One of our current projects is with AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Florida AIDS Walk. It is a 5k walk in South Florida. We were brought on board to help take charge of community outreach, on the ground field operations, marketing and promotion of the walk, as well as building lasting partnerships with corporate teams.
This is our second year working with Event 360 (the production and marketing company that spearheads the project) and AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Broward County (what non-South Floridians would know as Fort Lauderdale) and Miami-Dade County have an exceptionally high rate of new AIDS/HIV cases in the nation. The work we do helps to drop the stigma surrounding AIDS/HIV diagnoses and our work is, in part, to help eight beneficiaries (local non-profit organizations) to raise money, as AHF matches each of these beneficiaries total sum raised, dollar for dollar. It’s so cool to connect communities and have hard conversations that help to provide people with access to much-needed resources.
At The Idea Inc, my purpose is to bring people together, have seemingly impossible conversations in the short-run for the betterment of a community (in the long-run) and plan experiences, programs and events that support uniting communities.
So, here’s the thing. I can get exhausted and when not careful, I feel the fire slipping away when I sign on to do programs like with AHF and Event 360. And by “slipping away,” I mean daydreaming about what I REALLY need: to travel, eat and maintain a cushy way of life.
I have gone through these lulls before. If you are a person that for a living “makes the world a better place” and feels this urgency to see the impact you put time into, you’ve also suffered through burnout. You can sense cynicism creeping in. You work hard, but you quietly (maybe loudly) ask yourself, “What am I even doing this for? Why am I pushing myself so hard?” It’s tough. When, for most of us, work has become a means to an end and, we question whether we are truly part of an experience that means something and accomplishes real good.
It is called being human and here are three ways I take small steps toward reconnecting with the “good work” I have been dedicated to and continue to love…most days.
I think continuing education is a great idea to refresh and recharge. It helps you put your finger back on what is driving you to show up each and every day to make an impact. And yet, colleagues often feel a ton of dredge when thinking about taking yet another class, getting their masters or researching new ideas and initiatives.
If you are doing work that will benefit a community, it means you are getting people (elected officials, the community, etc…) to “buy into” new ideas and new ways of thinking. You have to sell concepts, make what you do sexy (when it is often not sexy), get people engaged in the process and advocating for their own wellbeing and that of their communities.
It can be exhausting.
That’s why I recommend that you dig in. Do some research on a regular basis. Read white papers weekly. Read articles and industry journals whether you feel up to it or not. It doesn’t seem like it, but they inspire your work and help drive you towards new ideas. Talk to colleagues about the work you are doing. Ask yourself and others for honest feedback. Ask them to tell you if what you’re doing is still relevant – is it on point? It is a tough pill to swallow, but research lends itself to answers that will tell you if you are on the right path. I have found that when you have data to prove you’re setting the right course, you are re-energized with the same vigor you had when you began. Trust your instincts and build on them with research, data and feedback from the community and people within the industry.
Let me explain. I use the word “pray” because it resonates for me. The term pray also means to entreat which means to negotiate. Working for a paycheck is one thing, but working to enact change is another and sometimes we have to renegotiate terms with our families who support our goals and ourselves. Prayer for me is a time for me to relook at what I have said “yes” to. Am I feeling exhausted? Resentful? Overworked? Unappreciated? Are there small tweaks I can make to my schedule to feel more rested and supported? Do my family and friends feel irritated and supportive which can lead to resentment even if they encourage me to do the “good work”? These are questions I ask myself and the people I work with from time to time to see if the commitment to the work is taking precedence over my mental and physical health.
The Idea, Inc. gets shit done. We are the work, research, eyes/ears and (wo)man power behind “making the world a better place.” You think your community looks good because it just magically happened? No. There are groups of people planting trees, sweeping sidewalks, repaving roads and laying down cobblestone (I love cobblestone) for your community to be beautiful.
While I love what I do, I often give myself a few minutes (hell…days) to consider quitting. I could get into another field. I could go on a sabbatical (even though I never understand who does these things and how). I want to make a good living, but work does not have to be my beginning and end so every few months (or weeks if I’m feeling stressed), I allow myself an out. I think of an exit strategy that would alleviate the pressure. I take it very seriously. One day, I may not go back, but in those moments, I realize no one is holding my feet to the fire. I am choosing this life and I do so with love when I can and feel okay about throwing in the towel from time to time. Sometimes, it is okay to say, “I quit.”
Sure, some of this may seem counterintuitive. But it works. It helps us at The Idea, Inc. to reconnect with our purpose. To stay on track and to deliver outstanding results for our clients. We love what we do. But when you work in this field of “good” – you can get weighed down with the obstacles and the questions in the back of your head. The point is – it’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you human.
What’s your way to reconnect with your purpose? We’d love to hear it.