Masks and a goodbye 2020 note pinned on a wood surface.

Reflections for the New Year Ahead – Grant Advance Team

Most of us probably relate to the feeling that 2020 was an extremely odd and turbulent year. Looking ahead to the new year, focusing on the possibilities that lay ahead, is a welcomed change of pace.

The team at Grant Advance recognizes the financial pressure that the non-profit and charitable sector has been experiencing during the pandemic. But, just as important, we are always uplifted and inspired by the stories of hope and promise our clients are willing to share.

Many of you have expressed that, despite some major and unexpected hardships this year, you remain optimistic about the future. This has led our team to think about what qualities and inspirations we wish to foster in the year ahead.

“What I love most about my job is learning about the work our clients do and being inspired by the ability to overcome seemingly impossible hardships for the greater good of the world. It is really inspiring and, quite honestly, the reason I look forward to doing my job every day. I’m privileged to participate in their journey in any small way.”
Jasmine McPherson, Director of Operations at Grant Advance.

The power of positive thinking should not be underestimated

Positive thinking is both a mental and emotional state of being. It involves harnessing an attitude that empowers individuals to take control of their own life, leading to greater chances of success, both personally and professionally. Positive thinking is both a choice and practice. We can think of positive thinking as less of an on–and–off switch and more of a ritual of thinking. For example, we can begin making more space for positive thoughts once we are more aware of the negative ones and stopping them in their tracks. Of course, this often is easier said than done. We might be relatively accustomed to negative thought patterns—such as, “I don’t think I will succeed” or “This probably won’t work out”—and this makes recognizing our critical voice harder to spot. This is why mindfulness and awareness of our present-day thoughts is the first step to incorporating healthier and happier ones. Getting used to paying attention to our habits of mind and replacing negative thoughts with positive ones is a habit shifting practice. Once we find ourselves better at positive thinking, our gratitude and fortitude increase leading to a much more fulfilling state of mind.

Since the events of 2020 have left many of us feeling extra anxious or worried about the future or feeling a little isolated, the one thing we can control is our mindfulness. We all have good and bad days. But after careful reflection, the team at Grant Advance has decidedly committed to the power of positive thinking. We extend the invitation to our clients and affiliates to join us in this practice and share with one another any helpful resources or advice that helps cement these efforts.

Prioritizing health and wellness

It is tradition in North America to reset the new year with New Year’s Resolutions, and typically these resolutions involve health and wellness related goals. Yet, just as often, these resolutions tend to not stick because we tend to make drastic, broad, and vague goals—such as “I want to lose lots of weight” —rather than small, specific and gradual ones— such as exercise three times per a week. Just as the power of positive thinking should not be understated—as is true for prioritizing our physical health—it is nearly impossible to be mentally well in our professional and personal lives if our physical bodies are not functioning at their best. It’s a crucial reminder that small adjustments to our diet, exercise, and sleep cycles all lead to big changes in the long run. Health related goals do not have to be ‘resolutions’ or public declarations of a lifestyle change; they can just be simple personal goals we set for ourselves.

“The substance of man cannot be measured by Gross National Product”
E.F. Schumacher

Covid-19 has compelled many of us to look at our own health routines and risk for illness. It is good to start reflecting on your own lifestyle and pay mind to habits you want to change. Start with one habit at a time. Do not overwhelm yourself by making multiple changes all at once. Gradually increase changes as you adjust to new habits and feel comfortable to add more commitments. Sometimes keeping a list allows us to visualize our progress and track changes in a reasonable timeline. Studies show that documenting lifestyle habits has been a proven way to keep individuals more attentive to their progress. Use a diary, calendar or app to track changes, but only if you find this helpful. If progress is slow or you fall off track, do not give up! Being healthy is not equated to being perfect. Maintaining a positive attitude is essential for keeping your journey smooth and strong; don’t let negativity stifle progress and diminish your health-related goals.

Small is beautiful

It seems as though we have been told for eons that bigger is better…but is this true? E.F. Schumacher, author of the best-seller Small is Beautiful writes, “wisdom demands a new orientation of science and technology toward the organic, the gentle, the elegant and beautiful.” This quote reminds us that humans are not robotic or industrial machines; we are made of soft and living materials. We are emotional beings with needs that go beyond the material and economic realm.

The clients of Grant Advance largely live this reality in their everyday work lives, since the work of non-profits and charities are uniquely human-centered enterprises. On a daily basis, we hear these stories of community resilience and triumph, yet we are not ignorant to the hardships many experienced this year.

We feel it is important to be reminded that our clients’ work has imminent value. The lives that are touched and forever changed by the efforts of countless staff and programs has more reach than what meets the eye. Often it can be hard to see the impacts of these efforts in a world that tends to value the substance of the economy more than the wellbeing of communities. Our team was recently reflecting on what our clients do for their communities, and how they lead by example in these daunting times.

“Having worked in the sector myself, I know what sort of demands are placed upon professionals in the NPO sector right now. The real success is not in the numbers, but in the benefits that community reap from the hard work of human service industry.”
Guy McPherson, Founder and President of Grant Advance

The world can feel chaotic and overwhelming at times. But in the words of E.F. Schumacher “our task—and the task of all education—is to understand the present world, the world in which we live and make our choices.”

On behalf of the team at Grant Advance, we look forward to a new year working with you.

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