I’ve written about not burning yourself out with causes outside of your own organization, but I’ve been finding that I’m needing to turn down the effort I’m putting into my own organization. This has happened to me before; when I first built my non-profit’s website, I think I went from its inception to launching the site (with a full 15 pages) in less than 60 hours. Our website was certainly quite basic at the time, but powering through to complete it in that short period of time burnt me out, and was completely unnecessary.
Over the past several years there have been moments where I have had to curb some of my manic tendencies; when I start a project or try to brainstorm a new idea for a program it’s hard for me to stop or concentrate on anything else. My brain becomes a non-profit hamster wheel that doesn’t stop, and usually picks up the pace when I should be asleep.
This past week we had a 24 fundraising campaign, and I was tempted to stay up through the whole 24 hours and push through surviving on caffeine and show tunes. It honestly made perfect sense to do this, until mentioning it out loud to my girlfriend. A part of me knew that it was a horrid idea and I would never stay awake for the full 24 hours even with copious amounts of caffeine. And if I did manage to stay awake, it wouldn’t have been pretty.
I understand these bouts of overdrive mode are not healthy, and are not necessarily conducive to completing something well and on time. It’s really hard to curb these tendencies. There’s still a tiny part of me that wants to believe that my organization’s success relies on the need to sacrifice my health. This thought process was formed through years of struggling with my mental health. I thought that the more I suffered, the better the output would be.
I didn’t stay up the straight 24 hours. Was the fundraiser as successful as I wanted it to be? No. Would it have been better if I stayed wake the whole time? No.
I enjoy putting myself into my organization, but I am still learning how to not go into extreme overdrive to the point where my non-profit is a great priority than my health. Where to draw the line is staring to become clearer, but it’s still difficult to not pass over it and keep running.
Honestly, a part of me still feels guilty if I don’t burn myself out completely on a project. If I don’t pour every ounce of myself into my organization how will it be a success? Would people question my passion and my loyalty?
I need to come to terms that, no matter what I do or how passionate I am or how much effort I put forth, someone is always going to think I should have done something differently. I know what I put into my non-profit, and so do a lot of other people. Especially our constituents. So at the end of the day, if I put forth a solid effort and our constituents re happy with my work, then I have nothing to worry about.
I’m truly happy with the amount of work I put into my organization, and I need to give myself a break for not wanting to stay up for 24 hours straight on a fundraising binge.
I need to keep reminding myself that I am doing my best, and that I can still kick ass and take names within healthy boundaries.