Jim Ryun said, “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”

Given that Jim is a former Olympian, he is likely less vulnerable than the rest of us to starting a resolution with intention and motivation … and losing steam and focus.

This happens to all of us, doesn’t it? We start the new year with resolve to do things differently in our personal lives and our professional lives … and so often, the business of getting through the day pushes those resolutions further and further away.

But a new year is another opportunity for change, and being professionally successful this year will require us to build new and better habits — and maintain them — for how we show up professionally.

Building new habits is challenging! However, this excellent tip sheet on Therapist Aid provides easy-to-implement advice for doing it, and it’s directly applicable to our work in philanthropy. For example:

  • Differentiate between goals and habits: Your goal may be to spend more time on donor relationships. Identify and implement the habits that will get you there: reviewing your portfolio each Monday to prioritize outreach, marking off time on your calendar each week for donor engagement, etc.
  • Start with small changes: Immediate, dramatic change can be unsustainable, but starting with small changes will create new habits. For example, if your goal is to ask more probing questions, write out three and use them consistently with donors over the next six weeks.
  • Tie new habits to other activities: To create consistency, use “After I _______, I will _______.” For example: “After I eat lunch every day, I will call or email five donors.” “After a great virtual conversation, I will reach out to natural partners to further explore how collaboration will strengthen this strategy”.
  • Celebrate your successes: Creating new habits takes time, and raising meaningful gifts takes time too. That’s why it’s critical to identify shorter-term successes and celebrate them — don’t wait for the next “yes” or a signed gift agreement! Did you take the time to better understand a donor’s motivations? Try a new way to virtually engage a donor or prospect? Utilize new and more compelling language in a first outreach? Brainstorm a challenging topic with a colleague? Take a moment to celebrate and reward these steps on the path of change. Better yet, send a note of congratulations to a colleague on a shared accomplishment.

If you’re looking for tools and insight that will support your toolbox of good habits in 2024, join us for a webinar, Bootcamp or online workshop. We explore a variety of timely issues and actionable strategies that will support your success this year and beyond, and provide a post-webinar exercise that reinforces key learnings and starts the process of turning them into habits. Check out what we have to offer.

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