With the end of 2020 in view you have an important choice to make.
You can relax and coast over the finish line and focus again in the new year. The idea of that is really tempting, isn’t it? Especially after the mental, physical and emotional exhaustion of the Pandemic.
You can use this time to accelerate through the finish and carry positive momentum into the new year. You can have an advantage over those who coast and set yourself up for success in the first quarter – rather than using the first quarter to get back up to speed. Getting moving from a stop requires far more energy than maintaining your speed.
My kids were ski racers through high school. They were trained to accelerate through the last turn and power through the finish line – because the difference between a podium and 5th place was measured in hundredths of a second – even at the junior level.
Here’s what you need to do to power through your finish line for this year:
#1 Stay Focused
Maintain your focus on what you are trying to accomplish by the end of the year. Watch out for distractions or interruptions. Cull through your to-do list and prioritize the items that will have the biggest impact this year – especially around maximizing revenue and cash flow. If your list is like mine there are plenty of “nice to have” or “I’d love to get to” items that are not essential. They have waited this long so they can wait until the new year.
#2 Commit to the Future You Really Want
Decide once and for all that you are finally done tolerating what doesn’t work and playing games or settling for table scraps. Decide that this is the year you will achieve your potential. You will build a great practice that you love. You will have more time. You will have less stress.
Create a vision for what you want your life and your practice to be like 12 months from now. Get really specific – in Technicolor and Dolby Surround Sound (yes, I know I’m dating myself with those references). The more clear and specific your goal is the more likely you are to achieve it.
Once you’ve got the vision – break it down into specific, measurable, and achievable goals or milestones. Make it really concrete. But don’t get so hung up in creating the perfect plan that you don’t start. You need to be in action.
Once you have decided: Don’t waffle. Don’t equivocate. The future you will create for yourself cannot be a “should” it has to be a must. Once the decision is made. Once you have committed, you can be in action.
#3 Create Ambitious Deadlines.
If you really want to get something done you need a non-negotiable deadline. If you make it easy on yourself it won’t get done. A deadline gives you a tangible sense of urgency that will drive you to accomplish more than you thought possible. The end of a calendar year is a great non-negotiable deadline.
When you make the commitment to others then it takes away your wiggle room. When you set a tight deadline (like the end of the year) it creates a sense of urgency that you need to get into action. And that’s a good thing.
#4 Get Comfortable Saying “No”.
There is only so much of you to go around. If you are like most professionals I know then you are over-committed to things you are only marginally interested in – typically out of a sense of obligation to others.
Stop it. Stop doing things that do not serve you. Make “no” your default answer. I know that is easy for me to say, and difficult to do. That doesn’t make it less important. When you start saying “no” to others then you have more bandwidth to start saying “yes” to what matters.
Give yourself the freedom to make a “stop doing” list. If it doesn’t interest you. If it doesn’t have a direct and proximate correlation to achieving your goals then add it to the stop doing list. It will be a bigger list than you think. Even if you took just 1 or 2 things off that list you can probably save significant time and mental energy for what really matters.
If you would like help with this step then check out my Guide to Saying No Without Being Negative
#5 Get into Action – Massive Action
Once you have decided what you want to do then get going. There is no time to waste. You don’t need a perfect plan to start. You need to have an idea of where you want to go and the first and maybe second step to getting started. Then do it. Don’t just “dip your toe” in the water. Dive in and take massive action.
You’re probably trying to break years of habits of incrementalism or tolerating a less than an optimum situation. The only way to do that is with massive focused and persistent action. You will probably stumble and fall. Most of us do. That’s not a reason not to be in action.
#6 Commit to Self Care.
Don’t wait until January 1st to (re)start your self-care routines. Sure, you’ll have some cheat days through the holidays, but there are still days to get good habits going. Get up at the same time each day, hydrate, meditate, eat well, sleep more. You are your most important asset. You are worth at least the same care that you give your car, right?
#7 Do your Annual Plan
We’ve got a wicked good annual planning template to help you create what you really want in the new year. Create some blocks of time in each of the next 3 weeks to create your 2021 plan. Part of the process is celebrating your wins from this year. Don’t skip over that.