Do Something For Free



InTheMiddleMediumEmployee satisfaction ratings in the US show a sustained decrease in employee job satisfaction and workplace engagement.  Only a minority of employees – roughly 30% – find their jobs fulfilling.  This leaves 70% of the US workforce unfulfilled in a job that consumes about 47% of the waking work week.

Many people feel stuck.  The reality is you may actually be stuck.  If you aren’t ready or able to jump careers you may find solace in an investment of your time where you do something for free.  What’s the harm in trying?  There really isn’t a down side.

The point of this commitment is to allow yourself to grow and develop outside of your main job.  You aren’t trying to start a side business and you aren’t trying to have extra cash.  You are exploring an interest without pressure.  At the end, you will have improved your life and will have a gift that may improve at least one other person’s life.

Why do it

  • Freedom – Give yourself permission to pursue something you enjoy or to try something new
  • Learning – By focusing on a new activity you’ll learn new skills and may learn something about yourself
  • Fun – Doing something you want without the pressure of making it a source of income will lower stress and be fun

What you need

  • Inspiration (Your goal) – Revisit an interest you’ve ignored.  Add something to your community.  Solve a problem.
  • Commitment – You need to dedicate yourself to the project and find motivation from your goal.  Include your family and friends.  At some point you’ll need support and encouragement.
  • Constraints
    • Time:  Set up a regular schedule and stick to it.  Most people will do better managing 15-30 minutes per day than 2-3 hours once per week.  The nature of your goal drives the schedule.
    • Money:  Give yourself a small budget.  What can you afford?  Maybe give up some fun money for your goal?
    • Location:  Find a space where you can pursue your goal.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  Use your kitchen table.  Reclaim your garage.  Become a regular at a coffee shop.
    • Goal:  Keep focused on your purpose to produce something you can give away.

How you may benefit

  • Decreased stress
  • Increased creativity
  • Sense of purpose

How others may benefit

  • Your family and friends may be inspired
  • Your employer may have a more engaged employee
  • Your coworkers may have a more positive peer
  • The receiver(s) of your gift will have something for free that may add something good to life

How to start

This shouldn’t be a long, contemplative process.  Follow your gut.  Talk to those closest to you.  Bounce ideas off people you trust.  Select one idea and go for it.

Final thoughts

Make 2014 the year you do something for free.

Yesterday was the second annual Giving Tuesday.  That is a wonderful free idea that has inspired millions of people to give.  From a commitment perspecitve it’s fairly easy to give financially to charity.  It’s moderately difficult to volunteer your time for one.  It’s difficult to commit to do something for a year for free.  You need to approach this as a project and set your expectation to enjoying the experience.  By the end of the year give away whatever you have done.


  • Jono Hey’s Sketchplanations is a commitment to explaining something new in a single sketch every day for a year.
  • The Seckler’s founded Charley’s Fund as a way to bring awareness to and fight Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  They started it and have seen it grow into a large self-sustaining organization.
  • My sons take care of an elderly neighbor’s yard year round without pay.

You have 3 weeks until 2014.  That’s ample time to set up what you need to begin in January.  Go for it!

Please email me with what you decide to do.

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