Inviting Pause for learning, reflecting and listening

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

From Thanksgiving until the end of 2022, I felt like I was galloping on a wild pony with my hair on fire, dashing through a briar patch. I was working to award grants, plan for 2023, connect with my teammates, beat down emails and slay a few dragons along the way. It was wild, and I ended the year tired. So, I started wondering, am I alone?

On one call with my colleague, Cari Cullen, we talked about our respective fatigue at the end of the year and its toll on our bodies, hearts and minds. Soon after that conversation, I was poking around on a social media site and saw a post by Naomi Holdt that spoke to me. I’ll share two snippets:

“So before you begin questioning the absolutely depleted and wrung-dry state you are in- Pause. Breathe. Remind yourself of who you are and what you have endured. And then remind yourself of what you have overcome.

Most of the world’s citizens are in need of a little extra TLC at the moment. Most are donning invisible “Handle with care” posters around their necks and “Fragile” tattoos on their bodies…”

Fast forward to January 2023, and I see that Inside Philanthropy, in their Philanthropy Awards 2022, described the Worst Trend of the Year as Burn Out: “Philanthropoids, nonprofit workers, heck, philanthropy journalists — we’re all tired. It’s been a tough couple of years, and yet, there’s still not much funding out there to support workers’ well-being. We hope to see that change, pronto.”

I take solace in the fact that I am thankfully not alone in my “tired.” My holiday reflection time led me to the word Pause (definition = a temporary stop in action or speech). Here are three ways that I am going to invite some Pause into my work life:

  • Pause to readThe New Humanitarian, The Daily Yonder, Inside Philanthropy, PEAK Grantmaking and many other philanthropy and general media outlets are filled with rich information, news and thinking. I am wondering if I couldn’t challenge myself to incorporate new information, beyond my usual breakfast news perusal, into my work day.
  • Pause to reflect – I stopped doing my gratitude journal during the fourth quarter of last year. My ability to focus on mini-wins definitely took a hit. I’m getting back into my groove on that front, and I aim to reflect on what I see going well on the home and work/disaster/philanthropy front. When I take the time to celebrate the grants CDP awards, the growth of our team and the excellence that I see in the disaster and humanitarian assistance space, my work benefits from the recharge.
  • Pause to listen – CDP’s team of grantmakers prioritize listening in their work. They give considerable care and attention to talking with grantee partners to learn and understand where the unmet or unfulfilled needs lie. They don’t race to the DO but rather listen and reflect on what they see on the ground and hear from their colleagues. I’ll toot their horns a bit and say that their ability to listen, connect and reflect makes them the best grantmakers out there.

Undoubtedly, the disaster, humanitarian assistance and philanthropy spaces operate at their own paces. That said, in 2023, I will endeavor to do a bit more walking rather than galloping. I invite Pause into my life with the goal of reading, reflecting and listening more carefully.