With the holiday season behind us, the roll of the calendar into January tends to increase the tempo in my household. I’m surrounded by piles of stuff for school being readied for my daughter’s return after winter break. At work, budgets and strategic priorities for the New Year are at the forefront. Clients are eager to pick up the pace after holiday time off, and I’m envisioning the next few months as a blur of airports and hotels. Even our social calendar seems to be filling up faster than I anticipated.
As I talk to colleagues, I hear a similar combination of stress and excitement, “How do I fit all of this into my already busy life?” This time of year provides an invaluable opportunity to “take inventory”; review the past year, reflect inward and assess progress, look ahead, plan, and set goals.
As I pause to consider how to create a cohesive, satisfying year out of all of these demands, here are some points that I remind myself of:
- Be clear about your priorities. To the extent you can turn down the “should’s” and “ought-to’s” that come from all directions and really examine what’s important to you, you’ll have more clarity around where you want your energy to go. Be totally honest with yourself. What
do you really want out of your career? What kind of interactions with friends and family are most satisfying? What level of involvement do you really want with health, church, community? Once you’ve decided, act on what’s important to you. Don’t make your priorities empty promises to yourself. Minimize your time in activities that are not in alignment with your choices.
- Don’t assume what’s most important to others. Too often we make assumptions about what others want from us—and spend our time on tasks that don’t accomplish what’s most important to us or those around us. Do you know what your manager’s “must have” expectations are—and what could be let go? Do you know what your kids or your friends really want from you? Have a conversation (yes,
even with your kids!) about where your time and energy is best spent. Many people I know are surprised by how many things they think they “must do” that really don’t make that much difference to others.
- Focus on the benefits and accept the trade-offs. Once you’ve determined your priorities, focus on what you have to gain from those
choices and be willing to accept the consequences. Don’t waste energy regretting what you’re missing. You may not make every soccer
game or every social event with friends when you’re committed to an exciting work project. Remind yourself why you made the decisions you did and what you have to gain by staying committed to acting on your choices.
- Change quickly when it’s required. You can’t have it all at once. But you can have most, if not all, of what really matters to you if you take full advantage of your current life phase—and change quickly when circumstances change. Enjoy spending time with your family, but
don’t hesitate to make it known when you are able to travel more or work more. Don’t let yourself get burnt out or over-extended. Stop and problem-solve before it’s a crisis.
When we can stay focused on what is important to us and have the courage and perseverance to act on those choices, the inevitable periods of stress are easier to manage. I may not look forward to all of the time in airplanes this fall but at least I know it’s in service to work and client relationships I love!
What helps you make workable decisions about how you spend your time? What supports you to have a satisfying, integrated life?
About the Author:
Mike Hyter is President and Managing Partner of Global Novations. Global Novations was formed when industry leaders Novations Group, Inc. and Global Lead joined forces. Prior to his position with Global Novations, Hyter was President and Chief Executive Officer of Novations Group from 2006–2010.