How many times during the day do you find yourself in the middle of something you and stop and say, “Why am I doing this?”  Or, as you look back over the last month or last year, how many things did you do that you’re still scratching your head over?
I know there have been quite a few head-scratchers for me over the last year.  I’m thinking to myself, “Jeff, what were you thinking? Why were you even trying to do that?”
Well, it’s time to start taking some of my own medicine.  And I would love it if you joined me.  Here’s what I mean.  If you’ve been a reader of our blog for some time, you know that Richard and I have discussed in great detail how MGO’s need to prioritize their caseloads.  We’re really big on making sure you’re cultivating the right donors by qualifying and tiering them, levels A,B,C.  This allows you to focus your time and energy on the right donors.
Well, the same holds true for your work in general, but also for figuring out what is important to you in your life.  What are your priorities in your professional and personal lives?  Have you asked yourself that lately?  If not, along with being more reflective, this can be your second New Year’s resolution for the new year.
Now, there are many ways you can do this.  One way is to simply take a piece of paper and write “Professional” and “Personal” on each side of the paper, draw a line down the middle and begin listing priorities under each category for this year.
After you’ve written several under both topics, take the top 4 or 5 from each as your “Top Priorities.”  Write them down on a separate piece of paper along the left hand side, listing them vertically.  Then along the top, write out the months of the year horizontally.  (You may find this much easier, like I do, in an Excel spreadsheet.) Next, begin to figure out what your strategy will be, month by month, prioritize each to a reality.  This will be your guide for the year to achieve or “make happen” the priorities you’ve listed for this year.
For example, if one of your work priorities is to “Get more education on major gift fundraising,” you would specifically write in which month you were going to take a class, attend a conference or read a book so that you can pinpoint when this is going to happen.  It’s so simple, yet so powerful for keeping you on task to achieve the priorities you have for yourself.
Next, go make a copy of this, or print it out and give it to someone who will sit down with you every three months and ask how you are doing.  This is critical.  It will have to be someone you trust and someone who is not afraid to hold you accountable.
Now, if you’re not into making a spreadsheet or tracking this month by month, I have another exercise for you to help you with prioritizing.  My colleague, Karen Kendrick, sent me an exercise that she has found to be very meaningful.  It’s called “Reviewing, Releasing and Reclaiming.”  It was put together in 2006 by a woman named Kathy Pike.
I will send you the complete version you if you e-mail me and write in the subject line, “I want to prioritize.”  Essentially this exercise asks you three things.

  1. What did you do last year that you wanted to do, or planned to do, but in the end, didn’t?
  2. What are some things that you can “let go of” that you really don’t need in your life?
  3. What are some things you want to “reclaim” in your life?

I find this to be another great way to figure out what is truly important. It can help to set your heart and mind in the right place as you begin the New Year.  And, if you are like me, and you’re anticipating a busy year, you will need this to become more focused and held accountable.
Richard and I want to wish you a very Happy New Year!  It’s going to be a great year for you.
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