November Strategy – Breathe & Connect

November, the last month of the year, is upon us.  Yes, I know that November’s not really the last month of the year….but my goodness, sometimes it feels like it!!  It’s certainly the last month of full production and any kind of linear structure recognisable as a full month and, regardless of your industry, December is really about cleaning up the year and putting it to bed.

As the year starts to taper, the ratio of pressure to available energy starts to tip in most of us, and consequently our level of tolerance for change.  Many of us are starting to conserve our remaining energy and point it strategically at those things we deem important whilst side-lining those further down the list for later.  Whilst this is a solid strategy for getting the most out of the remainder of the year and making sure we’ve aimed effectively at those things that will lay the foundation for next year to seat itself on, there are often casualties.

One of our most natural casualties of lowering energy and increasing pressure is connection.  Many will withdraw slightly to focus and moderate what remains on their plate.  If you belong to the introverted tendency of the world, the chance of you disconnecting at this time of year is increased.  We’re likely to have fewer conversations that require us to extend ourselves, collaborate less unless it serves what’s on our remaining To-Do list, and offer our energy to other people’s goals less willingly.  As we become more protective of our time and energy, we tend to forget that connection with each other holds incredible value that helps to power us forward and keep us aware – even the introverts among us.

Author and speaker, Sean Stephenson said “Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.”

What if we were to take the remainder of the year as a Connection Test?  A test of our connection to ourselves, to our outlook and to each other?  Rather than powering through it like a race to the end, what if we drew back our perspective slightly to take in what our focus on our remaining objectives is telling us? 

The remaining period of the year tests whether we’ve been connected to our goals – which ones have truly become a priority, which we’ve side-lined, and which have fallen by the wayside.  It brings home what’s really mattered to us and what we’ve put our energy into achieving.  The new year coming tests our connection to what our ongoing goals may be and what our level of commitment is to those goals.  The impending holiday period often brings with it a subconscious recognition of the state of connection within the various relationships that surround us that’s worth examining – for better or worse.

If we acknowledge the remainder of the year for the magnifier that it is, we can use it to evaluate our connections on various different levels and challenge ourselves to keep those connections open.  Danny Silk, who is a king of connection, suggests asking these three questions with regard to people (I think they apply to all human relations, whether business or personal):

  • Is there a healthy exchange of truth in this relationship?
  • What is the level of safety in this relationship?
  • Am I listening to understand and staying willing to adjust?

These three questions and their considered answers provide us with a framework to assess and improve our connections with others, whether they happen to be in our office or around our dinner table. 

Whenever we talk about nurturing the human connection, that foundation upon which we theoretically build all else, there tends to be a feeling that you’d have to slow whatever you were trying to achieve down to facilitate that foundation.  Whilst that’s often correct, the slowing and consideration that allows the routine inspection, repair and bolstering of those foundations are worth their weight in gold.  Any loss of speed during that maintenance is gained back exponentially in the long run as those relationships and connections (to our goals and to each other) allow clarity and supported movement forward.

So, what about our goals?  The goals for the year that’s past as well as our goals for the year that’s coming.  Taking the time to pause and assess our connection to these allows us to put down the load we’ve accumulated throughout the year, unpack it, examine it and put it to use or rest.  We can evaluate the lessons and discard the rest.  We can take an opportunity to breathe.

In our rush to meet the closing of the year, we often forget to do just that – breathe.  Finding some space to evaluate what this year-end pressure is telling us about our priorities can be eye-opening.  The rush towards the end of the year can also see us proverbially holding our breath.  We cannot meet the new year coming still holding our breath from this one.  Before we get there, breathe out.  Pause.  Take a few deep ones.  Feel whatever they bring with them.  Put the baggage down.  Examine your answers to the above thoughts about relationships and goals.

And then resolve to use the remainder of this year to connect.

Connect with yourself.
Connect with your needs.
Connect with your goals
Connect with your people.
Connect with your gifts.
Connect with your purpose.
Connect with what you can give.
Connect with what you want this coming year to look like.

Put connection first.  And then, when the new year comes, go out and do THAT.  Allow humanity in and share it around.  Allow yourself to see what affects you and what affects others.  Choose to communicate for connection – not just to get the job done.

by Christen Killick

October 31st, 2022

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