Thursday, October 8, 2009

What's in it for me

Some boomers would argue that my generation (gen x or gen y, who knows) is very self-focused, and perhaps has a disproportionate sense of entitlement. In other words, we expect the world to give us everything, without working for it ourselves.

I think there are times when hard work is required. When thankless work is required. When service just for the sake of service is necessary.

But in many places in our lives, I believe we absolutely can ask ourselves what we are getting out of the deal. I believe that is necessary and healthy. And if we're not getting what we want - figuring out if that can be changed, or if it can't be.

Some may say this is selfish. I don't think so. I think it helps everyone. There may be some pain involved, when volunteer organizations realize they can't call on person x every time they have an emergency. Or when they will no longer have a strong alto in the choir.

And maybe this is actually healthy. Other people grow and step up to the plate. OR, maybe the volunteer organization stops the operation or stops working as hard.

In families, in workplaces, this is part of life. People accept what they will do, and when something stops being fun, when something stops being rewarding, they look for other options. And that is okay.

There are polite ways to step out. You can train your replacement. You can offer advice on who may be a good replacement. And let go of the control of what will happen. It's not fair, for example, to leave a volunteer organization and then criticize them for not having an event they always had that you organized. Or maybe they didn't advertise in the paper like you always did. It seems to me it's worth more that you backed out and let go - and if it still matters to you, you go back.

I don't believe we should get everything handed to us on a platter. I do believe in working hard and in sacrificing. But I believe in being aware of what you are working towards, and what costs are involved. And if you're not willing to pay the costs - if you don't know if the outcome will be worth it - I absolutely think it's worthwhile to take an inventory of it - measure the pros and cons. Being long-suffering is not always positive or healthy. It's okay to question the statement of a lifetime of work, time and service will be "worth it in the end".

No comments: