A year just seems to fly by. Here you are in the fourth quarter already, with the holidays just around the corner and huge distractions coming from the federal government and Miley Cyrus. Some people get to this point and figure the year is nearly done, so they just wrap it up and get on to the parties--but that strategy can leave much good undone and many people disappointed, including you. This is the time for serious achievers to step up their game, squeeze out every last bit of energy and opportunity, and prepare to head into 2014 riding the wave of success.
1. Go Lean and Mean
If you eliminate the holidays, there are fewer than 80 working days--including weekends--before the end of the year. Most likely you have objectives on your list for 2013 that weren't realistic or necessary. And you may have added unexpected projects over the last nine months. They sit on a Post-it or strategic plan and get ignored daily. It's time to take those off the list and focus on what's important. With only a little time left, every minute is valuable, so don't waste them. Decide on two or three major goals that are important and achievable. Stretching is fine, but make sure the motivation is strong. The rest can be eliminated or go on the schedule for 2014. Then you'll be mentally free and ready to focus hard and attack these important few goals.
2. Take Stock
Much of what you anticipated would happen this year probably turned out to be different than you originally thought. Don't try and execute an aggressive approach based upon information and expectations that are months old. Take a day or two to disconnect from the day-to-day craziness to assess, think and plan the coming months. You might consider a consultant or diagnostic test to help you find your weaknesses. Figure out what's truly important and what obstacles are still in your way. Assess the resources you still have and make sure they are readily available to help you do what you need to do.
3. Add Structure
So often objectives are incomplete because there was no specific path to success. Or there might have been a plan, but there was no way to assess progress along the way. Don't leave your remaining plans subject to unintentional neglect. As growth guru Verne Harnish says, "What gets measured gets done." Put in place a realistic, highly-structured plan with measurable milestones and action steps. Include dates on each item so you can check in on your progress. Don't leave the plan in your documents or on Dropbox. Print it out and post copies at your desk and on your mirror at home so you get a daily reminder of your goal.
4. Make a Deal
There has to be a reason these objectives didn't make the priority list during the year. If you truly want to be accountable for getting them done, you'll have to think about the cause and effect of doing so. Think about the reasons you established these goals originally. Who will be negatively impacted if they don't get done? Find your motivating factors and sweeten the pot by setting a desirable and meaningful reward for yourself. It could be a visit to your favorite expensive restaurant, a new suit or even a vacation with your family. Whatever motivates you to step up and perform, attach it as a reward to drive you to the finish line.
5. Enlist Partners
Perhaps the reason these projects are behind is because you need support. Often people think they can do things on their own, only to find they don't have the expertise, capability or energy to finish by themselves. A little friendly boost can go a long way. It might be in the form of a colleague who helps, a mentor who coaches or even just a friend to cheer you on. Just the act of checking in with someone else weekly will boost your accountability and drive you forward. Engage someone now. Then you'll have someone else to help you celebrate your win on New Year's Eve.
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