Plan Your 2019 Off-Season!

by Marcy Heim on December 27, 2018

Walter Bond

You can create your off-season!


Let me share a story. Last year I earned my Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) credential!  Wohoo!  Turns out the National Speakers Association hosts a conference JUST for CSP’s to gather and grow.  One of our session leaders was Walter Bond – a former NBA professional basketball player. Now he’s a motivational speaker booking over 100 speaking appearances every year (my dream). A few years into speaking he was feeling like he wasn’t “on top of his game.”  Then he realized that as a professional basketball player, he always had an “off-season.”Marcy Heim with CSP medal

Off-season training is considered the most important phase of any conditioning plan. It helps the athlete recover physically and psychologically. Playing sports at competitive maximums is taxing on the human body. It is common sense: You cannot race a car hard every single day at the track without something eventually breaking down.

The human body (hear YOUR human body) responds in much the same way.

As development and advancement professionals, there has been a shift….while our year-end work does intensify, do we really have a “slow” time? Like that race car, you can’t push hard day after day without something eventually breaking down…like you.

What would your off-season look like?

YOU can create your OWN off-season!

OK!  You can create your own off-season keeping these REMARKABLE characteristics in mind:

  1. REMOVE. You separate yourself from “business as usual.”

More important than the amount of time – one hour, one afternoon, one day, one week – it’s feeling like you are in a different place. It’s a mindset!  NOT at your desk, NOT in your office.  Away from what is yelling at you to take care of next in that space.  Away from the routines and habits in that space.

  1. REFLECT. You reflect – without judging.

Looking back on your past year in advancement work – fundraising, marketing, communications, constituent relations – reflect.  Consider the days you felt like a rock star. What made that feeling? Consider the days you wanted to quit. What made that feeling? Not through the lens of “I should have… been better prepared.” “Started earlier” etc. NO JUDGEMENT. Just sit with your calendar and look back over the year and FEEL your energy change as you remember.

CSP Mastermind Group

  1. REFRESH. You practice skills.

For athletes, this time is an opportunity to practice but at a much lower intensity and volume than during your competitive season. So practice planning a major gift ask, practice the ask. This is NOT when you MUST GET THE GIFT at year end!!! Our ‘competitive season.’ Improve on the fundamentals. Enjoy your visits when the quarterly or year-end numbers aren’t bearing down on you. Actually be in the conversation at the moment.


  1. RE-ENERGIZE.  You revisit your passion – your ‘why.’ 

It’s never about the money – it’s always WHAT THE MONEY DOES.  Remember how inspiring science literacy, securing a spiritual connection, lifting up a Jewish heritage, feeding hungry people or pets, rewarding academic excellence, restoring health ….whatever it is that brought you to this place.  AND…check in, is the passion still there? If not, how do you find it again?

  1. RECHARGE. You are a unique gift.

Remember that you are a unique gift to the world. You bring perspectives, love, empathy, stories, and opportunities to others in a way no one else does. Rest, walk, add white space, workout, clean out the file drawer, purge electronic files, get with friends, read, whatever physically and emotionally recharges you. The conditioning work done in this time stabilizes you for the higher-intensity demands to come in the “competitive seasons.”

  1. REJOICE.  You are grateful.It's not Happy People who are Thankful

You GET to do this work. You GET to connect a giver to their joy. You GET to listen to others and help them invest in what is important to them. You GET to build relationships and document them so they become life-long for your organization. You GET to do this work AND you GET to serve your friends and family. Remember, it is the most basic law of physics – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Perhaps your spouse or kids don’t seem to appreciate your service and support… MUST come back to you, but it can be from anyone, anywhere. Drop the scoreboard and rejoice.


Happy New Year! It’s gonna be a GREAT ONE!

Invest in JOY®



Marcy Heim is a trusted authority in the development profession and helps organizations and educational institutions boost their major gift programs through artful, long-term relationship building that dramatically increases fundraising success while promoting increased staff job satisfaction. To receive a free chapter from Marcy’s book, Empower Your Board to Serve as Effective Development Ambassadors, click here.

Questions:  Contact KK Konicek at

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