Episode 143 | What to Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

As I look back on my nearly 40 years of life, I can tell you how many different major things just didn’t go my way.  When I think back to those things and what I actually wanted, I am completely grateful and thankful that things did NOT go my way.  But I know when we’re in the middle of it all, some of those things can feel heart-wrenching and frustrating.  I had a lot of those feelings – especially when it came to my fundraising efforts.  When I was working on one of my biggest fundraisers, I got to the point where I was literally crying out to God for help because I was so emotionally exhausted after trying to find the chairpersons for the event.  I had knocked on every door and thought I had run out of options.  When we finally got the couple we’d wanted to say yes to chairing, the day we sat down to go over the logistics of what it would all look like, the wife looked at me and said, “I have so many things going on in my life right now, I don’t need another damn thing.”  And my heart sank.  I knew they weren’t the right couple for the event.  As lovely a couple as they were, they had a lot going on in their lives and ultimately, they made the right decision for their family.  It all worked out in the end, but in the moment, I was heartbroken because I’d worked so hard to get to the yes.

Through my decades of fundraising, one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that you cannot control timing.  When someone is meant to have a position on your committee, you can’t rush the process.  We want everything to happen in our timing, and sometimes it just doesn’t go our way.  I want to talk today about how to cope with this and how to move forward

First, who says what the right way is? 

We often have a vision of what something is going to look like.  There are twists and turns that you don’t foresee.  In my previous jobs, there was someone there telling me how I was going to do things – there’s this event, happening on this day and time, this is how much money you have to raise and if you don’t, then you’re a failure.  Over time I came to realize that it really doesn’t matter how you get there, just as long as you do.  And sometimes, we don’t even know what the end result should look like.  I want to debunk the myth that there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.  As long as we are focused on the mission and the vision is coming true, then victory!  Mission accomplished.  It’s not about how we get there, it’s the fact that we got there. 

You must reframe how you look at certain moments in your life.    

It’s so much better when you look at life as an experiment.  You’re going to try this or that and see how it works.  If it’s not working, then you move on to the next trial until you figure it out.  You don’t know what life is going to bring, but in the end, it’s most likely going to be exactly what you need.  I know you’re probably thinking, yeah that’s great when you look back, but what about when you’re in the heat of it all?

It’s easy to want to rush through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. 

When my husband and I were working to pay off our student loan debt, we were listening to a lot of Dave Ramsey.  Oftentimes people would call into his show and say, “I can do A, or I can do B.”  And his response was usually, “well, what about C, D, and E?”  There are never just two options when it comes to making decisions.  I want you to take a moment and reflect over the decisions you’ve made in your life; how often did it end up being a “C” option?  It’s about being extra creative about making things work.  Don’t go to anger and worry.  Anger might make you feel better in the moment but won’t get you anywhere in the end.  As for worry, only 8% of all the things you worry about could actually happen because most of it is made up nonsense in our heads. 

When you’re going through trying times, think about what could happen.

Working out what could go wrong and the worst-case scenario helps you start debunking the Henny Penny story that’s going on in your head.  Take a step back and evaluate what is happening.  Realize that you are not alone, and when things don’t your way, know that you did the best you could with the information you had at the time.  When you have a lot going on in your mind, I encourage you to journal.  Get the thoughts out of your head and on paper.  If journaling isn’t your thing, find a mentor you can talk with to get things off your chest.  Just know that everything is going to turn out ok, and probably go better than you expected.  Life is always going to twist and turn, and you must find a way to enjoy the journey.  Feel empowered by the fact that you get to make decisions.  Start looking for opportunities to learn and grow.  Give yourself some grace and remind yourself that it’s all going to work out. 

Connect with Mary:

Mary Valloni



Fundraising Freedom Roadmap

Nonprofit Executive Club

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