I want to share a confession. During my days as an Executive Director, I would get VERY excited about setting goals for the New Year.
I would get a new planner, mark important dates, and plan for my professional development. I would have conversations with board members, my staff, donors, and volunteers, and feel so energized about all the great things we would accomplish in year ahead. But, here’s the thing- often times that excitement would start getting squashed after a month or so when I would find myself spending too much time putting out fires, getting bogged down in the details of daily operations, dealing with an unattainable to-do list, and feeling burnt out from the long days I was spending in the office. My long-term goals started feeling more out of reach.
Does this sound familiar?
Yes? You are not alone.
Here are four tips to help you stay on track and work towards achieving those big goals in 2022:
1. Delegate. If you are an ED, this is one of the most powerful steps you can take to ensure your focus stays on critical things specific to your role like holding the organizational vision, fostering relationships with donors, community partners, & stakeholders, and inspiring your staff and board. I know so many nonprofits are dealing with limited resources and EDs take on additional roles out of a feeling of necessity. If this is the case, I encourage you to look at hiring a contractor for specific functions like marketing, HR, and bookkeeping. Delegating is hard and yet essential to staying focused and ensuring long term priorities don’t get lost.
2. Utilize the talents and expertise of your board members. Board members are working alongside you because they are passionate about your mission and want to see your organization thrive. Dedicate time at board meetings to focus on long-term goals, review your strategic plan regularly and assign tasks that board members can help accomplish. Maintain accountability by setting a timeline and providing action items. This not only helps your organization, but gives board members a sense of purpose and connection.
3. Block out time on your calendar for uninterrupted planning. Break down your goals into smaller tasks that need to be accomplished each month and set aside time on your calendar each week to focus on this work. It’s so easy to block this time out but then ignore it when other things come up that feel they need your immediate attention. Do your best to honor this time and celebrate when you do!
4. Seek coaching and/or mentor support. This is one of the things that helped me most when I was an ED. There are just simply times we all need an outside perspective and someone to keep us focused and on track. Embrace the thought of an accountability partner and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
This is hard work- you’ll have good days and challenging days. Stick with it and please reach out when you have questions. I look forward to seeing you reach your 2022 goals!