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“I don’t have the time to get involved.” We don’t buy it.

You want to know what stops me in my tracks? Hearing someone say, “I don’t have time to give back or make a difference.”

Okay, let’s be honest—it makes me angry.

Just this past weekend I was chatting with a colleague about The Facing Project, and she interrupted to say:

“I wish I could be more involved and do something really powerful in my community, but I don’t have the time. With a five-year-old and working toward full professor, I barely have time to brush my teeth. What’s it like to have the time to start something like Facing?”

With a slight bend I felt the pencil between my fingers snap. I fumbled through my hair, sheepishly grinned and started talking about maximizing opportunities, finding a partner who equals you out, knowing how to use your skills and passion for good.  .  .

But in my head I kept hearing myself say.  .  .

“Oh, sure, lady. I’ve found some special portal that’s allowed me to advance past space and time. It’s amazing. I mean, it will totally blow your mind the secrets I’ve unlocked within the universe.”

And then I smiled and asked her if she knew of a need in her community that could easily tie into her work as a physical therapist and educator so she could do all of the things I mentioned above. (No, not the time travel part!)

You see, I don’t have loads of extra time in my life. I’m a husband, I have a career, I write, I run. . .I’m just as busy as anyone else. We’re all busy in our own ways. I won’t get into my long list of other things that keep me busy and compare my life to others—that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about making the time to be engaged in your community if you want to be, and saying you don’t have enough time isn’t an excuse. I don’t buy it. Not if you truly want to find ways to plug in.

Here’s how it’s worked for me.

I’ve spent more than a decade connecting people together within their communities to make a difference. My mission is connecting people and strengthening communities, and I decided long ago I want to live my life in a way that continues to give back to my community and beyond. I’ve been able to do that through capitalizing on my career path, skills, and passions to ensure I have enough time to remain sane. I’ve had an interest in being an educator and community organizer since graduate school, so it was a natural transition to create a path with Indiana Campus Compact where I work with faculty and college students across the state of Indiana who are creating their own roadmaps to engagement. And I’ve had a passion for writing and telling stories since childhood, which made it a no brainer when Kelsey and I merged our like-minded talents to create The Facing Project.

So when I get asked about how I find time, my answer is always about maximization. Since my interests and passions combine with how I’m engaged in communities, I’m able to find the time.

In our talks, Kelsey and I always share with the audience that they have to find their super power—what makes them tick, what they’re good at; their passion. Once that’s discovered, anyone can set the world on fire.

And if you want to give back to your community and that’s part of the flame, not having the time is no longer an option.

If you read this and have found your super power, we want to hear about it. How are you using what you’re good at to impact your community? Tell us about it in the comments below.

If you’re not involved but have been itching to do so, here are some things to consider:

  • Are you a writer, community organizer, educator, or passionate about storytelling and connecting people? Check out how to start your own Facing Project.
  • Are you a college student or faculty member considering how to use your discipline for the common good? Connect with your state Campus Compact office.
  • Are you trying to still figure out what your thing may be? Take a peek at Volunteer Match.

Go set the world on fire! But please stop complaining about time.

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