Author Topic: Stepping into major volunteer position after FIREd?  (Read 1465 times)

Melisande

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Stepping into major volunteer position after FIREd?
« on: December 05, 2016, 01:06:24 PM »
I'm not sure this thread is in the right forum. I was hesitating between this and "Off topic" since I'm asking for advice about something that will effect my life as an early retiree, but it's not financial advice.

In any case, ...

I am pretty active in my local Unitarian Universalist church. I love the organization and think that the real, face-to-face community it provides and the social justice work it does is invaluable in today's world. I currently serve as the secretary of the board. Just today I was asked if I could be nominated as VP for the coming year, with the idea that I would be president the year after that (probably for 3 years as that is the term limit of the office). It's an honor to be asked, but I know that they are desperate for "qualified" leadership in the top positions. Most "qualified" people (i.e. dependable, competent, friendly folks) in our church are simply too busy working and/or staying home with children to take on this kind of additional responsibility. And it is a big task: There is so much going on at the church; we are growing in membership (over a hundred members now and at least 15 more joining in the Spring) and, by choice, we have no minister (i.e. we are lay-led and do most everything ourselves).

I'm meeting one of the past presidents for breakfast tomorrow, so I'll definitely get some advice from her.

In the meantime, has anyone out there taken on a big volunteer responsibility like this after you FIRE'd? If so, how did it work out for you?

At the moment, I'm on the fence. I think I could do a good job for them and I think I'd enjoy it. Even if I don't earn anything, I will still gain lots of life experience, help people (if all goes well), get to know people in our group even better and who knows? Maybe even build some long term friendships I wouldn't have had otherwise.

On the other hand, I already like my life the way it is and can't find enough time to do all the activities I'd like to do. Plus, I'm afraid that I'd wind up feeling resentful. The current president works full-time as this volunteer job (she is at the church every. single. day). I don't think I'd have to do that. I think I could be just as effective as she has been but also manage my time better and/or delegate more and/or micromanage less. But really, I do not know. I think I'd feel kind of pissed off if I found myself back in essentially a full time job, but, you know, with no pay.

Ideas?
« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 01:08:59 PM by Melisande »

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Stepping into major volunteer position after FIREd?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2016, 01:18:52 PM »
If you're worried that you'd feel resentful or that it would be an unpaid full-time job, maybe this isn't the right role for you. I'd at least want a break before I went into something major.

tonysemail

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Re: Stepping into major volunteer position after FIREd?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 01:31:31 PM »
with a 3 year term and 100 members, I'd think you'll have your chance when you're ready for it.
Maybe spend another year as secretary or try being treasurer first?

wanderin1

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Re: Stepping into major volunteer position after FIREd?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 01:44:24 PM »

Iíve been exactly where you areóand I recommend you either delay until ready for a big commitment, or take it on with the explicit understanding that you are going to change the role and make it less time and energy intensive.

Dicey

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Re: Stepping into major volunteer position after FIREd?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 02:58:04 PM »
How long have you been on the board? Do you have explicit knowledge of how it works? If not, get that first in a lesser position.

Other things that sound nosy but are important:

How old are you?
How is your health?
Why did you retire?
What are your feelings toward work in general?
What were your post-retirement plans before this was dropped in your lap?
Do you have a spouse or SO?
If so, are they still working?
Do you long to travel the world or stay in one place?

Without knowing and of that, my gut response is not to take this job because you're flattered that it was offered. Timing is everything. If you want to tackle the list, well be happy to help you work through this.

P.S. I'm retired and serve on three boards plus co-chair another large annual community event, so I have a decent frame of reference.

Melisande

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Re: Stepping into major volunteer position after FIREd?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2016, 03:37:50 PM »
How long have you been on the board? Do you have explicit knowledge of how it works? If not, get that first in a lesser position.

Other things that sound nosy but are important:

How old are you?
52

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How is your health?
Fine, when I'm not stressed out, can get enough sleep and eat healthy.

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Why did you retire?
Too stressed out by my job, generally disenchanted with my career (humanities in academia), no longer needed the modest salary I was bringing in.

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What are your feelings toward work in general?
I really enjoy feeling useful and helpful ... as long as what I am doing is tapping into my strengths. I'm afraid that some aspects of being president would be great for me, others not so much.

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What were your post-retirement plans before this was dropped in your lap?

Keep on doing what I've enjoyed doing for the last 6 years (I retired when I was 48) -- working on keeping up my French, learning Spanish, spending time with friends, singing, directing my choir, birding, traveling (a lot of that), doing necessary stuff around the house in a calm and peaceful way, getting enough sleep every night

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Do you have a spouse or SO?
Yes.

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If so, are they still working?
He is.

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Do you long to travel the world or stay in one place?
We have already travelled the world (up to 25 countries now). :-)

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Without knowing and of that, my gut response is not to take this job because you're flattered that it was offered. Timing is everything. If you want to tackle the list, well be happy to help you work through this.

It's not just because I'm flattered. It's also because I have a strong sense of where I want the congregation to go (or not go as it turns out). I also have a strong sense of how the leadership should interact with the congregation (more democratically, with more communication between the board and the congregation). I've been on the board for two years now and actively serving as choir director and with our program planning committee for years before that. I have a pretty good sense of what is going on.

I think I could be a very good leader when it comes to the bigger issues -- whether or not to eventually hire a minister (since we are growing); how to increase funding. On the other hand, I think I would have very little tolerance for being randomly pestered with things like: "Oh no! Our fire alarm is broken! It won't shut off! The fire department is going to charge us, if we can't fix the problem .... but our facility's committee chair is on vacation! No one can contact anyone on facilities!" Or "Oh no! Another air conditioner broke and we need to get it fixed ASAP!" Or dealing with our troublesome renters (we're renting out parts of our facility and the owner of the business that's renting from us is becoming problematic). Or having to deal with things like our administrator (Yes, we have a salaried administrator) suddenly quitting and having to find someone to man the office while the personnel committee finds us a replacement. I just think I'd be pissed off and stressed out if something like this came up just before we were leaving on vacation, or I was going to perform as a soloist in a community concert, expecting to enjoy a quiet evening at home with hubby, or, really, any time at all.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2016, 03:43:42 PM by Melisande »