What? This is pretty much the exact opposite of everything I have told you in the past.
I have rambled on and on about how you should totally be selfish with your creativity, but truthfully, there are also times when you should be incredibly unselfish with it.
I’m the first to admit, I don’t do enough for other people. Like most of us, I like the idea, but don’t often follow through on ideas I have for helping other people. If you think about it, this is true for most things in our lives: we have great ideas but fail to execute them. Why? Well, in most cases, in order for us to follow through on something, we have to be passionate about it.
The same is true for helping others or committing charitable acts. While there is no one right way to help out other people, there are definitely ways that are better for us than others. Ways that inspire us more. Ways that we are more excited about. Ways that we are more passionate about. And like anything else, this will look different for each of us.
Like most people, I have participated in a variety of charitable activities throughout my life. Some of my own choosing, and some because parents, school, or coaches forced me too. Whatever the impetus for getting me to do the work, the outcome has always been the same – positive.
Positive because I receive a reminder to be grateful for what I have been given. Positive because I am reminded that I should complete charitable acts more often because not only I am doing good for others, but I also feel good after. Despite all of this, I do not currently – with any regularity – volunteer my time, efforts, or talents. And I believe that it goes back to the necessity of finding something that I am passionate about.
For example, the charitable act that I most consistently returned to and was excited about doing was teaching adults to read and/or speak English at my local library. I joined a program that paired me up with a local adult who could not read or speak English and it was my job to teach him or her. A totally awesome responsibility! As a huge nerd/book lover, the idea of not being able to read is devastating to me. In addition, as a teacher, I believe an education can transform someone’s life. So this opportunity was perfect!
I truly enjoyed going each week. It combined my talents (teaching) with something I am passionate about (reading). In addition, it was a realistic amount of time for me to dedicate to other people each week (about 2 hours).
As I brainstorm ideas for what I can do currently, an easy answer would be that I should try the same thing again, but no, it would not work for me anymore. At the time I didn’t have kids. At this point, I’m not willing to give up my time with my kids for anyone else. I already work full-time and do not see them all day. Maybe that makes me selfish, but I’ll be honest, I don’t care. It’s important to know where to draw the line. I could say that 2 hours a week isn’t a big deal, but it is to me and I probably wouldn’t end up following through.
In addition, while I had my teaching degree, I did not yet have a full-time teaching job. Now that I have been teaching all day (and have been for 8 years), the idea of teaching someone in the evening isn’t as appealing as it used to be. At the time, I just wanted a teaching job so badly that the idea of going out of my way to teach someone for free sounded completely fine.
So where does that leave me? Take a look below at this quick chart I drew to brainstorm some potential ideas. In the first column, I made a list of a few skills I have. In the middle column I got a little more specific and thought of a few ways those skills could potentially help others. In the column all the way to the right, I shared whether those ideas were actually realistic or not. If I can find a charity where I can knit hats + gloves from home and send them in, then yes, that is totally realistic for me. In that case, I can help others and continue to improve my knitting skills. A win-win. In the case of potentially teaching some kind of class, it sounds good but not so realistic as I would have to go somewhere and that is time I am not currently willing to spend.
Take a few minutes and make a chart like this for yourself. See what you come up with.
***One more note, Using your creativity to help others doesn’t just have to be charity. It can be helping a friend, family member, neighbor, etc. Most often this is where our creativity really shines. Bake a neighbor cookies, make a co-worker with a new baby a meal, make a family member a handmade gift, donate to an auction, talk to someone, build houses, fundraise for a cause that is close to your heart… there are so many possibilities for you to share your creativity with others – big ways and little ways, with people you know and people you don’t know.
Share your creativity with one person today, I’m sure you will make their day.
I’m off to figure out a charity that I can start knitting for.
I’d love to hear your ideas.