Canned foods have a shelf life. Fresh fruit and meat will spoil after a certain number of days. Plants and flowers have certain seasons of growth. Some things in life run their course, and that's okay. Not everything lasts forever. Relationships will mature and change, they won't always be exactly the same as they used to be. Even friendships will go through cycles, some will last and some will not.
I've noticed through my job and various volunteer organizations that even some projects have life spans. I've been part of different service and outreach groups over the years that had a lot of momentum for a long time, then things changed. Life changes. Your core group of volunteers move through different phases of their lives. The economy changes, ultimately limiting the funding that the projects need. Sometimes the passion or interest just isn't there anymore. When that happens, it is okay. It doesn't mean that the project is no longer good or isn't serving a purpose. It can be compared to pruning a plant. Sometimes you need to trim back the stagnant growth in order to make way for new and better growth.
Projects need to be backed by people who have the right motivation and passion. We are all human. Our responsibilities, our goals, and the amount of time we have to offer changes (sometimes all in the same day). When this happens we need to know that it's okay for us to step back and make way for someone new to jump in. It doesn't mean we don't believe in the project or the relationship any more, it just means that our perspective and what we feel we can offer has changed. Often when I've done something for a long time I feel like I am somehow abandoning it when I have to step back, when in reality I am not. If the project is meant to continue, it will. If the friendship is meant to stay strong, it will. I can only accept responsibility for my own actions. Projects and relationships involve more than just me. They require commitment and involvement from others as well. Those other people will take responsibility for their choices, as I have for my own.
Things will work out in the end. If you ever feel overwhelmed, overloaded, or over-extended ... know that it is okay to step back and take a breather. Perhaps your heart is leading you towards a new project, something that you feel a renewed sense of passion for. It is okay to put yourself and your needs first. You can't give more of yourself than you have to offer. It's better to feel that you've done something well and with excitement than continue to do something your heart is no longer in to.
Volunteering is something I have always felt passionate about, but what I have accomplished and where I have done it does change with time. Volunteering is part of my core being. Volunteers should never be overlooked or underappreciated. Without us, a lot of things would never get done. Some volunteer opportunities will run their course, and that is okay. New opportunities will present themselves at the right time. Something you have moved on from may be the exact starting point that someone else is looking for.
When is the last time you gave in to the urge to step back from a volunteer role?
Did things still move forward without you?
Did you find something new that you could feel excited about?