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Remembering the Reasons and Values Behind Our Work

The work life of an AmeriCorps member can be described as an exhilarating, beautiful, and meaningful experience filled with many learning opportunities throughout. Yet there is a shared fundamental understanding that this journey in which we embark upon has at its core a true sense of the word challenge and all the many different meanings that lie within such a wide-reaching concept. Having gone through the first few months in this role as a City Year, experience has gifted upon me new insights on the more intricate difficulties that are carried within the responsibilities of this role.

Sometimes the abundance of these responsibilities can shelter the perception of our values which uphold the blueprint of our work in City Year as a whole. In dire times of need, struggling ACM’s (AmeriCorps Members) might find it helpful to look back towards the roots of our work and as well their own main motivators such as their personal mission statements. However, the average day of work for our fellow ACM’s is filled with direct and purposeful tasks set aside for nearly every minute of the day. So, looking towards one’s own personal mission statement might be perceived as too tiring or time wasting to do. So, the question seems to be: How do we remind ourselves of the whys of our work without sacrificing too much time away from our busy workdays? What might be the easiest route in accomplishing the practice of linking ourselves back to the reasons behind our mission is to engage oneself in a quick mindfulness check whenever the time is available during and throughout the day. However inconsequential these activities may seem, there is nothing to lose in giving new and unfamiliar things a first look and ‘feeling for the groove’ in these, what could possibly be, super cool groovy little self-care gems! Here are some ways that ACM’s can practice some potentially useful and as well time efficient mindfulness activities throughout their workdays.

  1. Red Jacket Dedication

What might come immediately to mind to some ACM’s is our red jacket dedications. These are little cards that sit in a pocket on the inside of our iconic red jacket bombers resting right on top of our hearts. These cards are where we write down the name of a person or idea that we dedicate our year of service to.

  1. Ten Second Check

One simple practice to take advantage of is a quick ten second check in with oneself. It simply goes as such; breathe in for five seconds and filling your lungs as much as you can. While doing this let yourself feel your immediate emotions of your current state, accept that emotions you are feeling. The next five seconds breathe deeply out exhaling all the air within your lungs and releasing the tension of pressure. Attempt to connect very briefly to the significance of our work.

  1. Declaratives

These are simply quick one-word reminders of ACM’s motivations for contributing to this service we provide. Usually it should be an anchor word or phrase that is very specific to a certain memory that reinvigorates one’s own energy and mental stamina throughout the day. Usually it helps to go one step further and connect the word to our mission as an association.

However small and potentially meaningless these practices may seem, it looks as though, from my own personal experiences, it is the small moments you have with yourself that give you that little spark of energy you need to continue to give your service your all. We need to remember the importance of holding fast to our personal values and City Year values since it can become increasingly possible to let the pace of everyday work distract us from our personal and cultural reasons and values. It may seem daunting to think about the big picture ideas of our mission but taking these small moments to remember the innate worth and meaning in our work will help us to continue our commitment to the communities we serve. The skill of being able to link the main reasons and values behind our work towards the smaller actions we take every day is an integral part of the fundamental’s within this job and it is as well just as crucial to fully understand the importance of this skill so as to not become burned out by the needs of this service. Hopefully these small mindfulness checks can help ACM’s contribute towards that skill and build an essential interpersonal self-care mindset.

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