But today I want to suggest something extracurricular that is guaranteed to make you feel more in control – and generally, better. This past Thursday, my family and I jumped in the car and drove from our suburban home to a Salvation Army facility in Harlem. We then joined other volunteers in the kitchen working to dish out hundreds of traditional Thanksgiving meals. I was assigned to the staging area behind the kitchen where I spent five hours lighting Sterno, shifting large trays of stuffing and turkey, and providing warm pans to the kitchen ovens so the food being served would be piping hot. It felt like 95 degrees and it was a helluva workout. It was low tech and very individualized, so I consistently met the challenge hour after hour – and sneaked into the gymnasium several times to see the visible result of my efforts in the smiling contentedness of those needy families who otherwise would have gone hungry. Needless to say, it was very rewarding, and like all manual tasks, provided immediate gratification – and a true sense of “control.”
With another round of holidays coming – and winter around the corner – there will be ample opportunities for you to volunteer.
Food drives, clothing drives, holiday meals for the needy, the homeless, and the homebound. With the Internet, it is easier than ever to identify these kinds of opportunities – down to the street corner.
Whether you are unemployed – which should leave you ample flexibility to respond – or gainfully working, the satisfaction and sense of control derived from doing volunteer work is hard to match. And the more defined the “task” the more defined the reward, so pay attention to the details and try to volunteer for specific labor.
I guarantee it will improve your holidays and set you up for a productive 2010.
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Erik Sorenson is CEO of Vault, the Web’s most comprehensive resource for career management and job search intelligence. Vault provides top talent with the insider information they need to make critical career decisions. An Emmy award-winning media industry veteran, Erik served as president of the MSNBC cable news channel through 2004. His experience spans radio, local and network broadcast television, cable and syndicated TV, and the Web.
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