We all know that giving of yourself is important. But with all of the many different ways we can give, it can sometimes seem very overwhelming.

You may see opportunities for volunteer work and wonder how you will ever find the time to fit it into your already busy day.

Or you may feel that giving of yourself will be such a time-consuming commitment that you would never be able to commit to it.

Everything we do is a choice.

We have to be willing participants in life. And that includes giving of yourself to help improve the life of someone else.

Personally, I enjoy giving my time to help other people. And I have had many wonderful opportunities to serve others. But it wasn’t always a positive experience for me.

When I was younger, I used to say yes to every single thing that came along. I had a really hard time saying no. Every time someone asked me to do something, I felt obligated to step up and do it.

But by saying yes to everything, I made myself miserable. That happy, positive feeling you get from giving of yourself was clouded over by the fact that I didn’t have time for all of the other things I needed to do.

We’ve all probably felt like this at different times in our lives.

But giving of yourself doesn’t mean giving up yourself.

Here are five ways to give of yourself without losing who you are.

Figure out what it is that you want.

This is key when it comes to charity work. There are so many organizations out there that need volunteers. They are desperate for help.

One person can’t possibly fill the needs of all of the organizations out there in need of dedicated volunteers. So decide now what it is that you want to do.

How do you want to contribute to the world? How much time do you want to spend volunteering?

Figure out what you want and then build it into your schedule.

It’s okay to say no.

Write these words in bold and frame them. It’s OKAY to say NO.

If it’s not something you want to do, just say no—and feel good about that decision.

Remind yourself that if you spend your time and energy on something you don’t really want to do, you are giving up opportunities to say yes somewhere else.

We all have the same 24 hours in a day.

And we need to fill that time with the things that matter to us.

Make your giving intentional.

Right now, I am on five committees and the chair of a national board. With my six kids, writing, and speaking, my days get pretty busy. But the work I do is important to me.

And because it’s important to me, it fills me with joy. I want to do my part in making the world a better place.

Fifteen years ago, when I was giving of myself, I was doing things just to do them. I was checking them off a long list of things I had to do. I didn’t know back then where my passion was in terms of philanthropy and volunteer work.

Since that time, I have realized that giving of yourself doesn’t mean giving up yourself. I now align my giving to those things that I’m most passionate about.

Giving of yourself can absolutely be a part of who you are. Make decisions that will make you feel good about what you’re doing.

And never get into the habit of just doing things because someone asked you to.

I may have several different roles in the different areas of volunteering and philanthropy. But I am passionate about every role I’m in. And I truly feel that with these roles, I have the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

Make the time to make things happen.

When someone says to me, “I don’t have time for that,” this tells me that they really don’t want to do what it is they’re talking about. Way too often, we use time as an excuse instead of just saying no and moving on.

If it’s something that’s important to you, make the time to make it happen.

If you are invited to do something that you are truly passionate about, figure out how to make it work.

This may require you to give up something else.

But if it’s what you love, the sacrifice will be worth it.

Take time to reflect on who you are and who you want to become.

This doesn’t just apply to volunteer work. No matter what role you are in, you are still you. As a mother, a father, an employee, a caregiver, a friend, you are still you.

We don’t give up our identity to fill other roles. You are still you and I am still me.

Because of this, it’s important we know who we are.

We need to take the time to reflect on who we are and the difference we are making in the world.

I was recently at a conference where I asked a group of women what it is they want in life. I asked what their plans were after the kids left home and how were they going to move forward in achieving their dreams.

The most common answer I received was, “I don’t know.”

If you don’t know who you are, how are you going to know where you’re going?

My suggestion is to sit down and look at yourself. Think about who you are now, who you were ten years ago, and where you want to be in the future.

There is so much we can do with the time we have left. What are you going to do with the days, months, and years that are ahead of you?

We all have hopes and dreams in life but sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

We’ve got to get out of our own way and allow things to happen.

Take a step back, remind yourself of who you are, and decide where you want to be.

You don’t have to give up yourself.

By giving of yourself, you can open doors and find opportunities that will help you to become exactly who you were meant to be.

That is the beauty of giving of yourself—you find yourself in the process.

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