As a nonprofit leader, when was the last time you planned how you wanted to feel? That is a crazy notion, isn't it? However, if you consider how you want to feel and attach goals to those feelings you desire, you will find that you have a way different year ahead of you!
Start by looking over the past year for lessons
In this post, I encouraged you to look back over the past year for the lessons you learned. Pausing and then pondering how things turned out in different situations allows you to collect ideas for what you want to do differently in the future.
If you want different results, then you need to do something else. The strategic review of the past year in this post will help you highlight areas of your life that you want to change.
Next, look ahead to choose your feelings
Now that you have taken a look back, it's time to pivot and look forward. The backward review and peering into the future are part of laying a solid foundation before setting goals for the new year.
As you inspect what might unfold in the new year, I want you to consider how you want to feel. Instead of starting by thinking about what you want to achieve or what you are hoping to accomplish, I want you to think about your feelings first.
It may be helpful to note what you DON'T want
Looking at the past year, you can identify what you don't want, and it's an excellent place to start. If you are like most women leading in the nonprofit sector, you know what you don't want:
Then, it's time to shift
But if not that, then what? That's the easy part. We complain, grumble and moan about what we don't want. However, continuing that cycle of what you don't want in your head keeps you stuck on the negative. Instead, it would be best if you look for something different.
Consider the experience you DO want
Consider for a moment what feelings and experiences you want in the coming year. Here are some examples of what feelings you may be looking for:
Hold off on developing goals
If your mind keeps going to goals, step back from them for a bit. Setting goals are important, and we will get there. But the goal is only part of the picture. When we only identify the target, we miss the importance of attaining that.
When you ask yourself what you want to accomplish a goal or achieve, it's about the feeling you will get as a result of completing it.
It matters because it's doing or achieving something that will produce a certain feeling. So it's that feeling that I want you to focus on now.
Here are some examples
A goal that so many identify each year is to become healthier. So what difference does it make if you lose weight or change your eating habits?
Imagine that you want to do something different at work, return to school, apply for a new position or start a new project. Consider that outcome for a moment and think about what the feeling is that you are longing for.
Changing jobs will make you feel what?
Where do you already feel that?
The second part of this exercise is to consider the list of feelings you've identified. Then, look at where you experienced those feelings now.
Combine the lessons learned and feelings desired
Pulling these two concepts together (lessons + feelings) looks like this:
Looking back and then ahead
When you pull out lessons learned and pair them with the desired feelings you have for the future, you are in a great place to set goals for the future.
First, take the time to let these two ideas sit with you in the next few days.
Then, come back to them a few times. Journal some thoughts about them. Talk to others in your life about it as well. Slowing down to get a handle on your life intentionally will put you back in the driver's seat.
Finally, you'll be able to create goals that help you create your future rather than just watch it unfold!
Complete your Annual Analysis
Learn more about completing your Annual Analysis here
As the busyness of the season ramps up, you not only have gifts to buy, baking to do and decorating to complete, but you also have all of that stuff at your programs too!
PROBLEM: Survival mode
If you aren't careful, you'll end up in survival mode.
Survival mode can show up in your body too...It shows up as...
✏️ Surviving to Thriving Continuum GUIDE: If you are curious about where you land on the Surviving to Thriving continuum, grab this guide
You need to take care of yourself; yes, you have time!
To fend off burnout this holiday season, you must take care of yourself throughout the day. To do that, you need to manage your energy.
We can't change how many hours are in a day, but we can manage our energy because it's often our energy drained.
Four energy pots are described in The Way We're Working Isn't Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance. Of course, for optimal performance, these energy pots would be full. But that may not be a realistic option for you right now. But can you add a bit to one of them to get you through the day and the season?
This is a short-term strategy.
It's a temporary fix until you have time for a deeper charge. But it will keep you from falling apart, burning out and resenting Christmas.
Take time to consider each pot of energy and how full or empty it is. Then... consider how to put something back into it, in a little
5 minutes self-care strategy
Take a look at each area and ask yourself
Physical energy is the foundation of wellness. It includes everything from how you eat, move and sleep.
If this pot is drained, try one of these things to put a bit of energy back into this pot
Emotional energy is about how you are feeling. So it's your emotions and your moods.
If this pot is feeling drained or the emotions are about to boil over, try one of these to put things back in balance.
Yes, these should probably be somewhere private, but they can be done in short bits of time to take the edge off. Go to the bathroom and literally shake your arms and butt, shaking off the icky feelings. Put headphones in and crank up a song that shifts your mood. Sit in your car and let yourself cry for a moment.
Mental energy is about your ability to focus your thoughts.
If this pot is drained and you are having trouble focusing or getting things done, try one of these suggestions to bring back some mental clarity.
Spiritual energy is your connection to something bigger than yourself, your purpose and alignment with your values.
If this pot is drained and you feel a loss of meaning in the season, your work or your life, try one of these suggestions to put things back in perspective.
The 5 min holiday self-care strategy for the busy nonprofit leader at Christmas
Take a look at each area and ask yourself
Find Your Christmas Joy Returning
Several years ago, I was crying at the beginning of December because it was time to write my Christmas newsletter, and I couldn't find it in me to do it. Try as I might, I couldn't get into it. I was already feeling the Christmas Blues start to wash over me. That just made it 10 times worse.
Have you felt you've been "failing" at Christmas?
Keep reading to switch that feeling up fast!
Have you felt you've been "failing" at Christmas?
I'd sent out my letter the week after Christmas the year before. I didn't want to do that again. I felt like I was "failing at Christmas." Maybe you've felt you've been failing at Christmas too!
When I feel that sense of failure or inadequacy hit me, I turn to self-reflection. What the heck is going on Kathy?
This is how I deal with the "ugh" feelingsI did what I always do when I'm struggling and can't find a way out. I journaled about it. Not just once but for several days. After deep soul searching, I finally gave myself permission to stop writing a Christmas letter. What a relief!
That decision took a huge weight off of my shoulders! Following that, I made a few other decisions:
It took away my Christmas blues!
Since that first decision and subsequent others, I've found that Christmas feels less heavy, in fact, maybe not heavy at all...perhaps even joyous!
I don't know if you can read between the lines or perhaps are seeing some parallels in your life, but more than finding "the meaning of Christmas," I found my values.
I was wrong about my top value
I used to think family was my top value. It's not.
So what has?
Values are not just words...they have meaning
Let me back up a minute and tell you about values. We often think of values as words.
An example of how you might define your values
Let's look at security for a minute:
Can you explain what your values mean to you?
Back to my story!
My top value:
As I've explored my values over the last few years, I've realized that my top value is not family, as I indicated earlier, although I was sure it was! Instead, my top value is excellence.
Here's the thing, when I was trying to "do it all" I was excelling at nothing!
What this means for you
As you finish this year off and begin next year, I encourage you to do the work of exploring your values. Not 3 words on a paper, but paragraphs and bullet points and lists. This exploration needs to include feelings and body sensations. When do you know that you are out of alignment with your values and what actions or inactions will bring you back?
When you do this work, you'll spend more of your life living from your values and feeling the inner peace and joy from knowing you honour what is truly important to you!
Do you set personal leadership goals for each year?
The most effective leaders have personal leadership goals that drive them throughout the year. These aren't the organization's goals for you. Instead, they are your goals that drive the type of leader you are becoming.
You probably aren't thinking about your goals quite yet. Instead, gifts, parties, baking and work deadlines likely have your attention these days. I get it!
👉 However, December is the perfect time to let the last year percolate in your mind. That way, you'll have some things in mind when it is time to sit down and work on your goals for next year.
We know that typical goals fail
Most of us wait until the end of December or the beginning of January to start thinking about setting goals. The problem with waiting until then is that we often jump into goal setting with whatever is on our minds at the beginning of the new year. And for most of us, overeating and overspending are top of mind.
The most popular New Years' Resolutions are about weight loss and reducing debt. AND…most New Year's resolutions are dropped within a couple of weeks, and goals are forgotten by February. Often that is because we set the same goals half the world does every January.
🎯 However, as a leader who wants to achieve excellence and live a somewhat balanced life, you need goals specifically for you and your situation.
To create more impactful goals that will develop you as a strong leader, you need to be more intentional.
Lay the Groundwork for Success Next Year
If you want to be more successful with your leadership goals next year, start thinking about laying the foundation for goal setting now. This groundwork will help you identify the goals that will impact you most and how to achieve those goals.
This coming week, start to look back over the past year. Scan events, relationships and experiences for the lessons you've learned.
This review is not a time to judge or beat yourself up. Instead, it is a nonjudgmental observation. So, be curious as you look back.
Examples of lessons you may have learned
🔲 Looking back, you might see that the few times you had time to yourself were when you consciously created it. For example, you booked an afternoon off or got up earlier to journal.
🔲 When you review the past year, you may notice certain calmer and more relaxed times. However, by digging deeper, you may see that you were doing your yoga regularly in those times.
🔲 Looking back, you may have noticed times of better productivity and focus. When you get curious about what was going on then, you may see you were sleeping better.
Make a note of your discoveries
Choose whatever method works for you as you have some realizations or ah-has. I'm a sticky note kind of gal. I'll jot it down when something comes to me on a sticky note. They'll pile up over several weeks whenever something new comes to mind. Then, when it's time to do my review and set goals, I'll have all of those random but so very important lessons and ah has to go review and use them as information to guide me going into the new year.
You could use a notes app on your phone, a Google doc, or a notebook. The idea is to have something easily accessible to capture realizations on the fly.
❎ You aren't committing to anything.
✅ Instead, you are simply noting insights.
Keep Curiously Looking Back
Let this idea of 'lesson's learned" simmer in the background for the coming weeks. Write down the lessons you notice as you go back over the past year. They will help you when you start to define your goals next year.
You may want to complete a deeper review of the past year
Students in my membership site, The Training Library, often schedule time between Christmas and the New Year to complete their Annual Analysis.
Your Annual Analysis is an in-depth review of the inner growth of your leadership. When you complete your Annual Analysis, you'll:
✅ Discover how effective your growth and development plan has been over the last year
✅ Feel pride as you acknowledge your achievements, inner growth, development and progress
✅ Identify the next steps for your continued path toward excellence.
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Women leaders often hit a point where they find themselves in over their heads and wondering if they have what it takes to lead.