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Getting Rid of Grantwriter Stress: What Did We Learn?

A few days ago, I posted about grantwriter stress, sharing my own shameful stories about licorice and gum overdosing.  The goal of the post, so to speak, was to generate some interest in the Planners and Grantwriters Roundtable held January 25th at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and sponsored by the Nonprofit Center.  I’m co-facilitator of the group along with Janet Peshek from Cathedral Center and Rochelle Dukes Fritsch from IMPACT.

It was a terrific roundtable.  Two great presenters: Sue Beck-Riekkoff from IMPACT Workplace Services and Ann Laatsch, Managing Attorney of Disability Services at Community Advocates.  Plus a group of initially kind of weary-looking but, by the end of the session, pretty upbeat group of about 15 grantwriters.

What did I learn?

  • Unrelieved stress is like those aging leftovers in the little Tupperware container in the back of your refrigerator.  The longer it’s there, the worse it’ll be when you finally take off the lid.
  • Standing on your head gives you new perspective and that can reduce your stress.  Well, not literally standing on your head but doing something that changes up your environment.  Or, if you’re a yoga-ette like Ann, actually being upside down.  You decide.
  • Another good one from Ann:  in times of stress or discomfort, curl up the sides of your mouth.  I’ve tried this occasionally when I’m in an aggravating conversation with a colleague.  It doesn’t always reduce my stress but it does make the other person wonder what you’re thinking.
  • Words matter.  And here, we’re talking mostly about self-talk.  If you know you’re going to have a crummy day, you probably will.  But if you rattle around in that top drawer to find your happy sweater, you can put your day in another direction.
  • You control you. Don’t give other people the power to control your mood or add to your stress.
  • And of course, BREATHE.  This was interesting.  Research shows that women, in particular, tend to breathe very shallowly – not good when it’s deep breathing (so you feel your midsection rise when you exhale (or was it inhale?).  Anyway, you know what I mean.  Breathe deep!

A great session.  A lot of laughs – a big stress reducer right there.  Grantwriters have a lot of stress — getting together every now and then can really help. 

Our next roundtable is April 18th (also the birthday of one of the fabulous facilitators).  Deborah Fugenschuh from the Donors Forum of Wisconsin will be our guest.

More info to follow.  But in the meantime, stand on your head and crack a few jokes.  You’ll feel a lot better!


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Stress: Let’s Put It Out!

I once was so stressed out working on a proposal that while I had a lit cigarette in the ashtray on my desk, I put a pencil in my mouth and flicked my Bic.  Since I quit smoking, I’ve been known to eat a) whole packages of black licorice (that is A LOT of black licorice, my friends!); b) whole bags of pretzels; and c) whole packages of Trident Peppermint and/or Tropical Fruit gum in the course of a proposal-writing day. 

There is gum stuck to my office floor.  Not everywhere like in a crummy theatre, but enough to raise eyebrows.  What the heck has been going on in this office? a casual observer might ask.

A deadline staring me in the face.

People who promised me essential data for a proposal suddenly getting sick.

Realizing I was following the wrong guidelines.

Knowing that I don’t know enough about the proposal topic.

Getting feedback from colleagues that is stupid and unhelpful.

Being completely and totally overwhelmed.

Knowing I will eventually do a great job but having no idea in the world how.

Always having my professional credibility on the line.

When you write a proposal, especially for something that actually matters – like places for homeless people to live or ways for parents to regain custody of their children, you tend to feel a lot of PRESSURE.  No matter how good the idea is, if it isn’t commissioned on paper as a winning proposal, it won’t be implemented.  Homeless people.  Orphaned kids.  Yipes!

By now, you might be thinking I have the answer for this.  I don’t.  But, I’m part of a small band of colleagues – the Planners and Grantwriters Roundtable at the Nonprofit Center – that gets together to talk about things like this and hear from people who have great ideas and some darn solutions.  We have a session on Grantwriter Stress coming up on Wednesday, January 25, 2012, from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at the Milwaukee Foundation.  The cost is a cheap $20 (about the price of 10 bags of pretzels).  Call the Nonprofit Center at 414-344-3933 to sign up.


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