I can guarantee that you will say this either to yourself or to someone else early next year – “I can’t believe it’s March already”.
You will have returned from your summer break feeling refreshed and motivated. You’ll have read a couple of business books and a biography of some super-entrepreneur over the break and you will be back in the office ready to take on the world.
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And for a few days you will feel exactly like that go-getter in that book.
Then reality will set in and time will start whizzing by far quicker than your ability to make things happen. Next thing you know – “I can’t believe it’s March already”.
That’s not a criticism of you. It’s life, and it’s why I’m not a massive fan of motivational speakers and books. The impact they have tends to rapidly run out of puff and you end up feeling like even more of a procrastinator than you did before you read the book or attended the talk.
So what’s the answer?
No matter how flat out you are in the lead-up to Christmas, you need to give next year some thought before switching off the lights on 2011. It is critical to put in place some activities for early in the New Year that will get your 2012 off to a fast start and really give you a sense of momentum.
Last year when I came back after Christmas I knew we had a PR campaign locked away for late February/early March and it kept everyone (myself included) motivated and focused as January become February and February became March. This year we have already mapped out a clear sales strategy, as well as a PR initiative to kick off 2012.
That’s how we can be confident that the year won’t start getting away from us before it has really even started.
What should you do? Obviously, that’s entirely up to you. It might be arranging to deliver a speech at an important industry event in February. It might be identifying the 10 prospects you want to call in late January. It might be deciding to run some magazine advertising in an industry rag through February / March.
The detail is entirely up to you. However, make sure that what you plan to do is tangible. I think it’s a missed opportunity to identify planning as the sole activity that you want to have achieved by early in the New Year. I’m not saying that January is not a great time to plan. It is: No emails. No phone calls. The sunshine puts you in a good mood.
The point is that planning documents and whiteboards full of flow charts and lists no one else can read do not of themselves drive your business forward or give you a real sense of momentum. So, by all means plan on coming back from holidays with the goal of using the time for planning and decision-making. But also have actions in place that will put some real, tangible runs on the board.
I will, however, offer you this caveat.
Do take some time off. It is really important to hit the ground running in 2012 with clear initiatives. It is also really important not to have run out of energy by the end of March because you didn’t take a break. Make sure you plug into a power source over Christmas or instead of saying, “I can’t believe it’s March already,” you will be saying, “I can’t believe it’s only March.”