Welcome to the part of the year where time speeds up and the wheels fall off!
Every year around this time, the end of the year starts to race towards us as the coming year arrives on the horizon. Life can become pressurized and overwhelming. The 4th quarter has always been an interesting time to navigate, and that was back when things were “normal”. Things haven’t been normal for a while which means we’re navigating the end of this year with lower tolerance levels than we’ve done before.
Lately, we’ve discussed a fair amount on self-management. That’s because before you can contribute to anything outside of yourself in a meaningful way, you must first manage your own mindset and discipline your own actions. If you feel like you’re starting to spin, then self-management is what you need to focus on even when it feels like you can’t take your eye off what’s happening around you for a second.
Self-managing under pressure is one of the hardest things any human being ever has to do, so don’t underestimate the challenge you’re feeling. Take a deep breath, and reconsider your outlook. This particular part of the year can provide us with a great degree of wisdom and insight if we’re open to it.
When we’re under pressure, our true colours come out. We default to our most ingrained and original settings during times of stress. The failure of people and systems becomes apparent and observing the outcomes during this quarter of the year can turn up some absolute gold in terms of how to make your business, your team and yourself stronger and more resilient. Now is NOT the time to try and fix everything. Now is the time to be selective about what you focus on and spend the rest of your energy observing what is and isn’t working so that you can make better choices as you move into the year ahead.
Once again, the most valuable self-management tool you have at your disposal is your pause. By that, I mean that each of us has the right and ability to pause, and to use that pause to consider how we choose to move forward. Within that pause, you can employ any of a million other techniques to get to the answers you need to move forward confidently. This applies not only to big decisions, but also to small responses to everyday conversations – employing our pause is powerful, and the length of your pause is up to you.
Here are a few things to consider, factor in, or focus on to make the remainder of your year powerful:
- The 4th quarter of the year has 3 months in it. Except only two of them are genuinely usable.
- It’s time to be discerning about how you’ll use December. Even with 31 days, it’s the fastest month of the year, whizzing by in a blur of traditions, expectations and false rest that doesn’t leave you feeling restored enough to take on another year. Unless you recognise that ahead of time and make choices that ensure you claim December to breathe, download, offload and restore. Even in business, December should be about those same things, because we need to hit January with enough energy and presence of mind to own the coming year. And no, next year will not be smoother. Next year will bring more changes – it always does. So be ready.
- Now that we’ve established the 4th quarter only really has 2 months in it, let’s admit it’s now the end of October. Which means there is one effective month left of 2021 in terms of strategic planning.
- If you haven’t already done so, NOW is the time to look at the list of goals you had for this year and focus on what must absolutely be finished off or put in place ahead of the new year. Times like these are exactly WHY you have a goals list. So that you can remember what you were trying to focus on and refine that focus.
- Once you’ve refined your focus for the remaining month of this year, you should be left with the things on the list that should-have-happened-but-haven’t. These may be the first identifiable pointers towards what’s not working.
- Now, look around you at what else isn’t working. These will be indicated by your current pain points (the things that are pushing your buttons) and could be anything from communication channels to systems. Make a note, because these are the things that form the basis of “what we need to do better” next year.
- Next, take a moment to make a corresponding list of things that worked well this year. Where did you win? Who did you win with? Celebrate that a little in your mind and remember to include those choices again next year.
- Finally, take your focus back to the list of what absolutely must be finished off this year, or put in place now to ensure you can build successfully on it at the beginning of the new year.
- What actions do you need to take to make these imperatives happen? Who do you need to ensure is on the same page as you? Clear everything else “off your desk” apart from this short-list of focus goals. You have one month. Make it count, and don’t get side-tracked.
Instead of being swept away by this part of the year and its increasing frenzy, use your pause, and your powers of observation.
Where have the cracks shown in your team, in your strategy, in your finances, in yourself? How have you reacted to the stress and is there a better way to manage that going forward? What does your support system look like and how can you empower it? In which areas are you overloaded without anyone reliable to delegate to? Who’s keeping their head above water better than the rest and why? Who’s proving an effective team member and going above and beyond to bridge the gaps where others have become quiet and withdrawn?
Who’s quiet and withdrawn and are they drowning? Who’s completely lost the plan and gone off the deep end – in which case, are they more suited to a different position, or do they need more training or information? Perhaps they just need to pause and consider the above points. What are the cracks in your systems? What information didn’t you have close at hand or perhaps fully understand in the moment you needed it? What are the dangers moving forward and how can you plan to mitigate them before they cripple you? Where have your soft spots been shown up?
Now is the time to make the remainder of this year count. Don’t be fooled by the increase in speed and the wobbling of wheels. Steady yourself.
If you’d like to understand more about employing your pause, Pause, and Read This.
by Christen Killick
October 25th, 2021