It’s no secret that working in the nonprofit sector is challenging. You juggle budget issues, limited resources and always wanting to do more, all while keeping a smile brimming. It’s common to arrive at a place where you’re not sure the work is paying off. Most of us in the nonprofit sector aren’t here because we couldn’t make it anywhere else, but because we want to be here. The staff at Nonprofit Hub feels such a sense of purpose in our work that gets us through the inevitable trying times.
With that being said, motivation doesn’t last forever. Sometimes we get so far into the weeds that we forget about our impact and lose sight of what’s important. Breathe and don’t fret. We’ve come up with five tips to get your mind right and put the pep back in your step to stay motivated.
1. Take time for yourself
Working day in and day out where you don’t always feel valued is taxing. You have to create time in your day to get away from it. Go for a walk and listen to music or grab a smoothie and read a book. Make sure that whatever you choose to do, it has absolutely nothing to do with work. That means no checking emails, no planning events and no writing thank you notes to your donors. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 50, you deserve it.
2. Change the way you approach challenges
There’s plenty of them. Take some time to really think about how you react to problems that come up. Being more self-aware might help you realize that there’s a more productive way you can act. Or it could remind you that you’re a rockstar and can handle anything that’s thrown your way. Consider not making decisions right away, but writing out the problems you’re having and include possible solutions. Asking an outsider for a fresh perspective is extremely valuable because the day-to-day often blinds us to obvious solutions.
3. Baby steps
Slow and steady wins the race, remember? Baby steps are important. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and feel unmotivated when you feel like you’re not meeting goals. But baby steps are just as important (if not more) as the big ones, too. Think of all of the small things you’ve done that have lead you to new opportunities. Focus on a few small things that you can accomplish to boost your motivation.
A lot of times this looks like boiling down your to-do list of 10 things to just two things. What two things can you give your full attention today that would have the most impact? Think the Pareto Principle—80% of the results you obtain come from 20% of your actions. Remember you don’t have to save the world today, all by yourself.
4. Find your tribe
You’re not doing this alone and you absolutely don’t have to. Find a group that supports you through the ups and the downs of the job. It can be your co-workers or a group of friends or family. Whoever your tribe is, make sure that you schedule a time to meet for a cup of coffee or a gym session to de-stress.
Taking the opportunity to research pertinent conferences is a great way to deepen your tribe as well, and meet passionate people like yourself. Attending and making the most of conferences will give you the chance to “get out” for a short period of time, network, learn and reignite your fire for the work you’re doing.
5. Go down memory lane
Go through your photos from your first event or reminisce about what you did with your first big donation. Take some time to reflect on the wins you’ve had so far. Those are the times that make all of the late nights, frustrating meetings and hard work worth it. Not to mention the stories that have spawned from the work your organization is doing. Spreadsheets and mundane tasks aren’t fun, but they’re all part of the process, and they’re just as necessary to cause change and achieve missions.
Listen, we’re not saying this stuff is easy. It’s hard to walk the line between balance and burnout, but with a little self-love and remembering that you love your job, you can do it. Just remember that above all else: you come first and even when it doesn’t feel like it, the work is paying off. It might just take you a little while to see it.
Originally published 7.14.2017—Updated 8.21.2018