Happy, Healthy 2016: What’s Your Theme for the Year? | Beth’s Blog

Happy, Healthy 2016: What’s Your Theme for the Year?


Happy New Year!   I had a wonderful break – filled with fun, family, walking, hiking, reading, quiet, and reflection.   How about you?

Last year, I decided that I didn’t need to wait until New Year’s to establish happy, healthy habits in my life.  For example, just a few weeks ago I decided to kick a bad habit to curb: sleeping with my mobile phone which was disrupting my sleep.   I did it!  I’m now am feeling refreshed and recharged for a new year.

I also have New Year’s rituals that help me prepare for a new year.  These include a review of the year’s accomplishments and focus setting:  Peter Bregman’s  theme for the year, and Chris Brogan’s “My Three Words .”   This year, I’m adding a technique from Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project to establish and track good habits on a monthly basis.

During January, I review my work routines, systems, and rituals to redesign or tweak them to improve productivity.    Rituals and routines have many benefits for your personal effectiveness.   One annual ritual is to create “To Do/Not To Do/Reflection” notebook where I use modified bullet journaling to track my progress.  I write down stuff I won’t do, a “no thanks” list.  In addition to getting the satisfaction of checking off items completed,  I also reflect on how I could improve or streamline my process.

Year in Review

  • Facilitator for Peer Learning Networks and Cohorts:  Most of my work is designing and delivering capacity building projects for cohorts of nonprofits literally all over the world and here in the US.    In addition to the Emerging Leaders Peer Learning project, I continued to serve as the facilitator for a learning network of community foundations who are hosting Giving Days, funded by the Knight Foundation.   I produced four “Advanced Practices Webinars” for the Knight Foundation for Giving Days hosts.  I also taught networked leadership workshops as part of a larger team working with different social change networks.
  • Innovation Lab Facilitation:    For the past few years, I’ve trained in and designed and facilitated innovation labs using the Luma Institute Methods.  This year I facilitated several labs, including one for the Brainerd Foundation to rethink 21st Century Advocacy.   I also facilitated several design labs with nonprofits as part of the research for the Happy Healthy Nonprofit at the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and the National Arts Marketing Project.
  • International and Domestic Training and Speaking: I presented over 50 keynotes, panel sessions, webinars, guest lectures, informal talks, and workshops for nonprofits in the area of integrated networked leadership,  leveraging professional networks in service of mission, social media strategy, learning from data, instructional design and delivery, crowd funding, attention training, walking as work, and other topics.

I keynoted many conferences, including “The Future of Social Media” in London host by Social Misfits Media, Celgene Annual Meeting at ASCO,  National Arts Marketing Project,  Alliance of Nonprofit Management,  Oregon Nonprofit Association,  Iowa University Philanthropy Forum,  Do-Good Data Conference, Arizona Alliance for Nonprofits, CRESSE,  and Patagonia’s Grassroots Tools Conference.

This year took me to Mexico to do an intensive training with Oxfam America’s Latin American Network, London to teach nonprofit leaders Networked Leadership Skills,  Amsterdam to teach a master class, workshop, and Big Room session at the International Fundraising Conference, and to Ukraine to teach workshops for women’s organizations as part of Wake International’s Tech2Empower Program.

In the US,  I gave workshops at nonprofit conferences in Iowa, San Antonio, Iowa, Tahoe,  Palm Beach, Miami, and San Francisco on networked leadership skills.  I was honored to lead a featured season at the United Way Leadership Conference on Networked Leadership and teach many workshops networked leadership skills.  I joined the advisory board of the Leadership Learning Community as part of my continued work in the area of teaching networked leadership skills to nonprofit leaders, especially emerging leaders.

I also facilitated sessions on healthy and productive online and offline meetings for Guide Star, including a sessions about walking meetings at NTEN’s Nonprofit Technology Conference and Online Community Managers Meetup.

When I look back on 2015, it was a very rich and productive year.     And, I expect no less in 2016.

My Theme for the Year: Happy, Healthy

This is the theme of my next book,  The Happy Healthy Nonprofit, with Aliza Sherman.   As an individual, to become happier, healthier, it partially rests with your ability to create and stick to new personal habits around self-care.    I will be using these techniques myself to personally experiment with the advice and ideas we offer and will blog about what am learning.     In fact, you can join along this month for the January Nonprofit Blog Carnival.

One happy, healthy habit I started in Oct, 2013,  was to integrate more movement into my work day.  I strapped on a Fitbit and started walking 15,000 steps a day.  I walked away 40 pounds, but something else happened.  I discovered that walking is an important part of my work process- it helps me think, it helps me develop professional relationships, and can help when I am leading trainings.      I will continue to blog about walking as work and do workshops.

But as we all know, changing personal habits isn’t easy for a lot of people.   And, to sustain happy, healthy ways of working in nonprofits, the burden can’t totally rest on the backs of individuals.   Self-care in a nonprofit organization is the responsibility of both the individual staff person and the organization.  Organizations must support staffs’ self-care efforts through clearly articulate values, policies, and programs.  Even better is to have self-care so finely embedded in the nonprofit’s culture that there is not a need for a separate program, it is simply part of the way the organization works.  So, I am very focused on discovering examples of Happy, Healthy Nonprofits and their secrets for success.

If you want to hear some of our ideas about the topic, join us for the Happy, Healthy Nonprofit Webinar hosted by Wild Apricot on January 14th. You can find out more and register here.

My Three Words

Teaching:  Teaching is my passion which is a good thing because my consulting work is designing and facilitating capacity building and training programs.   I will continue exploring and writing about assessment, curriculum development, facilitation, evaluation, and documentation.    I am looking forward to teaching workshops based on the ideas in new book, Happy Healthy Nonprofit and will be facilitating workshops at SXSW and the Nonprofit Technology Conference.

Learning:   Learning is the root of everything – it keeps you curious, improving, healthy, and happy.     I’ve been working in the nonprofit sector for 35 years and learning keeps me going.      But, it isn’t just about learning new techniques.   When you’ve been doing what you do for a long time, it is also about unlearning (being mindful when bad habits creep in and changing them) and relearning what you have learned or updating it or reinventing it.

Networked Leadership Skills: Okay, that isn’t one word, but I couldn’t capture this idea in one word.   But I continue to be interested in teaching “networked leadership skills” which how to use online networks and the Internet in service of your career, professional learning, or organizational goals.   I’ve also broadened it a bit to encompass leadership skills for emerging leaders based on my work this past year.    I am teaching several workshops and facilitating peer cohorts on this subject matter and will continue writing about it on my blog.

I wish all my readers and colleagues a very happy and healthy 2016!

What is your theme for 2016?  What healthy habits will you create in 2016?

9 Responses

  1. Did I tell you lately how amazing you are?

  2. Rosi Amador says:

    Beth, from the sound of it, you were plenty busy in 2015, so I’m happy for you that you set yourself up for happiness and health in 2016! My word of the year is “Listen”, so that rather than go, go, go towards all my goals and intentions I can fine tune my own intuition and listen more deeply to everyone in my life who helps me with my professional life as a bilingual voiceover artist and musician as well as my family and loved ones. Since I’m usually externally focused, this is a big challenge for me and one I’m embracing with some trepidation and excitement. Congrats on your publications and speaking engagements! All best for 2016!

  3. Norman Reiss says:

    Congrats – keep up the great work, Beth

  4. Beth says:

    Aliza, right back at you!! Love working with you

  5. Beth says:

    Rosi and Norman, happy healthy new year to you both!

  6. Thanks for sharing this one.

  7. Julio Rivera says:

    HI Beth,

    Thanks for such thought provoking post. As we are entering the second quarter of 2016, I think that my theme needs to be : Patience, Rome was not built in a day! There are so many things that one must do as a freelancer (My wife and I are Spanish Voice Over actors) that sometimes is overwheming. We just need to stay healthy and focus on small , attainable steps to realize our dreams.

    Warmest Regards!

    Julio Rivera

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