You are a female association volunteer leader who has just taken charge of reviewing and updating the association’s Policies and Procedures. It’s a big job. In fact, it’s the most sizeable project you’ve ever taken on in this role.  

You start to question whether you can do this, and if you have what it takes. You know this will require a lot of your time and organizational skills. You start thinking of what you have on your plate at work, how you’re coaching your child’s soccer team, and the upcoming tournament.  Panic washes over you, and self-doubt hits you like a brick. Are you the right person to take on this project? Do you have what it takes? You immediately feel overwhelmed. You put your head in your hands and say to yourself, “I don’t know if I can do this?” 

Do you ever feel like you’re not enough? It’s easy to criticize yourself, but self-criticism will only chip away at your self-confidence and leave you feeling demotivated. There are strategies that you can put in place to minimize your self-judgment and increase feelings of accomplishment. Below are some valuable strategies highlighted in author Rachel Goldsmith Turow’s  The Self-Talk Workout 


Spot the Success 

Instead of a “to-do” list, try a “done” list. Write down 10 things that you’ve done today that have helped you, someone else, or the association. There is no item too small! Replying to a few emails, or sending a calendar invite for a committee meeting may feel like nothing, but each task is beneficial and each task matters. 

The goal isn’t to assess how much you’ve done or grade how well you’ve done it. It’s about recognizing and highlighting the things you’ve got done. This can build momentum and help you feel encouraged. In turn, this will help you be more productive with what you’re working on at the moment. A “done” list may also help you relax because you’re not as stressed about what you haven’t completed.


Act Before You Feel Like It

Many of us want to feel motivated to do something before we do it, such as exercising or working on insurance renewals. Jumping right into something, even if you don’t feel like doing it, can motivate you, and provide you with a sense of accomplishment. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind some days just won’t be productive. It’s okay if you reschedule that meeting because your child has the flu, kept you up half the night, and you didn’t sleep well.  You’re human and not a robot. 



Do you ever wish that your home was much more organized? I have two school-aged children, and three cats; I feel this way all the time. Professional organizers Clea and Joanna, of The Home Edit, recommend  their clients start with just one drawer, or clearing out expired food. Picking a small, manageable goal increases confidence, and makes it less likely that you’ll become overwhelmed and give up. Last weekend, I cleaned out our front hall closet, and donated a garbage bag full of things that we no longer needed. I felt like I had just climbed Mount Everest, and like I truly accomplished something. For tips on organization, check out my article The Organized Association Leader. 

You can “chunk” association work into manageable tasks. It feels a lot better to tell yourself, “I completed three specific tasks!” than to carry around the feeling that you failed at completing one big project.


This Moment Matters

Sending a meeting reminder or replying to emails can seem like small things taking you away from doing more important work you find more meaningful. Tune into the moment and really focus. Remind yourself the current activity is the only thing you must do or think about at this very moment.  Afterall, updating the association’s Policies and Procedures is a big project, made up of many small tasks. 

Increasing mindfulness can help you improve productivity. It will help you tune out distractions, and focus. Positive emotions will increase thereby decreasing negative ones. You may also be less likely to judge yourself unfairly. For more on Mindfulness, read my article Mindfulness & The Association Leader.  


You are Not Alone 

Keep in mind you have a partner in your Board Chair.  Rely on them to help clarify what priorities are key. They can advise you to ensure you’re using your time effectively and fulfilling your role on the Board. They can guide you to ensure your focus aligns with the mission and vision of the association. DirectorPrep is a great resource to help guide you in your role as an association volunteer leader. My colleague expands on Board training in his article The Crucial Orientation and Training for Association Board Members.  

I began writing this article on International Women’s Day (March 8) as I am consistently inspired by my accomplished female colleagues around me. They balance work, family, and volunteer roles. Additionally, they recognize when it’s time to step away to take a family vacation or take some time for themselves and go to a concert with friends. As female association leaders you dedicate your time to a volunteer role to help build and grow the association. You are truly inspiring. You are a leader. You are enough! 


Read more articles from Shari:

What Associations Can Learn from Regret

Courage: Try, Trust, and Tell

Giving Better Feedback as an Association Leader