At 3 am, the high winds tore off half the Ficus tree in front of our house. By noon, the city had taken the
rest of the tree. It seemed a fitting end to the year; a year with much laughter and tears. A year where a lot of good things, and many bad ones, occurred. A year like any other year.
In your nonprofit, you probably had a similar year. Good things diminished by bad. Successes followed by failure. Or, you could look at it from the other side: Bad things diminished by good. Failure followed by success. It’s all in the way you frame it.
Like the tree. Very beautiful with a leafy canopy that shielded my office from direct sun. Because of that tree, we rarely needed to use the A/C. But the roots—ah, those roots. Tearing up sidewalks and clogging our plumbing. And in winter, the mess caused by the dropping berries.
All right. I would take the bad if the tree were still there. But it’s not. And so I need to readjust my attitude, feel better about my extended view, work with the city to plant more than a twig, and generally get on with the rest of my life.
Getting on with it, whatever it is sometimes feels daunting. Too much going on or, if you are like me, it’s hardest when there is too little. When I’m busy, faced with deadlines, lots to get done, I roll up my sleeves and do it. But at those times where there are no deadlines, when what I have to do can be done whenever…or not at all, I have a hard time getting anything accomplished.
That’s why I love to do lists. More, I love written plans with steps and dates to start and end and specific things that I must do. I like plans that have built in metrics so I can evaluate how successful (or not!) I am.
As one year ends and the new one starts, I find myself thinking about my plans, where I am heading, what I want to do, how I want to do them. I would love to avoid thinking about what didn’t happen in the past year, but if I don’t face my failures, I can’t possibly morph them into success. For example, I was going to have a new website by June. Then stuff happened and it got pushed forward. It still hasn’t happened, and it won’t unless I figure out what is holding me back.
Thinking about that brings up a lot of other things—good, strategic things—that I want to consider for the coming year. And, that’s where I circle back to my fallen Ficus tree.
Many of the Ficus trees on my street have been afflicted with a fungus that is slowly killing them off. My tree was not. And because it was not, I never thought I would be one of the houses left denuded. And then, in a flash, it was gone.
Contingency planning—something that perhaps you wouldn’t do about a tree but should be doing as you consider your year ahead. A lot of what ifs, and how else’s will serve you well. So use this month to think about what you will do—and what else is possible. I know that’s what I am up to—and if I can help you, please do contact me. I’d love to help make your new year a very bright one.