Be Mindful of Your Vibes

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In the nonprofit sector, we’re all working like crazy. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and think, what did I accomplish today?? Of course, the actual answer to that is a bunch of stuff, but sometimes the time just flies by. And before you know it, it’s time to go.

We’re all working at 110%. Which is why it’s super important to be mindful of how we talk about that fact. It can be easy to default to complaints:

“I worked 12 hours yesterday, and 11 the day before. This is too much! I just have so much work to do. I’m exhausted and by the time I get home, I don’t want to spend time with my family, I just want to go to sleep. Also, I just gave my first born baby to my boss!”

OK, that last complaint went too far, but you get the picture. And I’m not downplaying the work that anyone is putting in. But I am saying that the way we frame the hard work we are doing makes a difference. It’s very likely that someone heard that venting session and thought to themselves,

“Well gosh. I only worked nine hours yesterday and a measly eight hours the day before! I feel bad, my colleague is working her butt off and I’m sitting around eating bonbons. I’d better work longer hours and put in more time!”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Your colleague working longer days does not mean that your day will be any shorter. In fact, it will probably just make the mood more miserable, since everybody will be stressed out. Instead, I’d recommend framing your feelings this way:

“Because of the board meeting yesterday, I worked a pretty long day. Sometimes things like that happen. I’m planning to leave early tomorrow to make up that time.”

Boom. No additional explaining, no apologizing for leaving early. Of course, you might want to frame this as a question if you’re talking to your boss. But if it’s a colleague, just leave it at that. It’s no one else’s business if you’re working more than eight hours a day. I’d argue that it’s usually something within your control. So, keep it to yourself. And be mindful of your vibes. They really make a difference.

-N.C.

Your Nonprofit is Making You Crazy

…and mine is, too!!

Now, we all know that I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for years and don’t plan to leave anytime soon (I’m even getting my Masters in Nonprofit Administration from USF)! But as much as I love the work I do, I’ve recently come to a realization…

My nonprofit is making me crazy!

The vast majority of people working in nonprofits are selfless, caring, passionate people. And when I say passionate, I mean passionate. We’re committed to the cause – mostly underpaid, working long hours, caring wholeheartedly about the work we do.

But when it comes to the day to day work we do… this passion can go overboard. Because we care so much, we believe so strongly in the work we’re doing, we fight for our opinions, programs, and priorities. They mean something to us. They matter.

Well, shoot. If you get too many people like that in a room… they’re bound to make anyone go a little crazy.

The next time you’re in your office, take a second to look around. There’s probably someone making copies, someone frantically getting ready for a committee meeting, someone on the phone with a potential volunteer. And I’d guess the hustle and bustle doesn’t exactly slow down at any point.

So, here’s the thing: this type of constant, passionate work is great in small doses, but in the long term, it’ll make you burn out. And that’s not OK unless you’re inching toward retirement. (Even then it’s not really OK!)

So, what to do? I’m not advising you to up and quit. Not telling you to go find a mindless administrative job that you don’t care about. Instead – accept that your nonprofit is making you crazy. Embrace the fact that everyone cares in excess about their work. The next time you’re in a meeting with someone who seems to be going on about her program, remember that she really believes in this project.

Be understanding, but also realize that it doesn’t have to be this way. The next time your colleagues are gearing up to stay in the office until 6:30, politely leave at 5:00. When noon rolls around, take 20 minutes for a break in the lunchroom. At your desk, remember to breathe and live peacefully. After a little bit of this, you’ll realize you’ve done something:

You’ve taken back the crazy.

-N.C.