Timeline or Deadline stress!

by Marcy Heim on September 13, 2023

stressed woman

You missed the deadline. Maybe didn’t sleep much worrying about it. Or perhaps you slept just fine and rolled your eyes about the colleague who is an over-the-top jerk about her self-created deadlines.  Perhaps you know full well that you can get your part done, and done well, without being weeks ahead. It’s downright frustrating that others need to create a crisis around completing a few simple tasks.

Deadlines are always part of life. For it to be a REAL deadline, something has to happen. Historically a deadline was the line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot – that’s pretty real. No stress in that, right? So for most of us a deadline is something definite – the wedding, the grant submission date, December 31st, your presentation day, the vacation, the show.

Then there is the timeline! A timeline is actually when you do the work. Ideally a timeline takes away the stress of a deadline. Timelines have flex. Deadlines don’t… unless they are self or management imposed deadlines and this can bring the stress right back.

You see, timelines reduce the stress of deadlines ONLY if created based on the ability of your weakest link – in skill or mindset!

Plan your year-end timelines and deadlines based on the weakest link in the process.

Truths about timelines and deadlines – Creating good timelines and deadlines depends upon several factors:

1. Our beliefs and mindset. What it will take to execute the timeline (and meet a deadline) will impact the steps, space, and check-in’s we believe are needed. They reflect our own perception of the task and its difficulty or ease.

2. Our experience, individually or as a group. If this is a task/process we have done forever, we have people we’ve worked with for years, etc, our timeline is more flexible. Covid shook this up for a lot of us. This impacts timeline, not the real deadline.

3. Our personal self-confidence in our ability to do our part of the work.For example, if we are a long time speaker we need different prep time than the beginning speaker who wants ample time to rehearse.

4. Our overall self-confidence/self esteem. If we are confident and have high self-esteem, this is reflected in our approach to all our work. Likewise, if we struggle with feeling like we are not enough, do not get the respect we feel we should, or have perfectionist qualities it can manifest significantly in timeline work.

5. Our belief in our colleagues doing the task with us. This is about your staff colleagues as well as outside vendor colleagues. If a printer is always late, you build in time to deal with this (or seek another source). If you don’t have faith in your colleagues – you feel they don’t have the same level of dedication or experience you do, you feel they have let you down in the past, or you feelyou can count on them.

Being kind and liked is more important than being right or - often you're actually neither.

6. Our fear of unknowns.  What if? Sure, being prepared for unexpected delays, illness, or competing projects has a place. But be sure to also manifest a clear road, AND that you can easily be bigger than any problem that comes along.

Generosity blossoms in the last quarter of the year. Generally 1/3 of US individual giving (around $105,600,000,000 of the total $320,000,000,000 in 2022) happens in December – 12% in the last three days of the year.  As we enter our year-end planning and our key work with major donors remember these keys to success.

Key Do’s and Don’ts for successful timelines and deadlines (and year-end planning)!

1. Remember the difference between timelines and deadlines. Don’t create deadlines in timelines – that puts all the stress back into them!  Check-in’s that foster open space for participants to be at different places along the timeline build trust and actually make people more inclined to stay on the timeline.

inspire and create excitement

2. Inspire and create excitement for the results of working a timeline. All participants (this may not be the lead, but great if it is!) can support success by bringing positive energy to the work. Good managers and leaders know that getting angry, critical or reminding people, “I even put this deadline in your calendar” doesn’t foster strong working relationships.  

3. Balance passion and collegiality.  YOU are passionate about how this process, event, and/or year-end fundraising happens! You are dedicated, you care, and you want to do excellent work. Urg! How can others be so incompetent? Why don’t they follow-through? Don’t they see that your ideas are better?  Don’t they care? How do they still have their job?!!!

How our events, mailings, whatever looks and runs IS important. People will react/judge typos, long registration lines, and weeds. But it is MORE IMPORTANT to foster positive caring relationships and not make it about you and your performance demons.

I often say we have a calling – not a job. Yet, when our passion invades the tone and wording in emails, finds us complaining to leadership, getting angry, demanding action, and worse – gossiping about colleagues – we do nothing to inspire generosity, success and abundance. They just earn you a title – and generally not a good one. If you are constantly complaining about how much work you do, that you aren’t appreciated or supported, etc know that this really reflects YOUR victim mentality – poor me, and you can change that!

Drop the victim. Drop the blame. Decide to shine today!

Drop the victim. Drop the blame. Decide to shine today. Your timelines, and also your whole life, will be a happier process and your deadlines will produce the results you are after! Ta da tad a……CHARGE!

Invest in JOY®


Turn the mood around!

by Marcy Heim on August 23, 2023

Consider for a moment…

RJ & Maeve
  • Your first face-to-face visit with a key prospective giver. You feel awkward but determined to do your best.
  • Being in a challenging family situation. You feel you cannot say a word that will be “heard” correctly. It’s just too charged.
  • Your new boss who latches onto the ALL the donors. You feel embarrassed and powerless.

Do you know people who enter the scene and immediately change the mood? Do you have friends/family that can “snap you out of it?” Here are two – son, RJ, 29th birthday on Sunday and daughter Carly’s baby (our granddaughter) Maeve, 9 months.

You can be a switch-flipper...
David, RJ, Mom and Dad

During the past 15 days I experienced the basement flooding, a beautiful wedding, a baby in the house, hosting 80+ people for a party in 92 degree humid heat, client challenges, my son and daughter visiting from far away, old band mates returning, birthdays, the refrigerator dying, and meeting my very first coaching client in person. 

Here’s the thing. Throughout all of this, I observed people and actions that flipped the switch – changed the mood – lightened the problem and cracked the tension with laughter – in a word – JOY MAKERS.

How to be a JOY MAKER!

Abrielle & Bert

1. Bring energy. When you choose to show up with energy it’s contagious.

2. Smile. Try looking at someone with a big happy smile and not smile back!

3. Make Music. Play it, sing it. Dance to it! Happy Birthday to you! ABBA. The Beer Barrel Polka.

4. Shut down the negative.  Not one more word about the heat today! Don’t give more precious life time to the negative feeling, person, etc.

5. Be Goofy and Fun. “Professional” does not mean stiff.

6. Know one good joke. “What did one strawberry say to the other strawberry? I said if we laid in this bed together we’d end up in a jam!” (It’s been laughed at for 40 years.)

7. Focus on others. It’s just not about you – your feelings, your expectations, your disappointments, your food preferences, blah blah, blah. When you focus on others your own burdens lift. Your winning shouldn’t mean others have to lose.

8. Create an Anchor.  Give yourself a physical cue to change a bad mood. Touch your elbow; rub your chin – whatever – but condition yourself that this trigger changes your mood. (Tony Robbins)

 9. Declare Gratitude. 92 degrees? I’m grateful it’s not raining!

10. Give. Give tips. Give chocolate chip cookies. Give compliments.  BE ABUNDANT!

Decide now that you are goint to be a joy-maker.

JOY MAKERS can Flip Switches! Break the frustration, pain, hurt, anger, and exhaustion. Beat the heat and calm the nerves. Decide you can be one! 

And here’s the best part – when you are a joy-maker, you feel JOYFUL!

Heidi & Marcy

This week my very FIRST coaching client, now a successful major gift officer, Heidi Ihrig, was in Madison celebrating her birthday AND her wedding anniversary! She chose to stop in to see me!  WHAT A JOY! Just so happened I had just ordered my very FIRST Artful Asker mug – the perfect gift.

Invest in JOY®


Opportunity Knocks

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The Virginia Fund Raising Institute was such a blast! The singing during my keynote was exceptional with one guy providing a solo of “People love to give me money!” I gave him an opportunity to sing, and he grabbed it! Stacy Nixon, CFRE, saw sponsoring my book for everyone at the conference as an opportunity […]

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Volunteer Led – Staff Driven – Major Gifts and Your Board

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Can you believe we had 50+ at our home this weekend! The Heim Family Reunion! I was MOST excited about my gardens. All those nights Ken and I watered no matter what! It was SO worth it!   Last week I had a chance to reconnect with a good friend, client, and active board member.  Let’s […]

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Lot’s of Balls in the air?

July 12, 2023

YIKES! Are you ever afraid one of those many balls-in-the-air is falling? Perhaps your amazing life is also filled with your wonderful summer-connecting donor conversations, fireworks (at least 3 shows), family reunions – probably that you are hosting – and all sorts of summer fun! I get to fretting sometimes – being truly transparent here.  […]

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In the good ole summertime!

June 28, 2023

So often you are told not to “cultivate” TOO LONG! Get to that ask for goodness sake! Actually, real people can take real time with other real people – your spouse, your kids, your friends, your DONORS! What do I mean? Take in a ball game. Go to an outside summer concert. Eat ice cream. […]

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How do you think about things?

June 14, 2023

  I was doing a webinar for Bloomerang in a Sheraton conference room in Des Moines, Iowa en route from Madison, Wisconsin to a client dinner event in Denver and my speaking gig in Colorado Springs. What could possibly go wrong? I’ve done scores of these. Set to connect for No-Nonsense Must-Haves for Major Giving Success,  I was […]

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Couch to the Living Room Part 4 –Respectfully Keeping the Conversation Going

May 24, 2023

SUMMER! YES! Here in Wisconsin, we REALLY appreciate summer! For me it means Outdoor Shows with the Highlights! Summer looks SO LONG now – yet I know WHAM – it will be September, and major year-end giving time will be here. Yet the days can slip by. Weeks too.  I’ll argue that summer should feel different – […]

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Couch to the Living Room Part 3 –Authentically Connecting With Major Givers

May 10, 2023

WowZaa! Nothing makes me SMILE BIGGER than feeling the energy of 300 to 3000 people intent on making the world a better place!  (Makes me SING, too, of course!)  Bravo and Cheers to my incredible colleagues at NAVIGATE in Huntsville and FORWARD, the Boys and Girls Club National Conference in Orlando. It’s good to be […]

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From the Mailbox to the Living Room Part 2 – Securing the first In-Person Appointment.

April 26, 2023

Over 3600 joined me for AFP ICON. Wowza! New Orleans never disappoints – it’s vibrant, colorful and full of music! For me, the ‘highlight’ was being together. Two people will forever bring me a smile of hope – Misty Copeland, our opening keynote, for the kind and positive way she embraces EVERYONE. (Her last comment […]

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