The stress and demands on working professionals seems to be constantly on the rise. This is also true for those working at nonprofit organizations and with the social good sector. We are constantly trying to reach that optimal work-life balance while serving our missions.
Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman explore this topic in-depth in their new book The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit. Kanter is an internationally acclaimed master trainer, speaker, and is the award-winning author of The Networked Nonprofit books. Sherman is a web and social mobile pioneer whose work helped shape the early new media industry.
Together, they provide a well-researched plan for nonprofit professionals and their organizations to implement a happy, healthy strategy. Kanter and Sherman reinforce the point that there is no merit badge for achieving burnout. People are the mission-critical part of any nonprofit mission. You are no good to the cause if you are not being good to yourself.
Moving from “your stressed out zone to your happy, healthy place” requires the understanding that it all begins with you. Just like in the airline safety demonstrations, it’s important to secure your own oxygen mask before for attempting to assist others. Thankfully, Kanter and Sherman provide some great self-assessment tools in the book and the companion website at www.happyhealthynonprofit.org
A major focus area of The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit are the “5 Spheres of Happy Healthy Living” which include Self, Others, Environment, Work and Money, and Tech. Kanter and Sherman are prescient in their willingness to address the role of technology in our well-being. The always-on nature of today’s technology might actually be contributing to our balancing-act challenges. The authors offer plenty of sound advice about undergoing a digital detox.
Getting yourself happy and healthy allows you to take the next step at your organization. No plan survives first contact with reality. That is why it is critical to be prepared before taking your happy, healthy attitudes and habits back to work . Kanter and Sherman remind us to focus on our work environment, our relationships, and the boundaries we set. A short-term focus on the right practices will lead to better long-term habits.
Transforming the entire organization to be a happier, healthier place will also require the support of the nonprofit’s board and leadership. This is no simple undertaking as the book points out: “While informational sessions, coaching, and peer and group support can help educate and motivate staff to adopt happy, healthy habits, only culture change will make it last.”
I highly recommend The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit for those trying to improve themselves and their organizations. Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman provide the step-by-step guidance to implement a real strategy for yourself and the entire organization. They offer a practical plan to avoid burnout and increase impact. I have no doubt the book will help you find your nonprofit happy place.