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Activist or Nonprofit Wish Lists vs Goals

Updated on March 13, 2015
Sustainable Sue profile image

Triggered by experiences with wildlife as a Peace Corps volunteer, Susette became an earth-friendly activist, while also working full time.

Wish lists can be handwritten or keyed in and emailed. Most of us learned how to make one when we were kids.
Wish lists can be handwritten or keyed in and emailed. Most of us learned how to make one when we were kids. | Source

Because I had been feeling so overwhelmed this week, this morning I decided to write out a fun little wish list to make myself feel better. I remembered having done one a few years ago that actually turned out to be pretty interesting. This morning I decided to let 'er rip and put down even silly things.

I ended up with 35 wishes (many that were related and a couple of repeats) with all of them making sense. Surprisingly, I also noticed I'd started acting on many of them. That triggered me to see what would be left, if I combined the related ones and took out those I was acting on. There were five left. Thirteen points of action, that were already leading directly to my wishes being fulfilled, and five left to start at a later date. I felt so productive!

Wish Lists, Goal Planning, & Synchronicity

A wish list helps you get focused and become really clear on what it is you want, so that as events present themselves you will know how to react, because you know where you're going. A wish list is similar to goal planning, but includes your feelings, which are essential for encouraging synchronicity (they're the magnetic element).

Goals are usually dry and straightforward. They're often things you think you "should" do or have or be. Most of them don't speak to your feelings, so you have to really push to make them work. And any goals or "wishes" that do speak to feelings always win out. I don't know how many goals I've set that I soon had no desire to work on.

Wish lists, on the other hand, stem directly from feelings. They help you stand up for yourself when others want something else. They're especially powerful when you share them with others who want something similar. They'll help you make decisions more quickly, be more articulate about them, and will magnetize events into your life that bring what you wish for more quickly than anything you could have devised. This is called synchronicity.

Synchronicity is what happens when you meet someone for the first time who has been looking for your services, or who has a piece of expensive equipment you've been longing for that he/she offers to donate. It's the Photoshop software you find on a freebie list-serve. It's the part time job that feels so right when you need financial support to continue your activism.

These things come your way when you know what you want, feel good about it, and are willing to be patient until it's clearly time to act. The clearer you are, the more quickly they come. Some people call it "luck."

Sit in a quiet, peaceful place with pen and paper in hand. Envision the results you long for. Write them down as wishes.
Sit in a quiet, peaceful place with pen and paper in hand. Envision the results you long for. Write them down as wishes. | Source

Changing Short & Long Term Goals to a Wish List

You can either start your wish list from scratch or convert your goals list, short or long term, to a wish list. Here is how to do that.

First, take out a pen and writing tablet, and collect your short and long term goals lists. Sit down in a comfortable place without distractions. Look through your lists, then set them aside and close your eyes. Give yourself permission to get imaginative and silly, and even a little brave. You want to break through any fears or other barriers you have toward getting what you want.

Breathe deeply. Get centered. Ask yourself what would make your nonprofit (or activist) work feel really good. Ask yourself what it would look like and how you would feel, if it were awesomely successful. You're basically doing a feeling-based brainstorm.

Now write down everything you wish you had (objects, skills, help) that would make it work better, look better, or feel better. Pull from your goals lists anything that feels really good. Here are a few examples.

Do you wish for a good outreach tool, like a monthly newsletter? It takes writing and layout skills, and great word processing or design software. This was created with Adobe InDesign, which I found through
Do you wish for a good outreach tool, like a monthly newsletter? It takes writing and layout skills, and great word processing or design software. This was created with Adobe InDesign, which I found through | Source

Outreach Wish List

If your nonprofit group is mostly working well already, but there is one area that's a real hassle, make wishes for that one area only. Here is an example related to outreach:

- I wish I knew more about public relations.

- I wish I had time for outreach without risking the rest of my work.

- I wish I had a volunteer to help with PR and outreach.

- I wish I had the equipment I need to do better outreach, especially to write newsletters and make flyers.

- I wish I had a better website with great photographs and a strong message.

Keep going until you run out. If you are not focusing on a particular area, but on your nonprofit as a whole, then go ahead and wish your heart out.

Activist Nonprofit Wish List

Here is the wish list I came up with for my activist nonprofit group:

- I wish I could find decent volunteers, who would walk their talk. (They're starting to come now, finally.)

- I wish I had a good advisor I could trust. (Got it.)

- I wish our local politicians would take us more seriously. (They are. Our mayor knows who we are now, and so does our state legislative rep.)

- I wish I had a bigger office with a perfect feng sui layout. (It's maybe not perfect, but it's twice as big.)

- I wish I had an iMac with a giant screen and the exact software I need. (Now I want a new one.)

- I wish donations would just come to me without my having to do anything. (I have to give an annual 5 minute request speech now, but it's kind of fun.)

- I wish I knew more about fundraising or knew someone who does. (Don't really need this one now.)

Keep going until you run out. Remember not to wish for the money to do something specific, but for that thing itself. Wishing for money makes you so focused on the money, that you don't notice opportunities to receive stuff for free. And there are many of those.

If you're creating this wish list for the success of the nonprofit as a whole, it's always a good idea to include other volunteers in the wish listing. In that case, you might want to do this exercise during a regular meeting or, better yet, during your group's annual retreat. Then combine your lists into a master list.

Evaluate your Wish List

You want a powerful list that is clear and focused, so now that you have your list, it's time to evaluate it:

  1. Cross out any duplicates or semi-duplicates, BUT put a star next to the one you're keeping. If you've duplicated it, that's an indication it should be a top priority.
  2. Now go through to see what you're already taking action on. This would include items where the thing you're asking for would result naturally from carrying out another action.

    For example, several of my items required me to have more time. I had already committed to going to bed earlier at night, having recognized that whenever I do, I wake up early in the morning alert and ready to go. This helps me work more quickly and accurately, which gets more done, which gives me more time. That took care of three of my items, so going to bed earlier became a top priority.
  3. Next, look to see what can be combined with another that actually enhances the vision, or produces a more complete picture.

    An example of this would be to combine the wish for a new office with the wish for better office equipment. Or combine the wish to know more about fundraising with the wish to find someone to do your fundraising for you.
  4. Now look to see what's left over that you're not taking action on yet and that you cannot combine. How crucial are those things? Are they things you'll need in the future, but don't right now? There's a good chance that something you're doing now will bring them to you in an unexpected way, so let them go. Let them be for the future.

The only way you will need to keep any of the "leftover" items is if one of them is key to carrying out a number of items you have already started acting on. If so, then drop the related items and do this first. There's always the chance that carrying out this one key item will make the others unnecessary.

The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons
The Priority List: A Teacher's Final Quest to Discover Life's Greatest Lessons
Wish listing helps you see your real priorities. In this book the author, diagnosed with cancer, explores the priorities of his former students to see what is really important in life.

Prioritize the Action Items

Take your action items and put them in order:

  • Which one will make others easier?
  • Which one do you know how to do best?
  • Which one is most fun ( a good indicator that this is connected to your real mission).
  • With which one are you furthest along?

Consider putting these on top and completing them first. Make yourself some kind of chart that you can put stars next to whenever you finish an item. I know that's grade schoolish, but it can give you subtle feelings of fulfillment and excitement, even as you laugh at yourself.

Now take action. Know that when you act on your wishes, it's a signal to the "universe" that you are serious about wanting these things. Electro-magnetically, it sends streams of your energy outward that connects with what you want and attracts it to you.

We are electro-magnetic beings. We attract people and situations to us all the time. Why not become conscious of the process and attract what you want? Life can become really exciting when you bank on synchronicities to help yourself thrive.

Wish List Poll

What do you use most often to guide your activist work?

See results

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