Ask Amber: New Year’s Resolutions for the Young Nonprofit Professional

By Amber Alarid, JVA Consulting

Planners, like this refillable one shown here, are a great way to keep track of your goals and important events.

It’s that time of year again when we are faced with the decision about whether or not to set New Year’s resolutions and then sit down to craft said resolutions. If you are like me, this can be an excruciating process filled with immense guilt and frustration, especially when unable to reach the goals after about a week. Well, not this year! This year, I vow to set tangible goals for both personal and professional growth. The following are tips and resources I find valuable in helping to make goal setting easier, or at least more realistic, this year.

Step 1: Get organized.

Sure, this is tricky if your New Year’s resolution is to get organized, but I am a firm believer in learning by doing. Start by making a list of potential resolutions. Once you are done with your list, assign a guesstimated timeline to each goal; this will help you later when you begin to feel disappointed that change is not happening as fast as you would like, or it will light a fire under you if you have been neglecting your goals. Write each deadline in a planner or set a reminder in your phone; also be sure to keep important dates handy that will help you with your goal. For example, if you would like to land your dream job, collect dates for career fairs, for Denver Young Nonprofit Professionals Network events, and for JVA’s Nonprofit Job Networking Club which offers monthly two-hour trainings on how to find a job in nonprofits, followed by an hour of networking.

Step 2: Get the right tools.

If you want to get organized, stay motivated and achieve your goals, get the right tools for you. Planners help me because the simple act of writing something down helps commit it to memory. Looking for a constant reminder to keep you on track? There’s an app for that! Computers, smart phones and ipads all have downloadable apps (free and paid) that allow you to upload your own goals or that are targeted to specific goals. At JVA, we like Action Method Online, which allows us to list and delegate action steps for all of our projects and to nag and appreciate each other, and it is easy to take along anywhere via an iPhone app.

I once knew someone who signed up for a program that would send emails at random reminding him to turn off email and, in this case, work out (but I’m sure this is something you could use for any goal). Perhaps a friend can help you do this as well with periodic emails or texts reminding you to update your resume, get on LinkedIn or finish that book you have been reading.  All of us at JVA are reading Leap of Reason right now, and we highly recommend it for anyone in the nonprofit field.

Step 3: Find classes or get a group together with the same goal.

Having a support group and guidance always help me to follow through with my goals. If I can find a class to teach me how to do something better, I am more likely to do it. If I can find a friend to go with me, all the better! Knowing that for some of us public speaking is a huge fear, JVA is putting together a class for people to improve on this skill. A group setting like this can help you improve upon your skills in front of an audience, but also surrounds you with a support group of people with the same goal. If you are interested in the new public speaking class JVA is planning for 2012, please email me at and I’ll send you more information.

And if overall professional development to further you in your career is your goal, consider a subscription to JVA’s training series. For one lump sum, you can attend trainings on a variety of topics to strengthen your skills and knowledge in grantwriting, fundraising, program evaluation, social media, working with boards and more.

Whether your New Year’s resolutions are big or small, take these last few days of 2011 to set yourself up on the right track to achieve them all. If you have more goal setting resources, please share them with us!


This entry was posted in Books and articles you want to read, College graduates and nonprofits, Gen Xers, Generations, Human resources, Millenials, Training Opportunities, Trends and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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