It’s not personal

I don’t know if it’s more common for folks working in the nonprofit sector or not, but I know that I have a really hard time keeping work and personal life separate. And I don’t mean the work-life balance like not checking email at night or talking about work with friends. I mean more like taking your work personally.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever written something that you think is awesome and then someone else (whether or not they know what they’re doing) completely rewrites it, with no context. Cough if you’ve busted your butt to launch a website on time, and as soon as it goes live, requests for changes come in. Maybe you’ve put together the best freaking statistics report the world has ever seen, and you are told it needs a few more numbers. Nod your head if you do everything you’re asked to do — and sometimes, it’s just not enough.

I think we’ve all been there, whether we work for a nonprofit, a corporation, you name it. And when you’re doing something you like/love/are passionate about, be it the issue, or the work itself, it’s even harder to separate yourself from the everyday doldrums and frustrations that come with a job.

It’s really hard to step back and acknowledge that you don’t have control over everything. And boy, do I know about the need for control.

Some days, I have to remind myself that my work is good and that I’m valuable and doing a great job, and that the needs and wants of others are not a reflection of me and my efforts. Some days, I have to remember that I don’t have the title of President or Executive Director or CEO next to my name, and even if I think my advice and strategy are the most awesome things to have ever been uttered, that I may not get my way, and that’s how things go.

Sometimes, I need my boss telling me I’m amazing but that I need to not take everything on myself — that it’s not personal, and I can only do what I can do. Sometimes, I need more than one boss telling me that.

The bottom line is that when you care about what you’re striving toward, and you have dreams and goals and ideas of how you would run the world, it’s easy to take the daily office challenges and hiccups to heart — because we care so darn much. But the bottom line is that it’s also a job. And in every job, and every office, this stuff happens. If you want to avoid it, go live alone in a forest by yourself. And unless you’re just a really big jerk, it’s not personal. It’s not personal. It’s not personal.

 

A key to happiness: relishing your accomplishments

Another one down!

Most of us have glamorous, grand goals: to run a marathon, to run for public office, to become president of a company, to write a book, to retire by X age with $X.  And then you have the smaller ones: finish your stack of books, finish your car payment, get a raise, finally clean your apartment.

No matter how big or small, glamorous or boring your goals are, it’s important to take the time to feel good about them, to relish them, to pat yourself on the back. Because for every little goal you accomplish, you are one step closer to your bigger one – and to happiness.

Not everyone has to know about your goals and accomplishments. You may share that you got a promotion or earned a medal in a race, but you may not tell everyone that you finally cleaned out your closet, perfected a family recipe, or had a great second date. Or you may – it’s up to you. What really matters is that you take the time to appreciate what you’ve accomplished for you – because whatever it was, you put time and energy into it.

Here are some of my recent accomplishments, big and small, that make me smile, and feel good about myself. What are yours?

  • Launching the third phase of a website at work – on time.
  • Running my second 10k, and improving my time. It was my third race this year – I just started racing this year.
  • Cooking a damn good chili to kick off fall.
  • Being invited to sit on a panel at a summit for a top fundraising & online database provider.
  • Making new friends after losing others.

When it feels like it should be Friday

Who here walks into the office on some Monday mornings and wishes it were Friday already? (Raised hand) And who no longer thinks happy hours are only for Thursdays and Fridays but should be arranged earlier and more frequently as soon as the sun starts shining on a regular basis? (other hand raised)

No matter how much you love your job, there are those days when you dread every new meeting request, every time the phone rings, every email that pops into your inbox. So when the extra strong coffee no longer works and you’ve already taken your walk around the block to get the daily dose of exercise and vitamin D, what do you do to get through the day, and the week for that matter?

  • Remind yourself of why you’re there. Whether you are a teacher, a doctor, an engineer, a cook, or writer, or you work for a non-profit, there is a reason you signed up in the first place. Think about that and charge forward.
  • Get to the bottom of what’s bogging you down. If it’s issues with a coworker, figure out how to come to a truce. If you’re falling behind on a project, ask for help. If it’s just been a busy week, month, or year so far, see if you can adjust your priorities, or delegate some of your tasks. Or, make sure you get to bed earlier so you have a full night’s sleep.

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Full disclosure: plugs for my work & colleagues

Wow. A kickoff to an annual day of recognition for one campaign, a dedicated fundraising effort on a primetime TV show watched by nearly 40 million people, and the beginnings of a new flagship campaign — all in one week — all the combined efforts of the wonderful people I work with.

My About page says it: that anything I say on this blog is from me and by me only, and not endorsed by my employer – and that’s true. Usually I am subtle when giving kudos to the issues I work on, and use banners or buried links to show what I’m focused on 9-10 hours every day, but today is different. Today – it deserves a real mention.

This is a shoutout to the great work of the United Nations Foundation. To the great work of my teammates and my department, Public Affairs, and all of the other staff involved in these amazing and impactful projects. This is to say that even on the days when we want to tear our hair out, go hide in the corner, close out our emails, and say “no,” that the power of  saying “yes” to inspirational and innovative ideas is so worth it in the end. It’s so worth reading emails or tweets from our supporters, giving us props for our shoutout on American Idol, for pledging to end malaria, for empowering girls around the world. It’s worth the emails that our team shares immediately after a win, full of pride and virtual pats on the back and sighs of relief that the hard part is done.

Sometimes in our daily work, we get caught up in the negative moments and the frustrating times – but in the last three days, I can truly say that I have been able to come home and still say that I feel so honored and fortunate to work at a place like the UN Foundation, and with such amazing, passionate, hard-working people.

And with that:

-Sign up to Sleep Out to End Malaria on April 24, the Eve of World Malaria Day at www.nothingbutnets.net/sleepout.

-Visit www.unfoundation.org/idol to donate to help the UN help Haiti rebuild and recover.

End of year musings

Yes, it’s been awhile since I wrote – but I’m sure my few and loyal readers (all 2 of you) haven’t missed me that much. I’m not sure I even have an excuse for not writing. Sure work has been busy, and yes, it’s the holidays, blah blah…but mostly I’ve been lazy. So there you have it!

On to bigger and better things though- the year is almost over! Insert phrase that we all say every time this year: “I can’t believe it went so fast!”

But seriously. A LOT has happened this past year. A quick rundown on my end: new job, new apartment…and another new iPod.  From my past posts, you’ve seen that I’ve really enjoyed my job switch this year. It’s been a fabulous 10 months so far. I work with a great team on some amazing issues, and it’s just been really invigorating all around. It’s really interesting to see how a job change can give you a fresh outlook on life, and how much stress and negativity just washes away.

But that wasn’t all. I also moved into a place of my own, which I LOVE. I know some people still like having roommates to hang out with and it saves money, etc, but I really don’t think I could have it any better than I do now. I have a great studio in a great area, and I am just fine with coming home to my place and my things and my mess (I actually don’t really have messes, because I’m a neat freak). I can watch my shows and cook in my kitchen and all that other fun stuff that comes with living alone. And again, it’s amazing what stresses are lifted when you’re not dealing with a living situation you’re unhappy in.

Conclusion: life is good.

In addition to all this, I’ve recently started corresponding with some family members that for many years were not in my life, thanks to all kinds of drama and bad times when I was younger. It’s a huge step for me, because for awhile, I said I just wouldn’t deal with it anymore and I didn’t need it. Now, it’s not that I need it, but I feel I can finally move past the bad stuff and get some closure. I will never go back to how things were 10 years ago, but it’s something that I need to do to be at peace with things. More importantly, because I have great parents, a boyfriend and friends who care about me, I don’t need much to come out of this – it’s just my little thing that I’m doing so that the what if’s won’t be running around in my head anymore. It’s a long process though, so I know that I may still have some moments where I’m struggling and wondering “what’s next?” But I won’t allow myself to get hurt anymore because I do have the control. My dad always tells me that – that I have control over how I react to something, and he’s right. It’s in my power to figure out how I will or will not respond to something.

I think this really translates into all of the stuff that’s been happening in my life this year and that continues to happen. If I have a friend who isn’t really being a good friend or if I’m unhappy about something at work- it’s up to me to decide how it will affect me and what I will do, if anything, about it. I can either say, “ok, it is what it is” and step away from it, or I can try to figure it out – but it doesn’t have to stress me out. That’s something I continually work on. That there are some things out of my control, but that it’s in my control to realize and accept this. Deep, but not really. Quite simple- it’s just a matter of applying it to daily life.

Personal stuff aside, it’s been amazing being in DC for all of the pre-election and post-election excitement. It was one of the best nights of my life to be at a bar in Dupont Circle with friends during the returns, and to run on the streets screaming and hugging people out of pure happiness at the change that is coming. Yes, I just said that! I’m really excited to be here for the inauguration and the upcoming couple of years – what a great place to be in for all of this!

I think this is enough for now. Does anyone have any thoughts about their 2008?

Who is excited to go home for the holidays? I am! Here is a preview of my trip home:

-corgis
-movies
-pot pie
-finally seeing The Nutcracker Ballet!
-watching A Muppet Christmas Carol
-Law & Order marathons