulous gift to give, but don’t throw such an amazing commodity away on people and tasks that don’t deserve you.

You don’t have to do a thing because no-one else wants to, or is capable.  You are not John McLean in Die Hard, you are NOT THAT GUY.  Sometimes there is no guy.

Even if you feel you ARE that guy, by all means save an office building from hostile terrorists, but if your team leader Sheila needs someone (but not her) to thin out files on a Saturday, then frankly, Sheila can do it herself.  …or reinvent a little something called PAID overtime.    

4 thoughts on “Just Say No”

  1. Excellent points on volunteering for things- especially around the office. It certainly can be hard NOT to volunteer around the office when nobody else is raising their hands, but that seems to be the type of people we are—which paints us in a corner. Every time we say “I’ll do it” we reinforce the idea in our coworkers that we will always volunteer for the extra work. Depending on the job, it can oftentimes help or hurt… And if Sheila needs some help with her files on a Saturday, there better be overtime AND beer involved. 😁. Another great post- I love reading your articles (and the cartoons are the absolute best!!)

    1. Aw thanks Chris, your comment has really made my day. I completely agree office volunteering is the hardest to avoid if you like to see things progress but as you say it gets taken for granted after a while. Thanks again for this lovely comment.

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