Ending the year stronger

  1. There are 3 months left to this year – is it going to be about shopping, political shenanigans or about the deeper questions that help us grapple with how we each want to have a ‘better’ life and for some, improve humanity?
  2. This year has been a challenging one for most everyone. Many, if not most, were caught off guard by the chaos of the year and were not personally prepared for shut downs, health scares, isolation, family members passing on from a pandemic and existential considerations of their own and their family’s future.
  3. We can choose to go forward as we have been – or we can choose to consider how to end the year in a stronger position.
  4. By making the time to be thoughtful and intentional about the next three months, we can each be better placed for the new year and new decade.
  5. Part of being strategic is building in flexibility and adaptability and compassion for ourselves when things don’t happen the way we planned.

The reality is that there are a plethora of programs, books, workshops, seminars and worksheets out there that will tell you how to do goal setting, help you mind-map, do creative planning and build your life. If you are searching for a ‘system’ or ‘tool’ that works for you, it can seem a bit overwhelming at times, can’t it? And maybe it is just about picking one, committing to it and getting started….and finishing it. Sounds pretty easy doesn’t it….too bad life gets in the way.

How do we narrow down the noise?

I myself struggle with this question. Because I know that marketing is important, I’m on numerous email lists so I can keep learning, see how others ‘do it’, and keep an eye on changes in the industry. I am on email lists about WordPress, the main website content management software that I am working on for clients, plus lists about web design, website business, freelancing, entrepreneurship and the like. I believe in “practicing what I preach” so I have a multitude of online courses that I have paid for that range from how to start and build your business, to personal development, to personal interests like learning how to draw better. I limit my social media and TV consumption, but its part of my daily life as well. What about you?

What strategies do you use to cut down the noise? To be strategic about your consumption?

Have you thought about this before? Is it time to tweak your methods?

Remember, sometimes saying ‘no’ will give you the freedom of time and mental energy to say ‘yes’ to that which you really want.

How do we find a path to follow?

Aside from cutting down the noise, getting clear about what we REALLY want is also going to help us finish the year stronger. It can be difficult to find a path forward with so many conflicting options and opinions. The core question for me seems to have become – will I choose my own path, or will I wander and see what occurs? I’ve lived my life both ways and looking back, I wish I’d learned to be more strategic when I was younger. I’d like to persuade you that regularly spending a little bit of time getting clear about what you want out of life is very valuable.

The image I chose for this article is emblematic for me and I hope strikes a cord with you as well. Like the iceberg analogy, its clear that there is vastly more mountain below and in other directions than where the climber is stopped. The top of the mountain is in sight, which feels great to know this achievement is in reach and that ‘I’ve climbed a mountain’ already! The sky stretches off into the distance, reminding me that there is a whole, great big world out there that is waiting to be explored. A world that I can’t see from where I am standing and yet, there is SO much possibility! Clich√© perhaps, and yet, it speaks to me about having achieved so much, having goals that I’m working towards, and also existence of so many possibilities on the horizon.

What does the image invoke for you? Does it resonate with you at all? Why or why not?

What mountains have you scaled that you can celebrate yourself for?

Knowing there are multiple paths forward, are you choosing your mountain top or just meandering along towards it? Is this ok, or do you want something different?

Do you know your path already? Are you ready to go faster, or is it time to review and revise?

What are the most important things to do before December 31?

There is certainly a need for long term goal setting and dreaming and visions and missions that span time. A path inherently goes somewhere, right? And yet, there are stops along the way and the last quarter of the year seems to me to be a great natural stopping point.

If you are like me and have multiple things on your to-do lists that you haven’t gotten to, maybe the list needs to be re-prioritized. I really think there are a few key questions that we can consider at this point in life:

What can you quickly do that will protect your family and assets? Do you have a will? a power of attorney? Have you created a list of your online logins so you know about all of your accounts? What insurance needs to be renewed?

For your business, have you collected the foundations of your business intelligence so you feel strong in your position and decisions you need to make? (Heard of the man who ran a digital financial company who died and no one else knew how to login to his systems? Millions of dollars were locked up and clients lost their money.)

What one thing can you do each week that will move XYZ forward? Ask yourself: what three things could I do right away that will make me feel good about where I am in my life?

How do we ensure that we follow through?

Procrastinators unite! Unite in a commitment to stop procrastinating on at least the important stuff. I’m guilty of procrastinating too! Rationalizing that ‘it wasn’t that important anyway’ is not an effective strategy for any of us! I think this is where self-development and self-knowledge comes in – what methods work for you to help your brain stay on task?

Summary of some tools to get yourself going – based on tested psychological principles:

  • Can you link some urgency to the task? or some scarcity? or some strong emotion that is persuasive? For example: if I don’t do this task by November 25, I won’t have time to do it because December will be full of social events and I am really looking forward to seeing friends and family. Or: Its really important that I get this done now, because if I don’t, I won’t have enough money set aside to pay taxes and then I’ll have to deal with the tax agency – which I hate. This task is way easier to do now than dealing with the people at the tax agency!
  • Set up fun reminders, positive reminders, and reminders that tell you that you matter. For example, use the alarms on your smartphone, or reminders in your calendar. Write yourself a reminder on a postcard, put a stamp on it and ask a friend to mail it to you on a certain date. If you are more motivated by the negative consequences of not doing an action, then use that as a reminder (5 days until this is due – if I don’t get this done than I won’t be able to XYZ)
  • Use visualization to imagine what it will be like when you get XYZ done this week? this month? how will you feel inside? what will you be able to say to others? what will they say to you? where will you be able to go? what will you be able to do? Re-visit the visualizations regularly in order to reinforce them.
  • Set up meaningful rewards for even small achievements. My reward for finishing this blog article is to add a pinch of brown sugar and cinnamon on my apple, which I love and it gives me good memories from childhood. When I was in university, I repeated to myself (another reinforcement) that I wasn’t allowed to read any science fiction until I finished writing my term papers or until an exam was done. I had a habit of reading an entire novel in a weekend, so keeping this promise to myself meant that I had something to look forward to, something that made me feel great and relaxed and that was meaningful to me. I also felt pretty good about myself when I followed through, thereby reinforcing my self-esteem.

What does flexibility, adaptability and compassion look like?

The best laid plans don’t always work out, of course. My father was in the military and I remember him saying to me that strategies and plans are great until you encounter the other side so it is important to keep an open mind to alternatives. Many people refer to that approach as being a ‘problem solver’ or ‘being open to positive possibilities’. Doesn’t matter what the label is – what matters is that a plan isn’t written in stone. And it should not be thrown into the fire if things aren’t working out the way you want. Resiliency rests on adapting.

When I encounter challenges to my plans, I keep in mind what I learned in quality management PLAN-DO-CHECK-ACT. The principle is to use a continuous loop of: make a plan, do the task, check or review that things are working, adjust the task or the plan, take action, and then go back to plan and repeat.

Considering those few things that you have decided have to be done in the next 2-3 months, can you guess at some contingency plans? What’s your plan B? What’s the fail point that would required you to move to plan B?

What could you do for yourself so that you have lots of personal resiliency if things don’t go as planned and you have to adapt? Getting enough sleep? healthy food? exercise? Are you keeping your relationships healthy?

Are you typically hard on yourself when your plans don’t work out? What are some activities, memories, or who are some people in your life that allow you to feel loved and boosted and capable?

Needless to say, this article is not meant to be definitive. There are many approaches to how you can step into your future. Right now is a good time to set some short term accomplishments up, so that you can feel good about this year and even better about what next year will hold. If nothing else, you will get some stuff done that you have been procrastinating about.

For all my existing clients, I invite you to book a free VIP monthly session between now and the end of December. During the session, we can look at your website, your marketing and business goals, and consider what we can get done so that you end 2020 stronger.

For new clients, why not book your free consultation and you can tell us about the pain points in your business? Perhaps our suggestions that will give you a helping hand.

If you’d like to share your own thoughts on this topic, or resources that have worked for you and why, please drop us a note! No sales pitches please.

(This article was previously published at Online Web Admin, which is now Mindset Marketing Services)

About Teresa Martin

Teresa has been working with entrepreneurs since 2001 on marketing, communications, websites, business operations and strategy.