Get those favorite projects off the back burner — even when it seems time like there’s not enough time

Laughing at Time - Twenty HatsDoes this sound like you?  You have a project that is all your own, something that would really benefit your nonprofit and be fun to implement – a special program for your clients or a new training for your volunteers, but there is so much other work on your desk that the project never takes off.

The “too much work to get the fun and exciting stuff done” is an issue I hear lot from volunteer managers.  It’s a complaint uttered wistfully because we spend so much time attending to the needs of others.  Our jobs would feel so much more fulfilling if only we could put our mark on them.

Partly, we put the needs of others first because that’s why we do nonprofit work in the first place.  We want to improve the quality of life for other people.

More than that, not getting to our own projects may be a symptom of the scarcity mindset so often found in nonprofits, where we put all our energy into retaining the scant resources we have instead of investing in something that will bring us more in the long run. We feel we don’t deserve to initiate something new because it takes away from someone or something else.

Going it on your own or reaching out for support

In the “too busy for my own projects” conversation, the limited resource is time. The only way around that is to make the commitment to invest your time in your own project.

That’s a hard thing to do solo.  Most of us need encouragement, structure and accountability to help us maintain a commitment – even one that is very important to us.

That commitment goes even further when you put money on the line. When you pay for someone to help you reach your goals, you expect results, and you are much more motivated to take action and approach things differently.

Here’s an example

Take “Connie”, one of my coaching clients.  She really wanted to give the staff a substantive training on how to work with volunteers. It’s something she had planned to do for years, but things were so busy at work that her project always fell to the back burner.

Here’s what happened when Connie made the investment in herself.  We talked about her project and came up with a plan to make it happen.  Every call, we would identify next steps that had to be completed within the week – that’s important.  If anyone has read Napoleon Hill you know his famous quote, “A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

This is why I find the coaching process so valuable. What Connie needed to get her project off the ground was an objective person, listening to her situation and providing the validation, structure and accountability.

Other Options to Get You There

Peer groups also meet that need, which is why I am creating a group support forum as part of my Leading Where It Counts course.  Accountability buddies may help, too.

And how is Connie doing?  Three months into the process, she had the green light from her leadership to initiate staff training and had piloted the first one.  After two years of waiting, her project is off the ground. It’s a win for Connie, a win for the volunteers, and ultimately a win for the clients.