Notes from a Nonprofit Nerd – A Single Resolution

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I think they can be a great tool for positive change, and also a bit of a guilt trip. For over a decade now I have have made but one resolution: Finish what you start. I do give myself a pass on finishing books – life (and free time) is just too short to spend it reading a book for pleasure that doesn’t deliver – but otherwise, I really try to adhere to this solo intention.

When I am successful, I make good decisions that often lead me in interesting, productive, and fulfilling directions. Learning to upholster furniture. Changing careers (more than once). Hosting a beautiful wedding.

When I am less thoughtful about the commitment, I end up with a project I’m not thrilled with, struggling to meet expectations, whether mine, or someone else’s. Joining a third bookclub. Making a compelling video. Trying to make a paleo Thanksgiving that my family will enjoy.

I have learned that it really comes down to asking myself, “if I start this, what will it really take to bring it to completion?” And when I remember to ask myself that question, and to ask others with whom I’m collaborating, I end up with… a plan! And when I don’t, I often end up with too much on my plate, in too short a timeframe, complete with a side of grumbling and resentment. I love plans! Lists are in my DNA. So why is it so hard to make one before diving into something? I know that if I make a more mindful commitment, I plot a more thoughtful path, and get a better result. But too often it’s “Ready! Fire! Aim!”

At CRC recently, the focus has been on planning for the coming year – budgets, strategies, initiatives – and all the aspirational commitments that go with them. I want to do a great job – and that means being thoughtful about my part in our organization’s goals. At home, I’m considering how best to spend my energy as well.

Today is December 31st, and I am filled with optimism for my new year. I have a job I love, a work plan locked down, and a puppy on the horizon. I resolve to be thoughtful with any new additions — so the things I have already committed to don’t get short-changed. And neither do I.

As you ponder whether and what you’ll resolve to do differently this year, consider making just one resolution. And let it inform and enhance all you do. I hope it will be a New Year tradition that serves you well.