Whatever holiday you celebrate and however you enjoy it, inevitably the rhythm of business changes during the last few weeks of the year. You can use this time to your advantage to bring a strong close to 2009 and an even more powerful start to 2010 whether you are a business owner or employee. You don’t even have to work hard to make it happen.
The secret is to gear your activities to answer one of two questions:
1) What do I need to do to bring the current year to powerful completion?
2) What can I do to set myself up for success in the year ahead?
Here are my top 5 tips of how you can do that based on my own experience and that of the experts I cite below.
1) Create a Clean Slate
Wrap up all those little hanging chads from 2009. That includes bookkeeping, invoicing, unfinished client communications, and filing. Nothing sends you into 2010 with cinder blocks tied to your feet more than a whole bunch of unfinished business from 2009. If you have outstanding items far too big to bring to full completion then simply organize, prioritize, and communicate with a firm date of when it will be handled in January. Finances have a natural end of year deadline for business planning and tax purposes. Some good tips on how to organize finances as a freelancer can be found here.
2) Organize, File, and Purge
While you’re grooving from number one, adopt the do it or dump it mentality with all your files and records including financial ones. Get organized for tax season (it’ll be here before you know it!). Purge old client files. Empty your entire inbox. Shred sensitive paper files you no longer need. Clean the closet and filing cabinets. Anything you can do to clear your space and simplify will reap rewards and replenish you with energy and space (literally and emotionally). Here are some filing system tips to consider.
3) Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Now is the time to take stock of what you accomplished in 2009. Even though it was a tough year for many, you have things to celebrate. Take stock of 2009:
- What did you accomplish?
- What did you earn? what did you save? what debt do you have?
- What new skills did you learn?
- In what ways did you grow and evolve as a person?
You can’t get where you want to go without knowing where you are. This step is about getting clear on where “here” is. And here’s a hint – you don’t have to have a “save the world” accomplishment to create and savor your list. Zandria sets a great example of celebrating in “Five Things I’m Proud Of (From 2009)”. You need to celebrate not only the tangible professional and financial milestones but also the personal ones.
4) Plan for 2010
“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” It’s that simple. What are your goals for 2010? I’m not a huge goal setting person in terms of hard-core goals all mapped on paper. Yet I am a huge proponent of setting your intentions for the year and putting that in writing. Your intentions of what you want to see happen in your life and business (from vacation ideas to income goals) as well as how you want to feel and BE as you go about your year. Now is the time to do it. If you wait until January, you’ll likely get swept into the wave of “same-old, same-old” and find yourself at the whims of everyone and everything else.
Create your learning plan. If the past few years have taught us anything it is that learning and growing is the key to long-term success as a business owner or employee. The landscape keeps changing and you need to keep your skills fresh and expanding. Here’s an excellent article on creating your learning plan for 2010. One way to keep learning is to devour books regularly. Check out Melinda Emerson’s small business reading list Part I and Part II.
5) Rest & Relax
By all means you work your tail off all year — chill out for a bit. Create some breathing space. Reconnect with family and friends. Take a nap. Indulge with some extra time spent on your hobbies. The point of the holidays is to make them meaningful
so do it. Don’t let a to-do list or itch to get a jump on 2010 derail you from the here and now. Handle items one through four the best you can and then let go.
What are your best tips for using the holiday time to your advantage for your business or career?