The holidays and New Year are coming up and so are many special moments. The season can also be fraught with conflicting obligations and a delusional overestimation of one’s multitasking abilities.
As we hop from client meetings to baking to compiling end-of-the-year numbers to decorating, it all seems productive and necessary to the point of exhaustion.
As coaches advise that you check in with your career or business and make that “sprint to the finish” so you end the year with optimal results, I believe that it’s time to stop, breathe and make some decisions, before hitting the gas pedal.
What specifically will you do to enjoy the season, accomplish key objectives for this year and pre-plan for next year?
With slightly more than a month remaining in the year, this is a puzzle of possibility and requires a dash of realism. That’s not a word I use lightly, as I think it creates limitations more than it helps, but sometimes it’s necessary, especially where we have time constraints.
There are three categories to consider, all require prioritization within them.
1. Enjoying the Holidays
Recognizing that the season is an opportunity to be with people you care about or want to get to know (like the holiday party with people you’ve never met), this is an excellent time to give and receive the energy that the holiday season generates.
Whether it’s laughter, love or giving to others through your service or gifts, the value in this is significant. Although it may feel like some of the activities are preventing you from doing business or obtaining a new job, the opportunity is there to boost your gratitude and positivity levels and to engage in relationship building and connecting which is as important an action as any you can take.
Decide what holiday activities are most important to you and create the space for them. Recognize their importance and embrace the time spent.
2. Current year – Career or Business
Identify the most important projects to complete before year-end to feel most accomplished in this year. It’s time to isolate that ONE thing (or perhaps two or three) that, if completed, will satisfactorily complete the year. This requires that you know where you are, what goals have been reached and what is still pending or not yet started.
This is not the time for fantasy thinking (that’s the next section), so be brutally honest with yourself about time and energy.
If you’ve reached your annual goals, then now is your chance to acknowledge your victory, and either commit to going beyond your plans for the year with something extra or putting your energy somewhere else.
If behind, it’s time to take a critical look at what the options are and what will feel the best to have finished by New Year’s Day.
It could be the project that adds the most to the financial bottom line, or the most difficult, challenging task that you have put off all year. Ask yourself, what do I need to do to feel complete in this year? The key is to answer this question without judgment about the events of the year overall?
You can decide, and give that choice 100% focus while eliminating competing interests, at least for this year. The caveat is that this project has to be something that can be done, or a portion of it done in the time remaining.
If you cannot finish it or make a sizeable contribution to its completion in the next month, it is a project for next year’s plan.
Decide, believe it to be the right choice, schedule it into your calendar, and don’t second guess. It may be simple, like finishing your resume or website. Sometimes our biggest barriers are small projects. The decision you make is “good enough.”
3. Visioning Next Year
Avoid the trap of waiting until January to start planning for the next year. Pre-plan now so you can actually start working your plan when the year begins. Everything starts with a vision, so at a minimum, get clear on your vision for the new year and the reason why it is important to you.
Now is the time to update your vision, because everything going forward depends on it. If you are visioning in January, then you will be planning strategies and tactics after that and ultimately it will be February before you are truly executing on your vision.
That in itself is deflating to know that you are a month behind at the start.
It’s called visualizing because you are creating a picture in your imagination of how your work and life will look. This may feel optional, but it’s much more critical than it sounds.
So, I would suggest you schedule some time for this, locate yourself somewhere beautiful, sit down, close your eyes, and imagine.
Spend time (several hours) just thinking of what your career, business, finances, and life could be and capture it through pictures (vision boarding) or write it down on paper, or both. The foundation of any planning is to visualize and to actually see yourself as if you are there and then to document that imagery.
It’s priceless to create the vision and to keep it in front of you and in your focus on a daily basis.
What is your vision? Are you sitting in a new office? Are you surrounded by new people? Are you at home working in your pajamas? What is your vision for what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with? Where are you and what is the actual work? Who are you serving? What good are you doing in the world?
From that vision, and an understanding of the reason you want the vision you want (your WHY), the target is clear and you are inspired to persevere. Plans are flimsy without these two key building blocks. And with them, your plans can be designed with ease.
If you can take a little time to construct your vision now, you will be empowered in January with both the vision and the energy of the New Year. Your holidays will be a little bit more merry and bright.