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The Slacker's Guide To Success -- Step Five: Hobbies and Volunteering

If you were to ask a young person in their teens or 20s where they really love being, most would shout out in unison: "I really love my room!" The following exercise is to help create portable "boxes of safety" in the real world.
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This is the fifth installment of The Slacker's Guide To Success, based on my work with teens, young adults and their families. The introduction can be found here. The other chapters are available here.

If you were to ask a young person in their teens or 20s where they really love being, most would shout out in unison: "I really love my room!" What they have done, in effect, is create a "box of safety" which is both a good thing and a bad thing. The bad part is they are isolated, making it a little like the universe outside Dr. Who's telephone booth when he is whirling around. The good thing about the box of safety it that they do have at least one place that they really do feel safe. The advantage of that is, once someone feels safe in one place, there is the possibility to get them to feel safe in other places.

The following exercise is to help create portable "boxes of safety" in the real world.

If you have followed the past four steps of this 13-step success process, you have already begun to develop the personal strengths and successes that having a personal daily routine can offer you.

The next challenges are then;

1) taking this personal routine out into the world

2) interacting with others in empowered ways

3) adhering to the daily routine while embracing the distractions that come "out there", as well as the extra daily work which will be expected

4) engaging the "world out there" successfully and safely.


I strongly suggest to anyone trying this next step that it include one or both of the following; hobbies and volunteering. By hobbies, I would suggest generative ones; music, dancing, martial arts, a book club, comedy troupes, etc. So that would leave out the magic card weekly marathon in a basement covered in a green haze.

The volunteering can be done in one of two ways;

a) helping people less fortunate than yourself

b) working in an area that you are interested in but don't have the necessary credentials or experience to get "a real job" in.

Generative Hobbies; join a group engaged in your generative hobby (not magic cards etc.,) and commit to being there once or twice a week. Make sure the schedule is one you can do successfully on an ongoing basis. Find out what is required of you (in music, for example, you'll have to know the music well enough to hold your own performing the songs) and how much time you would need to invest at home daily (15 to 30 minutes is a good amount of time in general). Once you have all the pieces required to embrace this hobby, you are on the way to adding something that will give you a new box of safety. One wherever your hobby takes you.

Volunteering as an act of giving: do some research on local groups that help people in a way that you find meaningful. Look for places that give some sort of training (one volunteer group I joined gave the volunteers a fantastic course on active listening which I use to this day).

Volunteering as an apprenticeship; there are so many wrong ways to volunteer in for-profit organizations. The secret to doing it successfully is to:

a) choose an area that truly fascinates you and that you would consider as a vocation.

b) Find out the interests of the people you will be speaking to.

c) Be sure to think about what you can bring to your volunteer position and what benefit they will get from it.

d) If they act like they are doing you a favour -- don't go there!

Adding these disciplines to your daily routines will allow you to try all of your best new and previous skills;


doing your best when you don't feel like it and the novelty has worn off;

dealing with challenging people;

dealing with engaging people (either can throw you off);

and keeping your daily routine when things get a little nuts "out there."

This becomes your hero's journey, your adventure out into the real world and the portable box of safety is the one you build by growing character and doing what is required one day at a time. By the way, it feels great (but don't let it get around).

"A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints... Wilfred Peterson

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