Volunteer Burnout

426011335_62be4f4fc5_zVolunteering is a wonderful thing. There are so many organizations that do amazing work and rely on people to give their time for free in hopes of helping others and making a difference. Do it. Now.

Unfortunately, I’m experiencing major burnout from just this. Let me explain. I purchased my Los Angeles area condo almost nine years ago and I’ve been on the HOA board since day one.

As you may or may not know, condominiums typically have a Home Owners Association (HOA) made up of volunteers. They make sure the community and/or building runs smoothly when it comes to common area maintenance, residents following the rules, handling the occasional emergency, and maintaining a balanced budget. All great stuff that’s super important.

When I moved in, I was eager to help out; totally stoked that I actually bought property in LA! I was quickly recruited to join the board and happy to do so. The following year, I took the position of Secretary, seeing as I had wicked good note-taking skills from many years as a coordinator. Over the next four years, the core five board members changed little.

The time came when our president had had enough (looking back, I suspect he experienced the same burnout), no one else wanted the job, so I stepped in. Jump to today, nearly three years later, and I’ll say that I’ve been a pretty damn good president. I’m organized, pay attention to details, and don’t let things slide through the cracks. But these past few years have brought an onslaught of issues that have worn me down.

We’ve had a major construction project lasting more than two years, asbestos abatement, an emergency assessment, two liens, one foreclosure, several owner deaths, bursting pipes, and even a five page nasty letter about a board member mailed to all residents (don’t get me started on that one). It’s like having a part-time job that I do for free and don’t like.

During my HOA tenure, I have experienced a good amount of satisfaction knowing that my time and effort contributes to building a better community, as well as protecting the financial investment of my condo. This time last year, I was also ready to quit, but the other board members asked me to stay and I begrudgingly agreed in order to help wrap up a few big projects. Since then, I see myself getting annoyed easily during our monthly meetings and frustrated with each email or phone call about another random problem to solve . I just don’t want to do this anymore.

I expect that it will again be difficult to leave this year; no one else wants to be president, let alone on the board. But this time around, I will not cave! I won’t let guilt convince me to do something I don’t want to do. I’ve given so much of my time and now it’s someone else’s turn to step up.

But this will not be the end of my volunteerism. I feel it’s important to shift focus from something that mainly benefits me to working for the benefit of others. In the wake of last week’s presidential election, there are an overwhelming amount of charities that need support in the form of time or money. As a fan of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, I’d like to throw out his suggestions of where one can start here.

I’m excited to move on from this project that no longer brings me satisfaction to one that could make a difference to someone more in need. I could use a state of mind shift right about now.

(Image: Herman Turnip)

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