Setting achievable goals for you, your staff, and your family so that you can enjoy your holidays – with less stress.
As we round out the end of the year, there is the never ending noise of the to-do list, the obligations, and the must-dos. There always seems to be more than I can possibly accomplish – whether that be personally or professionally. In some of my early corporate days, I recall that end of year dance where we had to make sure proposals and purchasing orders were properly timed to ensure the right amounts hit our current year budget and others fell into the new year. I would carefully be managing the financials while trying to wrap up our end of year tactics, fine tune our next year forecasts with senior management, and preparing for our larger government bids in the new year – all while ramping up our private marketing strategy. In the mean time, there were family gatherings, outings with friends, and holiday shopping to do. I would push and push – only to arrive in mid-January feeling like I was run over by a truck.
So, the big question is how did I eliminate that type of stress as I advanced in my career? The truth is I didn’t – entirely. However, I do now know how to reduce it for not only myself but my employees, coworkers, and family. Here are some tips I use.
1) Connect to your vision to remember what’s important. When asked what was most important on my list of things, my first response was always, “well, all of it.” As a recovering perfectionist and overachiever, it took a long time to do things differently. However, if you really peel back the layers and think about what you really want, it becomes simpler. Connect to your long-term vision. Visualise your company (or yourself) 10, 20, or 30 years into the future. What are you celebrating and most proud of? Who are the people you want with you in this celebration?
I remember the year I had my first daughter. I was working as a new product launch leader and my manager at the time said what do you want to look back and remember? In that moment, I knew that spending time with my family was more important than having the perfect forecast or getting through the 100 things on my to do list. Even just that little question, made me really acknowledge what was absolutely necessary and to what level it needed to be addressed.
2) Say no. Once you have connected into your vision, what can you say no to? Often times, it can feel really hard to say no. As an entrepreneur, this was one of the hardest things for me to adjust to. There’s always that little bit of fear in the back of my mind wondering what if I don’t land the next gig? The truth is, saying no has not held me back, it’s actually helped me grow. First, and most importantly, by saying no to the things that are not a great fit to my vision and goals it frees up my time when things come up that are more in line with my vision so I’m better set up for growth in the areas I WANT to grow vs. just winning the next gig. It gives me choice. And, second, in all honesty, people want to work with and be around someone who’s confident in their future vs. coming at things from a place of fear so saying no can actually attract more business.
3) Let go of perfection. This one was tough for me and still remains an area of growth. It’s so easy to keep re-doing things until they are “perfect.” (i.e. Let me just look at this project one more time.) What’s enough? I’ve found the best way to let go is transparency – even with my clients. For example, I worked with a recent corporate coaching client to help them design their deliverable around their holiday break. The client agreed to share a high level outline of the project so that his executive team could feel comfortable with where the project was moving without requiring all of the details to be completed prior to the holiday – and it allowed his team to gain visibility to some of the supporting tasks that would be required in the new year. Often times, we have to speak up for what we need. Don’t be afraid to design with your clients, managers, and staff. As a leader (or parent) in particular, being open about what CAN be accomplished while holding your lines for things like time off sets an example for your staff (and children) so that they know they too can prioritise themselves. The key to this working is not to leave people with last minute surprises. We all know things can change so if something comes up that might move the line on a previously agreed deliverable or timeline, try to give a heads up so all of the people involved have a chance to modify expectations or even better help out and step up where needed.
4) Set bigger goals. This might sound counter-intuitive but instead of making a goal for the “perfect” dinner or hitting $1M in sales for the year, look longer term and bigger. For example, what if your goal for holidays with your family was experiencing more laughter? Then, a burnt turkey or an over salted soup become the perfect fodder to help you reach your goal. Trust that your vision is bigger than one mistake or one missed opportunity. As a business, what if you celebrate your near $1M in sales for this year, and set your long-term vision to have $10M in the next 5 years? Imagine how much more motivated your staff will feel to hit your big numbers in the next few years when you are toasting them at $990K for their efforts vs. beating them (and yourself up) for “missing” $10K this year. Sometimes when we get caught up in a smaller detail, we lose sight of all of the other things around us. Choosing the perspective to look at the near $1M in sales as an accompishment can make a huge difference in how you approach your next year.
5) Celebrate the wins. As in the example above, celebrate what you DID do. All too often we focus on the missed opportunity over the accomplishment. Celebrate your wins – both big and small. And, sometimes, that means celebrating a “no” over a “yes.” Take a minute to recognise what you are most proud of? Reflect back to where you are today vs. 10 years ago. Are you better prioritising time with family? Did you double your sales to $990K? Did you connect into a network that will better set you up to do more of your “dream” work? What are you grateful for and how can you celebrate it?
Overall, remember that the end of year will move fast.
While a lot of things are outside of your control, mindset is one thing you can control. Who do you need to be as you go into this end of year? I often keep a little toy figurine of “Poppy the Troll” from the Trolls movie on my desk to remind me to connect into my playful side when I feel the stress coming on. Sometimes, having a song, a quote, a picture of an actor who’s energy would be helpful for you is a great way to remind yourself to stay grounded in what you want.
And, if you are still having a hard time, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out. At Livthentic, we work with leaders and entrepreneurs to help them connect to their vision and operationalise it, and this often includes digging more deeply and getting good at saying no when things do not align with your vision.