3 New Year's Rituals for Nonprofit Professionals To Begin 2018 with Clarity | Beth's Blog

3 New Year’s Rituals for Nonprofit Professionals To Begin 2018 with Clarity

Personal Reflections

I wish you a very happy and healthy 2018!  I used my holiday break as an opportunity for a brief digital detox and time for family, travel and fun.

During the first week of January , I use the quiet time for three New Year’s rituals that help me prepare for the year ahead and identify professional growth areas.  I’ve used these rituals for over a decade and found them helpful.

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 and goal setting as well as to reflect along the way. I also use it as a year in review tool.  In early January, I read through the journal and think about accomplishments:What gave me a sense of purpose and feeling of personal and professional fulfillment? This year I used a new tool recommended by colleague Alexandra Samuel, the “Year Compass, a free downloadable booklet that provides a set of structured reflection questions.

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.  These help guide my professional learning and improvement and maintaining good habits. 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. I’ve used Chris Brogan’s technique for over a decade and found it very helpful in keeping me focused. My colleague, Wendy Harman, was also inspired by Chris Brogan’s technique, but she takes it deeper and includes daily reflection questions.

3) Start A New Journal: I use a large Moleskine (8 x 11.5) for my journal or my “To Do, To Done, Don’t Do, Reflection List.”  I create a few pages in the beginning to write about my themes, what makes me happy, what to improve, and major projects for the year.  I also include my list of work/life habits that I want to maintain or modify. And this year, I’m trying this tip from Sree about writing it in email dated 12/31/18 using FutureMe.Org

Each month I create the task list organized with different color codes for different types of work/life.  The work related tasks also correspond with color codes on my google calendar and my hard drive/google drive files.  I also write a monthly reflection looking at my themes and habits as well as what I accomplished and what could be improved. I use weekly reviews and look-ahead rituals as well as the 18-Minutes A Day Reflection Technique. There are lot of productivity journals out there, for example, “Best Self” and I have reviewed those for inspiration for different checklists, formats, and questions to ask regularly.

Year in Review

Here’s what I learned from looking over my 2017 professional journal:

  • The Happy Healthy Nonprofit:   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.   In early 2017, we completed a two week book tour. I continued an active schedule of teaching workshops on self-care for nonprofit professionals and creating a culture of well being in the nonprofit workplace as well as numerous keynote presentations.
  • Emerging Leaders Playbook: With the generous support of the Packard Foundation and in collaboration with Third Plateau Social Impact Strategies,  we launched the Playbook Web Site that offers grab and go leadership development and culture change activities for nonprofit and emerging leaders. I also facilitated a number of nonprofit staff workshops building on the curriculum.
  • Training:  Workshops, Master Classes and Conference Keynotes: I presented over 80 keynotes, panel sessions, webinars, guest lectures, informal talks, and workshops for nonprofits and foundations in the area of networked leadership, leveraging professional networks in service of mission, digital strategy, crowdfunding, virtual meeting facilitation, leadership development based on the emerging leaders playbook, self-care and creating a culture of well being, training trainers and facilitators, and other topics. This past year was my 4th year as an adjunct professor at Middlebury College.
  • Writing and Blogging: I’ve kept an active publishing schedule for Beth’s Blog, something that I’ve done since 2003!   I wrote guest posts for many nonprofit publications, including the Stanford Innovation Review, Asian NGO, NPEngage, Guidestar, Giving Compass and others.

A great deal of my training work is done face-to-face. I know that might seem old fashioned, but being a trainer and facilitator and in the room with social change leaders is what inspires and energizes me. I almost made it to the 1000K level for United, in part, due to six International trips, including teaching a master class, workshop, and participatory session at the IFC-Asia in Bangkok,  teaching master classes in Brasil and Amsterdam, and spending a week in Finland as a guest of the State Department and US Embassy in Finland working with a wide range of NGOs and social change leaders.

I also had a glorious week-long experience working along side the co-founders of Wake on the Tech2Empower program in Guatemala. I facilitated workshops with volunteers from Bay Area technology companies and we worked with more 50 women’s rights organizations in the region.

Not only did I design and deliver workshops and master classes for capacity building organizations for a range of nonprofits, but I also expanded my practice to internal workshops for nonprofits and foundations on a variety of topics, including workshops on creating the ideal work culture. I also did a far amount of virtual training, including developing a new workshop on virtual facilitation and I also launched a series of micro-learning courses with Nonprofit Ready on personal productivity and organization culture topics.

In December, I was honored to do a Facebook Live broadcast from Facebook Headquarters in London with Lightful CEO Vinay Nair. And in October, I welcomed Emily Goodstein and Saleforce Foundation into my kitchen for a Facebook Live about Giving Tuesday.

And, of course, I continue working on a number of volunteer projects, including serving as a board member to NTEN and LLC and as an adviser to the volunteer facilitators for The Nonprofit Happy Hour and Giving Tuesday and serve on the advisory committee for IFC-Asia and Nonprofit Ready.

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 dashboard, I have walked more than 5 million steps this year and that has helped me accomplish everything above!

My Three Themes: 

Reflection: Reflection is about deep thinking that leads to continuous improvement. It requires carving out time to think, dream, celebrate, give gratitude, and build upon your life and work. It helps you find purpose in life and success in your professional work. Reflection helps energize me and helps me focus. The bulk of my professional work is training and teaching and that requires reflection to remember and document your instructional processes and techniques so you can also train other trainers.

Well Being:  This relates to all the curriculum, writing, and teaching I do around The Happy Healthy Nonprofit and Leadership Development. Well Being is about self, others, and organizational culture. This goes beyond wellness in the workplace, but embraces how people do their work together that is sustainable. I’m also continuing to focus on technology wellness, not only for individuals but in the nonprofit workplace.

Digital Transformation: Digital transformation is about how nonprofits organizations and the way they work is transformed by technology. It isn’t just about the tools, but about how people need to work and think differently. I continue to be interested in teaching “networked leadership skills” which focused on how to use online networks and social media in service of your career, professional learning, or organizational goals. But digital transformation needs a robust digital strategy that understands how new emerging digital technologies will impact the nonprofits mission and the people served and staff. Digital transformation also impacts training and teaching delivery as well as internal collaboration for staff.

When I look back on 2017, it was a very rich and productive year.     And, I expect no less in 2018.  What about you?  What will you accomplish in 2018?


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