Weighting for Success

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I have a confession to make.  I’m on Weight Watchers - again.  What in the world does this have to do with event planning?  You’ll see…


I joined WW for the first time in 2003 because my weight had crept up almost 10 lbs. and I was feeling “fat”.  I’m putting fat in quotation marks because although I was heavier I still fell within a normal BMI and weight range.  I’m 5’1” so even a five-pound gain really shows on me.  At the time, I was not the least bit concerned about being healthy.  It was all about how I looked compared to people around me.

So, I jumped into the WW program with both feet.  If you’re not familiar with it, WW is a points system.  You are allotted a certain number of points per day and as you eat you subtract those points from your total.

The first time I joined WW they didn’t have the online tools available today.  I was so excited when they handed me my bundle of information.  Everything came neatly packed in a cloth case.  In fact, I still have that case.  It contained a cardboard slide ruler to calculate the points of any food item.  Yes, a paper slider! My case also contained a daily food journal and booklet of information on eating healthy.


I dutifully logged my weight and measurements in the daily journal.  For 6 months, I was diligent in marking down everything I ate (ABC = all bites count). I weighed myself daily, attended meetings, and carefully logged everything I ate into my journal.

The result…I dropped 15 lbs. in 3 months and lost several inches all over. It was the lowest weight I’d been in my entire life!  Physically I looked and felt great but emotionally and psychologically I still felt fat.


As you may have guessed I didn’t keep the weight off.   Not only did I gain back the weight I had lost, I gained 30 more pounds.  That’s an overall gain of 45 lbs.!!  For a long time I told myself it wasn’t that bad, but deep down I was very unhappy.  Simple things like climbing the stairs made me winded.  I was sluggish.  I closed myself off from friends and became a hermit, eating even more. December 2017 I finally hit rock bottom and joined WW again. I was at the highest weight I’ve ever been and reached my lowest point emotionally and physically.  I’m happy to report that I have once again lost nearly 15 lbs and feel great.   So, what makes me think I’ll actually keep it off this time?  Here are the three key lessons I learned and how they apply to nonprofit events.

Lesson #1:Write down and track your goals.

Tweet it! You can’t improve what you don’t track.

Am I right?  The reason I failed at WW the first time around was because after 6 months I stopped logging what I ate.  I foolishly thought I could “eyeball” portion sizes and mentally calculate daily points in my head.  I stopped weighing myself daily so I had no gauge to mark my progress. I won’t make that mistake again.


Lesson #2:  Goals should come from within, not looking outward.  The other reason I failed miserably the first time around was because my reasons were purely external.  I wanted to lose weight for how I looked compared to others.  My goals didn’t come from within.  I constantly compared myself to people thinner than I was which made me feel like a failure even though I had successfully lost weight.  It was crazy!  If you're a small nonprofit, don't look at the large, national organizations and think you're a failure because you're not doing what they are doing.  Their success will look way different than yours.  Set your own goals for success based on what's happening in your organization.

Lesson #3:  Make sure you have a support team for your goals.  I foolishly stopped attending WW meetings.  The support I received and lessons learned in those meetings were what fueled my early success.  Had I gone back to my support group when I was starting to slide in the program I could have stayed on track.  Whether it's your staff, board members, volunteers or a professional event planner (wink, wink) make sure you have a great team in place and lean on them when needed.  I found great value in learning from others who had been through the challenges I was facing.

Bonus Lesson #4:  Enjoy the journey.  I was so focused on being "skinny" that I was doing whatever it took to get there.  I was not enjoying my life.  I was only focused on the end result.  The event planning process should be fun!  If you're not enjoying it, you have to go back to your "why".


While this may seem like a weird leap from weight loss to event planning, the lessons are applicable.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Really think about what’s important to you and your organization.

  2. Create goals that are based on a better version of where you are now instead of comparing yourself to others.

  3. Write down your goals. Share them with all stakeholders so everyone is on the same page about what success looks like.

  4. Give each goal a weight (no pun intended). Not all goals are created equal. One of your goals needs to stand out as THE most important.

  5. Use your most important goal as a guide for making decisions.

  6. Assess weekly where you are compared to your goals so you can course correct before it’s too late.

  7. Lastly, keep your head down and focused on your progress. Don’t compare your journey to someone else’s.

So don't "weight" for success (cringe-worthy pun, I know).  Write down those goals and get to work making them happen.