I am bang up for a good milestone. If there is a significant date, season or event headed my way it often fires up action and motivation to get things done. But at this time of year this Milestone Mania can be the cause of huge stress and overwhelm.
Why? Because I want to have EVERYTHING finished by the end of the year. I want the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to bring a pristine, blindingly white, fresh canvas on which I can create the masterpiece that will be 2017.
I want all the things to be wiped from my to-do list. Plus I want ALL of the planning to be done, strategies created and calendars scheduled for next year.
And all of this with school holidays only days away and the Christmas craziness sets in.
Obsessed? You betcha. Stressed? More than a little.
And I’m definitely not the only one. November is one of the busiest months of the year for many service-oriented businesses, when clients (who obviously suffer from the same milestone mania) finally wake up after months of dilly-dallying and want their projects finished before year’s end. November is the time when it all still seems possible, before the mid-December reality-fest kicks in and people start thinking … “well, it’s not going to happen, so we might as well just have a Christmas beer and wait until next year.”
So what are some tactics to avoid this Milestone Mania?
(1) SERVE YOURSELF A HUGE, ICY-COLD REALITY COCKTAIL.
If there is six months worth of work on your plate, it’s not going to be finished in the five weeks before the fat man in the red suit starts his annual home invasions. Take a good look at the work you want to have done, and estimate the hours each one will take. This will serve you a dose of cold, hard reality. (If you’re in the northern hemisphere, and your Christmas is of the white variety, feel free to replace your reality cocktail with a reality gluwhein, eggnog or other spicy warm drink).
(2) IDENTIFY YOUR CRITICAL SIX
In his book Harmonic Wealth, James Arthur Ray talks about the concept of the Critical Six. (I have written a blog post about it here). It’s about identifying the six most important things you need to get done, and focusing on them – and only them. While I recommend using this technique for your daily planning, it can also be applied with a longer-term view.
Choose the six most important things on your list. The six that will drive you closer to your goals, and will let you take a well-earned break for the holiday season. Map out how you will achieve those six things over the next six weeks. Break them down into bite-sized chunks. Then start saying “no” to everything else.
(3) ACTUALLY SAY NO!!
It’s more than reasonable to start telling clients that your schedule is solid for the remainder of the year, and start putting the processes in place to pick up their project next year. And all of those “can I pick your brain” phone calls and “let’s have a coffee and chat” meetings might also need to be given the huge heave-ho. Unless something directly contributes to your Critical Six, is of HUGE strategic importance to your 2017 plans, or is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that simply can’t be ignored, it can be delayed.
(4) GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!
OK, so maybe you won’t get everything done – but that’s ok. Focus on what you can get done. Don’t waste energy on the ‘what ifs” and set your focus on the “can dos”.
(5) CREATE BETTER HABITS NEXT YEAR.
Remember that pristine canvas I talked about earlier. A New Year is a great opportunity to get new habits in place. Create a clear strategy for your business. Schedule key selling periods and priority projects. Have detailed 90 day plans to help you achieve. That way when November creeps around next year, there won’t be the same panic and overwhelm.
We’d love to hear form you – and hold you accountable – so let us know your Critical Six in the comments below. When you say them out loud (or at least type them out loud) you’re much more likely to stick to them.