Today at 2:18pm PST, Autumnal Equinox pushed us into the last stretch of the year.
Each year this happens, in addition to jumping for joy that 100+ degree temperatures will end here soon in Arizona, I always realize that there are three precious months to get cleared out and revved up for the new year.
Here are a few suggestions for using the remainder of the year in a way that is both free of stress, enjoyable and will start 2010 off in a big way:
1) Identify the key hot spots in your business, and spend three months clearing out everything that gets in the way of growing them. Look at all the things you are doing right now. Which products or services are going to deliver killer value to your clients? What do you do better than any of your competitors? Which are the most profitable, and enjoyable activities in your business? As hard as it may be to give up certain things you enjoy, prune back unnecessary activities and watch your business soar.
2) Simplify, and downsize. Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, has wonderful, concrete suggestions for making your life cleaner, clearer and more organized in his book, as well as his blog Zen Habits. His own story is powerful (I profiled him in my book), moving from overweight, stressed, smoking employee father of six to running, writing, free agent and blogging entrepreneur (and still a happy father of six). Use the time before the holidays to clean out closets, remove cobwebs, clear out files, streamline systems and make room for what’s new.
3) Meditate on what you want from the holidays. Then make some changes. Last year, my family all decided that we wanted to scale back on gift giving, since it was increasingly difficult to find meaningful presents, and because it added unnecessary stress and expense to the holidays. We used Elfster.com to draw names for gift giving, which simplified things a lot. My friend life coach Susan Hyatt did a fun and very useful program last year called “This Ain’t Yo Mama’s Christmas” which helped people focus on what they really wanted out of Christmas, to reduce the stress hurricane that makes many families long for the peace of the new year. If you celebrate another holiday, look for ways to make it more economical, more fun and more enriching.
4) Plan for time off to do nothing at all. Family is so important. And it is great to spend time together and eat good food. But does it have to be at the end of the year when travel prices are high, flu germs are flying through the air and airports are packed? We have decided to sit at home this year during the holidays, then to visit my parents in California when things aren’t so rushed. Our kids won’t be stressed from visiting 12 different houses as we cram time to see the whole family, we will save money, and we can use the time to just hang out together, go hiking and get ready for the new year.
Some of these adjustments may not please everyone in your life.
- Some clients may not like the fact that you stop a program or raise your prices
- Some family members may feel that you are being totally selfish to stay home for the holidays, regardless of how much stress a trip would cause.
- While most of Leo’s own community were supportive of his experiment, a few were perturbed when he floated the idea of stopping email to regain control of his life. Harsh words from a commenter named “Don’t be a snob Leo” (anonymous of course!):
I can’t get over the last line where Leo is accused of saying/thinking:
“I can’t please everyone, I have my own life to think of, that’s how I do things, it’s just something I decided for myself because it makes me happy”.
Doesn’t that sound pretty in line with zen habits? What exactly does that have to do with being a snob?
If you get any cranky comments like Leo did, ask yourself these questions:
- Will making these adjustments reduce my stress, improve my health and/or strengthen my relationships?
- Will making these adjustments allow me to serve more people, or serve a smaller number more deeply?
- Will making these adjustments improve the health of my cash flow and business, allowing me to make more meaning in the world and in the lives of my clients?
- Will this be more fun, regardless of what anyone thinks?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, go for it!
If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything, said Malcolm X (after Alexander Hamilton said it 220 years before).
Pun intended! 🙂