7 Must-Do Tasks to Jump Start 2015

1. Line Up Engagements

December tends to be a time of year for review and ending projects. In fact, I long ago lost count of the number of false deadlines that were imposed because it was the month of December. “We’d like this by the end of the year” is all too common of a constraint that is not at all matched with reality. When a bottom-up schedule estimate yields a finish date of January 3, we should seriously consider making that our deadline, instead of December 31. C’mon managers…you know you’ve experienced this!

But seriously, December can also be a great time to review your appointment book and line up engagements for the New Year. These may be meetings, or pitches, lunches, breakfasts, cocktails, or golf games….but you’ve got to get out there! Making the calls now will put you in the driver’s seat as far as getting appointments. Those calendars are already filling for January, February, March and April! But right now you have an opportunity to get in the early call. Many of those calendars are looking sparse right now as your clients and potential clients think about closing out their years. So making calls now for speaking engagements and meetings gives you the advantage of a clean appointment book which removes the frequently heard obstacle of “sorry, she’s all booked up next month.”

2. Assess Staff and Provide Feedback

I know, you’re an enlightened manager and you’ve been providing feedback all year. Good job! The days of the annual performance appraisal being the sole source of feedback are long gone for most of us. Remember to take care of your best people. Rewards and end-of-year bonuses are great, but another way to nurture your best performers is by dealing with performance issues. Start the New Year with your ‘A’ team! If you’ve been procrastinating on a performance issue, the time has come to face it. As difficult as it may be to let someone go at this time of the year, it’s critically important that we remember that performance issues rarely solve themselves. Instead they grow and cause performance decay from the inside out. You risk losing the positive motivation and engagement of your best by not managing your worst. Remember, this is a time of review and renewal for the team. It’s time to set new levels of acceptance and demonstrate leadership!

3. Review Your Business Plan

Be a harsh critic of yourself. Did you meet your own expectations? If not, why not? If yes, how did you do it? Put your mistakes to work for you and turn your positive steps and lucky guesses into repeatable processes. Adjust your plan according to the reality of your enterprise environmental factors and make sure you understand what decisions will need to be made as the New Year unfolds.

4. Reconsider Your New Year’s Resolutions

Do you remember your New Year’s resolutions? Did you write them down? Can you dig out that scrap of paper? If you do remember them, how are you doing? If you’ve accomplished them, any of them, or even part of some of them…congratulations! That’s awesome!

If you didn’t accomplish them all, don’t feel badly….it’s been a busy year! When you made those resolutions you had no idea of the obstacles and opportunities that were going to become more important than those goals during this year.

And now you have 3 weeks left to accomplish one. The one. The most important one. Which of those resolutions is still important? More important than anything else? Focus on that one and make sure it still meets the conditions of a good goal…is it still attainable? For example, losing 20 pounds during the year may have been a reasonable goal. However, losing 20 pounds in 3 weeks is probably not attainable, and is certainly not a healthy goal. Not to mention no fun at all during the holiday season. So what is reasonable? Only you can decide that.

5. Set Yourself Up for Success

Once you’ve set your goal, how can you set yourself up for success? Conventional goal-setting wisdom says that you should share your goal. Your chances of success increase as your commitment becomes more firm. Writing it down improves your likelihood of success, and telling others about it improves your chances even more. However, according to Derek Silvers in a 2010 Ted Conference, new studies reveal that talking about the goal actually reduces the likelihood you will accomplish it. Our minds substitute the telling for the doing!

In other words, through the telling of it, you’ve already gained the satisfaction of attaining the goal. One way to defeat this is to keep the goal to yourself. If you really want the support of your friends, or if it’s necessary to share the goal because it affects other people, you may try to say it in a way that does not give you satisfaction. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds, instead of saying “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year”, consider saying “I’ve really got to lose some weight, so the next time I reach for a second piece of pie, feel free to slap my hand.”

Whether you share your goals or not, the most important thing to remember is to keep trying! If you “fall off the wagon” of one goal or another, it doesn’t mean it’s time to give up and pick a different goal. It means it’s time to reexamine your priorities and set yourself up for success!

6. Pay It Forward

Pay it forward has become a popular buzz-phrase and there’s a very logical reason for that. Generosity makes you happier. Researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, working on a new collaborative project with the National Institute on Mental Health and the National Institute on Aging have discovered that there is a physiological basis for the warm glow that seems often to accompany altruistic giving.

7. Manage Your Happiness

Most goals are made with the thought that when you reach them you’ll be a bit happier. The reality is that the happier you are, the more likely you are to reach your goals! One way to improve your happiness factor at this time of the year is to understand and minimize the stress associated with the holidays. Think about what really causes you distress especially in December and decide how you will cope with that this year. Will you avoid the crowds or revel in them? Will you get thoughtful gifts that are within your budget or will you decide that a bit of debt is ok? Will you be a guilt-ridden closet chocoholic or will you delight in the culinary delights that are certain to tempt you. We hope you’ll choose the least stressful path for yourself and wish you a happy, healthy, peaceful and safe…New Year!