How to Make 2018 What You Want It to Be

There’s a bit of a chill in the air. Perhaps you’ve felt it? Welcome to January 2018.

Sure, we all shake and shiver this time of year. But do you also feel mentally frozen, about being back to work after the glowing holidays while staring at another 12 months of a full calendar?

Instead of trudging through the month (or snow, wherever you may be), lighten up and make the commitment to get the pep back in your step. Whatever your passion, reignite the flame to work with renewed vigor and take you feeling and working well into the year. Because your life—and your work’s purpose—deserves more than simply trudging.

Warm up to these ideas for professional renewal:

Find a mentor. We all need someone who can lift us up and keep us moving in the right direction, especially in nonprofit work. Maybe this person isn’t in your office, but he or she is out there, perhaps in your community, place of faith, sports league, yoga circle or professional trade association. Wherever your source of inspiration, make the connection that could change your life.

TIP: Be respectful of your mentor’s time and advice. Don’t be late to meetings, interrupt or discount their suggestions, and return the favor (whenever possible) with ideas, manpower, professional support, etc.

Make new spaces. To get more energized, it helps if you’re first more organized. Start by rearranging and cleaning out your office or work space by getting rid of old files, moving your desk to a new spot (better yet, try a sit/stand desk), dusting behind the computer, or hanging personal artwork. Think of it as an early spring cleaning, clearing out cobwebs from your physical and mental spaces.

TIP: Bring the outdoors in with a small plant or two.  Studies back up the benefits of plants in an office, including boosting employee productivity.

Lighten up & laugh about it. How can you expect to put that pep back into your step when everything’s dragging you down? The trick to counting blessings and not burdens begins with perspective—yours. That’s no small feat. In fact, many would agree that it takes continual diligence to remain above the fray of negativism, gossip and gloom.

One approach? Flip the switch in how you think, from feeling like everything is so serious and insurmountable to seeing the little moments of humor and humanness in the every day. Laugh at the little absurdities of it all.

TIP: Find a funny friend and stick with them. Grab coffee together. Or walk at lunch. Or just go to lunch and forget the walk—and have fun!


It’s a love/hate relationship with social media. The very thing that can suck efficiency and motivation from your day can also be a great source of energy and inspiration. So it bears repeating: You’re in charge of what you view and for how long. Set firm limits on when and what you watch or read to stay upbeat.

Tons of sites exist on the subject; these are a few of our favorites.


Accidental Creative

Podcasts, a blog, books, workshops—Todd Henry and team offer it all. Inspiration and action are at the root of the resources they offer to help “creative people do brilliant work.” Even if you don’t fancy yourself a creative, AC’s compelling podcasts are relevant to every type of work place, maybe even more so in nonprofit work where we have to be all things at any moment.

Beyond the To-Do List

This podcast prides itself on interviews with industry experts “showing you how to complete good work and balance your life.” Count me in on both points.

Give this recent blog a spin, “Impact: Ray Edwards on Efficiency, Effectiveness and Impact” for an expert’s take on common things that can slow productivity and the mistake of aiming for efficiency instead of effectiveness. Words worth hearing, as nonprofit leaders often walk the tightrope between efficiently balancing resources (financial, manpower) against spending enough time, money and effort to yield substantive communal impact.


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Hundreds of visual cues for a brighter day from Brian Evans (@briandevans), founder of Influencive and a contributor to prominent business reads, including Entrepreneur and Forbes.  


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Simon Sinek (@simonsinek), best-selling author and “unshakable optimist,” is everywhere. He has quite the following and for good reason. His groundbreaking TED Talks shared far and wide across social media, including “Start With Why” will make you think, feel and do.


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Fearless Motivation—a “like” will give you a stream of posts that reminds us how to get it done and give yourself some credit in the process.


Plug in your ear buds and take a lunchtime break to refill your day. Each video is about 15-20 minutes long.

“The Skill of Self Confidence” with Dr. Ivan Joseph, athletic director and head coach of the varsity soccer team at Ryerson University

“The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong” with best-selling author and psychotherapist (a riveting talk about giving away power, self-pity and unhealthy beliefs about the “world”)

“Become Who You Really Are” with Dr. Andrea Pennington, founder/president of Pennington Empowerment Media (just one thought to ponder from her 18-minute talk, “When you look in the mirror … do you ever sense that there’s more to you than what you see in your reflection?”)

“Stop Wasting Time” with Coach Hite (another look at the “why” of life in a short motivational video that gets you thinking about purpose and living it, one small daily goal at a time)


Supergood: A Guide to Living In Pursuit of Your Potential: 30 Principles of Success” by Mike Swanson, entrepreneur, success coach and motivational speaker, in Kindle and hardback

“Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration” by Simon Sinek, an illustrated story that serves as a metaphor for making a change and pursuing dreams (an excerpt for thinking: “We achieve more when we chase the dream instead of the competition.”)

How will you take charge of 2018 with renewed vigor? This is your year. Share with us how you will rise and plan to stay motivated in work and life, especially this time of year. We’d love to hear how you do it.

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