3 New Year's Rituals for Nonprofits That Can Boost Professional Success | Beth's Blog

3 New Year’s Rituals for Nonprofits That Can Boost Professional Success

Personal Productivity

I would like to wish all my readers, colleagues, and friends a happy new year!   I had a fantastic break, including a family vacation in Hawaii, walking, hiking, quiet, and reflection.  How about you?

But before jumping into the daily grind, during the first week of January I use the quiet time to engage in several New Year’s rituals that help me prepare for the year ahead and identify professional growth areas.    My rituals include:

1) Review the Year: For as long as I can remember, I have kept an annual professional journal, using a variation of bullet journal technique. I call it my “To Do, To Done, Don’t Do, Reflection List.”  I use it for planning my work flow for the day, week, month, and quarter and to reflect along the way. I also use it as a year in review tool.  In early January, I read through the year’s journal and think about accomplishments:What gave me a sense of purpose and feeling of professional fulfillment? I also look at what was missing or where I was not so happy or made mistakes.  I look for patterns.

2) Identify “My Three Themes”: I do a combination of Peter Bregman’s  theme for the year, and Chris Brogan’s “My Three Words.”     Chris Brogan’s ritual suggests selecting three words, but I modify it by articulating key themes.  I don’t set goals, but use the themes to guide the type of work I will take on, what I want to write about on my blog as well as my professional reading and professional development.  The themes are less about exploring something new, but to commit to continuous learning and improvement. When you have worked in a field a long time (for me it has been over 3 decades), you have to keep an open mind about remembering and reflecting on what you have heard before — looking at as if it was new.

3) Start A New Journal: As I mentioned above, I keep an annual professional journal, part planner and part reflection tool. I use the large Moleskine (8 x 11.5). I transfer the left over tasks from previous year’s journal – only those from December that need to be done. I create a few pages in the beginning to write about my themes, what makes me happy, and what to improve.  I also write a list of work habits that I want to maintain or modify.  I have different color codes for different types of work that also correspond with color codes on my google calendar and my hard drive/google drive files.

Year in Review

  • Published Book Three:   In 2016, I published “The Happy Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout,” with co-author Aliza Sherman.   The book was well received and was #1 on Amazon’s Nonprofit Books many times throughout October-December as we presented dozens online webinars and guest posts and articles.   Our book tour starts at the end of January, so if you are in San Francisco, Oakland, Boston, NYC, or Washington, DC, please join us.
  • Emerging Leaders Playbook:   With the generous support of the Packard Foundation and in collaboration with Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies,  we wrote and published the Emerging Leaders Playbook last year, along with facilitating a peer learning cohort with colleague Stephanie Rudat.  For 2017, we be launching an online site that includes the content and facilitator guides so that any nonprofit or trainer can provide leadership development for emerging nonprofit leaders.   Stay tuned for more information in 2017, but I will be very busy writing facilitator process guides based on my decades of experience as a trainer and sharing that on this blog.
  • 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 2016, I completed my work as facilitator for a learning network of community foundations who are hosting Giving Days, funded by the Knight Foundation. It is also a pivotal year for many community foundations as they consider whether to ramp up or wind down giving day initiatives in their communities.
  • 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 several for the Knight Foundation Arts Program to learn about the local arts ecosystem in four cities, including Philadelphia, San Jose, Charlotte, and Macon.
  • International and Domestic Training and Speaking: I presented over 50 keynotes, panel sessions, webinars, guest lectures, informal talks, and workshops for nonprofits, community foundations, and foundations in the area of networked leadership, leveraging professional networks in service of mission, digital strategy, leadership development based on the emerging leaders playbook, self-care and creating a culture of well being, training trainers and facilitators, and other topics.

I keynoted many conferences, including ConnectVA, American Marketing Association Nonprofit Conference, the Institute of Fundraising in London, and others.  This past year took me to London to teach nonprofit leaders at workshops on digital strategy hosted by LinkedIn and Social Misfits, and to Cambodia to teach a series of workshops for Women’s Rights NGOs hosted by Wake International.

In the US,  I gave workshops at nonprofit conferences in North Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Missouri, California and at SXSW.  I also facilitated leadership and digital strategy workshops for the United Way Leadership Conference,  Stanford University Nonprofit Management Institute, Knight Digital Media Learning Seminar, and Celgene’s Annual Meeting. I facilitated workshops for nonprofits in Kansas City supported by Kauffman Foundation where I also designed and facilitated networked leadership professional development internally.    I facilitated a workshop to train emerging leaders on coaching skills at the YNPN Annual Summit and facilitated  Happy Healthy Nonprofit Workshops, including one for the Americans for the Arts National Conference and Changemaker Camp.  I also taught a workshop for social startups at Singularity University here in Mountain, View on how to create a Happy Healthy Start Up Culture.

I also continued my position as Adjunct Professor  teaching a graduate course at Middlebury College/Monterrey Institute for International Education.  I teach a seminar course on integrated social media strategy for international nonprofits and a session for students to learn how they leverage their professional networks for career and learning in a flexible classroom space.

In order to accomplish as much as possible, I have lived many of the ideas around self-care that in our book, The Happy Healthy Nonprofit.  As part of my quest to incorporate movement as work, according to my Fitbit, I have walked more than 5 million steps this year and accomplish everything above!

My Three Themes: 

Resilience:   This theme is related to all the writing, curriculum development, and instruction that I will do this year based on my work on the Emerging Leaders Playbook and The Happy Healthy Nonprofit.

Instructional Design and Facilitation:  I love teaching and exploring different ways help nonprofit professionals learn.   The work I’m doing for the Emerging Leaders Playbook this to help train other trainers is fantastic opportunity to reflect, remember, and document facilitation processes and techniques.

Networked leadership/digital strategy:   I continue to be interested in teaching “networked leadership skills” which focused on how to use online networks and the Internet in service of your career, professional learning, or organizational goals. But an effective leadership strategy is also dependent on a robust digital strategy that not only uses social media effectively, but incorporate mobile and new emerging digital technologies.

When I look back on 2016, it was a very rich and productive year.     And, I expect no less in 2017.  What about you?  What will you accomplish in 2017?


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