The school year creates its own rhythm for our children--each month lines up from August to May in a clear pattern. Their effort begins in the fall, builds throughout the winter, then concludes at the end of the spring. They get summer off to rest, rejuvenate and prepare for the next round.
But when do working moms get our chance to mark a clear finish to one year and the start of the next? I suggest now, in December! The end of the calendar year is a powerful time for us to finish strong and start fresh in our work life. While we're setting resolutions for the new year, why not do the same for our work year? Finish this year STRONG and start the next with clarity and energy!
And now you're rolling your eyes at me (I can hear it!). December is the crazy month of school programs, teacher gifts, holiday parties at work, family celebrations, sending cards, late night baking, online shopping, decorating the house, kids out of school, travel, entertaining, and that blasted Elf On the Shelf--how are we supposed to get all that done AND focus on work?
Step 1: Look Back to Evaluate the Year You've Had
It's far too easy to let the year pass in a blur as we dash from one meeting to the next or finish one project only to leap into the next one. So just like we reflect on the year that has passed in our family as we decorate the Christmas tree or select a picture for the holiday card, let's reflect on the year that has passed at work.
Set aside an hour at work to flip back through your Outlook calendar or your day planner. I like to print mine out then use different colored highlighters to mark large projects or recurring events. Take some notes on 2013. What were the moments this year that made you feel like you were heading in the right direction? Was there a project team that you ran like a boss? A deliverable, big or small, that felt like a slam dunk? A week when you absolutely nailed it? A disaster that you survived? A disaster that you turned around? Look for a pattern, a rhythm. Did you do your best work before a massive deadline because you like to work in a crunch? Are you most productive after a vacation when you are fresh and full of energy? Do you draw energy from times of change or do you prefer a predictable workflow? Did you experience a big change? How did it affect you? The goal for this step is to become more observant of our own experience, to see the big picture instead of each little flash as it whizzed by.