Does goal setting and planning in the new year invigorate or overwhelm you?

When I was Development Director, it was a combination of both. I was always excited about a new year. However, I both loved and hated the idea of a clean slate. A clean slate meant the chance to embrace new opportunities and put into action what I learned the previous year. It also meant starting over at 0 with 12 months to reach a new fundraising goal (that sometimes felt unattainable).

With planning and goal setting comes the opportunity to take on new projects. Creativity, growth, and pushing past the comfort zone are all encouraged. While these things are great, they can create an imbalance if you constantly say yes without removing some things from your plate.

As you navigate the first few months of the year, I want to share some tips that have helped me to determine when to say yes and when to embrace saying no. I apply these ideas to both my personal and professional life, and I’m getting much better at determining what’s a yes and what’s a no.

4 Tips To Determine If It’s Yes or NO

  1. Is it a HECK YES? This may sound silly, but the Heck Yes test is basically my gut check. Ask yourself these questions: Am I really excited about this? How does saying yes make me feel? Usually, my gut steers me in the right direction, but it does require me to take time to pause and check in with what I am feeling.
  2. What is your motivation for saying yes? Take some time to think about why you are feeling compelled to say yes. If you are saying yes because you are scared to say no, recognize that. Saying yes primarily out of guilt or concern that you will disappoint someone will create additional challenges down the road. Likewise, if you are saying no based on fear, that too creates challenges. Acknowledging your motivations creates an understanding and a base from which to troubleshoot feelings of fear, inadequacy, and guilt.
  3. Is the timing right? This requires you to self-evaluate your current workload and personal commitments. Look at your calendar and revisit your short and long-term goals. Does this opportunity fit? If it is something you really want to do, what can be adjusted from your schedule to ensure you have the time and resources to set yourself up for success?
  4. Once the decision is made, honor it. If you’ve gotten to this stage, you have thoughtfully and intentionally considered your response. Trust that you’ve made the right decision at this moment and stick with it.

Bonus Tip:

Remember that saying no gracefully doesn’t necessarily shut a door forever. If you have to say no at the moment but want to explore the opportunity again, communicate that. Express your appreciation and provide a timeframe for when you’d be willing to revisit it. That being said, if you have no interest in revisiting it later, then be concise and clear with your no at this time. It’s unfair to other people involved if you turn down something in a vague and unclear way.

Our sector is full of helpers. We want to say yes. We are motivated and energized by doing work that makes a difference. As you explore new opportunities, remember that when you take on too much, you can’t be as present, focused, and available to do your best work.

Now, go out there and make 2023 your best year yet! If you want to chat one-on-one about goal setting and planning, reach out. I am always here to help!

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