Sustain Your Journey

We’ve all come across projects launched with fervor and ready to take on the world – only to see them deflate after that first exciting meeting. It’s no easy feat to sustain change efforts over time, but we think a few key components, integrated into your approach, can help provide the stamina and renewal needed for a long journey.

Evaluate your work

To sustain momentum, it’s critical to check in on your projects during and after the implementation period to help you measure impacts and monitor progress on an ongoing basis. Explore ways of identifying where the implementation of the project or initiative is working well – or not.
Evaluating the process of change is as important as measuring impact itself..

There are many ways to evaluate your work – the key is to understand what kind of evaluation process is right for you. The process of building an evaluation framework will take time and any evaluation plan will need to consider a range of factors.

  • Before you even begin, decide what “success” will look like and how you’ll know it happened.
  • Don’t wait for the end to evaluate; collect evidence of action in the moment, while it’s occurring.
  • Capture both successes, failures and unexpected results to deeply learn from the process and to improve future action.

Advocate & Weave work together

Positively changing the lives of kids is a complex objective. You will be working amidst many influences from a variety of environments. No one intends to create fragmented, short-lived projects, yet sustained change is more likely when efforts are intentionally woven into a system of care and support for all kids. A coordinated approach from networks and partnerships across all levels of society, contributes to positive development during the middle years.

Evidence-informed ideas are the catalysts for change. Your actions will make a difference for many children when they have aspects of capacity building, systems leadership and organizational learning. And while those terms may seem lofty, they describe the critical components of building that very system that will foster a world where kids thrive.

This looks like:

  • Ongoing learning
  • Keeping relationships at the center
  • Maintaining a strength-based approach
  • Collaborating with others
  • Acknowledging and increasing knowledge of the system-level influences on child well-being
  • Championing a collective focus on children’s social and emotional development

To begin with, systems-level initiatives will likely require buy-in and additional financial or staff support. In conjunction with the activities you’re already undertaking, it’s critical to advocate for additional awareness and resources to ensure your efforts are being recognized and to help unlock additional help.

Using MDI data as a baseline, combined with evaluations of your own change efforts, can be a powerful, data-supported way to draw attention to the issue of child well-being and move levers outside your own sphere of influence.

Celebrate your hard work

Anyone committed to building a world in which children can truly thrive knows that the work is never done. But don’t let that mindset prevent you from celebrating the small, medium, and large successes that your work has produced!

Congratulate yourselves for committing to a data-informed journey to making change in your school or community. Recognize the efforts you and your team have made at regular intervals and remind each other of your commitment to the enterprise. Taking time to acknowledge the contributions and progress toward your collective work is key. And don’t forget to celebrate the strengths already present and revel in those assets – relationships, happiness, fun – which best bolster well-being at all ages.