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Limping into the New Year… again?

Limping into the New Year… again?

14 Dec by Deborah Wilson

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I feel like I write this sentence at around about this time each year: it’s been a BIG, tough, challenging year for most people. Everyone has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years in some way. For many, 2021 has presented much loss and stress. For others, while the pandemic’s impact may be a little more blunted, it has still been felt. Certain states across Australia have continued going in and out of lockdown and others have been cut off from the rest of the country. 

As we approach the end of yet another year, I’ve been hearing one word consistently: ‘BUSY.’

Confessing we are ‘busy’ is far too often brushed off in my books. I’m guilty of this too. Upon reflection though, I wonder why we’re all so busy. After all, 1 January comes around each year.

From observing many teams and businesses over the years, I continue coming back to this line of thought whenever I hear people talking about the madness that is often their November and December period.

Most of us seem to have this magical deadline of getting things done by Christmas.

Why? Often, this pressure is unnecessary. December comes and goes every year. Why are so many people so willing to work gruelling hours heading into Christmas to have a couple of weeks off in January? After we’ve worked at an unsustainable pace for too many weeks straight, we proceed to collapse in a heap at Christmas lunch while gleefully stuffing ourselves with turkey, while washing it down with a fine wine! Hey, no judgement here, I’m merely passionate about helping people to raise their awareness levels and pay attention to the patterns that aren’t necessarily serving them.

Yes, we are all tired at this time of the year. We need to focus on not getting so tired to begin with. Mental health leave is becoming more commonplace and should not be seen as a sign of weakness. Having the self-awareness to realise that you need a break, is a great asset. Once your team members reach the dreaded level of burnout, it’s a long road back. Communicate with your staff and ensure they know that if they need to take a mental health day or even a couple of days off, you fully support them to do so. No one should feel as though their career is in danger for taking time off. Likewise, pace yourself throughout the year and take your annual leave rather than letting it build up or cashing it in. Sure, the extra money is nice but you can’t put a price on your mental, emotional and physical health.

What helps you to reenergise your batteries? Getting enough sleep and moving your body throughout the day are good starting points. Delegate more — regardless of your role, you don’t need to have a direct involvement with absolutely every task. Show your people that you trust them and focus on the areas that absolutely need your attention. Gain a clear understanding of your priorities and here’s the big one…

Accept that 80% of your effort or 80% done is often good enough. 

Re-read that line as much as you need to. Perfection is an unobtainable goal. Genuinely ask yourself: does it really matter if a task isn’t completed until the New Year? Is anyone going to need this over Christmas?

Instead of loading up your to-do list, consider putting time aside for reflection and to acknowledge that even though it’s been a challenging year, you got through it. Answer these questions:

•  What have we/I learned?

•  We can we/I adjust for 2022?

•  What are our priorities for 2022?

Of course, while I have focused on that looming December deadline, for other industries, work is really just ramping up right now (think retail) and those organisations with a December Year End.

Regardless of your personal situation, December is a great time of the year for reflection and to pave the way for new beginnings.

Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746.