Happy (fiscal) New Year, really

To fundraisers working for organizations with a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year, I know your pain. Forget what T.S. Eliot said about April. This is the cruelest season. (Plug in your fiscal year-end if it’s other than June 30 and continue reading.)

depressed_figure_sitting_on_curb_12930Like Sisyphus and his boulder, just as you reach the summit, it’s back to the bottom come the first of July. With another climb staring you in the face, it’s easy to ignore the triumphs of the year just past. As the author of a FastCompany article about job satisfaction warns, “The busier you get and the more forward-looking you become, the more difficult it is to actually acknowledge and gain strength and inspiration from the things you’ve already accomplished . . . You can lose sight of progress.”

So what’s the antidote to the development shop gloomies? The FastCompany piece lists three questions that can change your perspective.

  1. What am I thankful for today? This does not have to be work related, just anything at all.
  2. What did I enjoy today? Keeping a pulse of what energizes you is really important.
  3. What am I satisfied with today? This question is particularly important if you’re one of those people who is seeking excellence and always trying to progress along a path.

“These questions effectively create . . . a ‘to-done’ list. Instead of crossing off tasks, you’re tallying accomplishments. Not only do all of those little dopamine hits start to add up, but over time you will get a sense of the types of things that energize and inspire.”

Then there’s this from one of my favorite bloggers, David Lose, the newly appointed president of Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He writes:

If we focus primarily on threats we risk losing the energy and enthusiasm and opportunity of focusing on accomplishments worth celebrating. Moreover, I’m a big believer that what we focus on tends to shape and even dominate our future. Focus on problems, we’ll have more problems. Focus on success, and we’ll have more of that.

That’s not an invitation to deny challenges, but rather to keep them in perspective. An image I’ve found helpful is the relationship we naturally understand between the rearview mirror and the windshield. Yes, we keep track of potential threats and risks by looking into the rearview mirror, but the good driver gives most of her attention to what’s coming – to the strengths, successes, and opportunities that lie on the road ahead.

The climb ahead will be no less steep, the goals you’ve been handed no less daunting, but by focusing for a few minutes each day on small triumphs, FY15 could be your best year yet. That is my prayer for Generous Matters readers.

Happy New Year dear development friends. I’m thankful for you.

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