One of the things I enjoy the most about the nonprofit sector is working with people who are dedicated and passionate about what they’re doing. It takes a lot to reach for a mission and things move fast. And people who are passionate, people who are idealists, tend to thrive. After all, there’s always more to do or something that can be done better.
Sometimes, though, we are so focused on what comes next, what needs to be done, the people that need to be served, in our quest to “Go go go!”, that we overlook and brush aside the good stuff. Yet when we celebrate how far we’ve come, we inspire those around us.
Here at the end of the year is a perfect time to take stock.
The plans have been made, the events are on the calendar, everything that can be squeezed in is on the docket. Before the year turns and the next project starts, take a moment to acknowledge how far you have come.
I’m a big list writer. I love to see what needs to be done. Even more, I love that feeling of accomplishment I get when I cross off an item on my list. So when it’s time to appreciate where I’ve been, I stick to what I love. I make a list. In fact, when taking time to celebrate, I make 2 lists. Here’s how it works:
Yep, list them out. Everything. No matter how large or small. Regardless of if it was completed or in progress, it all gets put on the list of accomplishments. Be strong! No second guessing or keeping things off your list because it didn’t ALL get finished.
Looks good, right? It’s great to see everything that has been done; the things that have moved you forward and brought you closer to your goal. Even things that sometimes seemed like detours or roadblock have contributed to your progress!
Write the Who and How.
The next step is to make a list of who helped make the accomplishments happen and how. Start with the easy ones that stand out in your mind. Then let your memory run wild. Someone offered some advice? Another person volunteered? A donor offered a testimonial that inspired a new program? After a few moments, you’ll be on your way to seeing a huge web of supporters all helping to make it happen.
And now the fun part! It’s time to celebrate – nonprofit style!
Take your lists public! Hang them up in a high traffic area so people can pause and read different entries. Throw a party to celebrate the accomplishments and thank contributors. Send a celebration announcement. Say thank you. Celebrate nonprofit style!
These two lists are chock full of fantastic stories and inspiring information that you can use across all your communications. And adding a sprinkle of celebration throughout the next year will keep spirits high and people proud of the work that’s being done.
And that’s all! Pat yourself and your supporters on the back and just bask in the glow of your accomplishments. Your mission will still be there tomorrow. I guarantee that you will supercharge your work and experience a jolt of energy from everyone around you. Refreshed and rejuvenated, you’ll be rarin’ to go after your celebration.
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Great points! So many of us are constantly driving from one thing to another, then we get a success and we brush it away and move on without taking even a moment to acknowledge it. That’s no way to keep our energy and enthusiasm up…but remembering to celebrate the big and small successes definitely is!
I really love the idea of writing down all of one's accomplishments AND sharing who helped make them possible. We never go it alone and this is a great way to visually call out your support network. I think I could fill a book with all the names of people and organizations that have helped me!
Thanks Emily! Leadership can be lonely and it is a wonderful feeling to see all the people that have helped. You really get that feeling of not going it alone.
Heidi, thanks for these tangible suggestions on acknowledgment and celebration - an often overlooked skill that's important for morale, feedback and development!
This year I took a list of all my team leads and a box of thank you cards. I sat a local coffee shop and wrote a personalized thank you. My assistant and I brain stormed ways to appreciate and she with a coworker created gift baskets. We handed out the baskets at staff lunch/party. It forced my to slow down by taking the box with me.
Sounds like a great celebration, Dave! A social break for you in the coffee shop, some inspirational gift giving all with a party!
This is advice I find hard to follow personally. You're more than 100% right but I struggle with stopping to reflect before charging into the next project. Over the next few weeks I'm going to make these lists.
Truly I struggle too, with acknowledging what has been accomplished. Being an idealist carries a heavy burden of always seeing what is not yet right and what is still to be done. As a leader of a department, committee, organization, or group of volunteers I've always felt even more responsible to celebrate the accomplishments of others and have seen the energy that a celebration creates. When I have been able to appreciate what has been done I've become energized to get back in the fray. I wrote this as a personal reminder to step back myself. I've scheduled myself to write lists next week. :) Maybe we'll be making them at the same time.