Before I owned a company, I really looked forward to the month of December with great anticipation. (I still do, and I’ll explain the difference in a moment.)
As an employee, December meant running at 100 percent rather than the 110 percent I ran at during the first 11 months of the year.
Office parties, taking unused vacation days and a general lack of tension around the office during December made the job seem less stressful than it had been throughout the year.
I knew that in a few short weeks it would be back to putting out a 110 percent effort. But for the month of December, it was nice to de-stress and get caught up on some important, yet non-deadline work.
That all changed when I launched my own company.
Suddenly December turned into the month that required a big push to meet fourth-quarter and year-end goals. It turned into the month when agreements with vendors came up for renewal. It turned into the month when strategic planning for the following year took on a huge sense of urgency.
Forget about longer lunches, vacation time and a relaxed atmosphere around the office. Because I was now ultimately responsible for everything, December had become the most stressful month of the year.
As I mentioned earlier, I now look forward to December again, despite the fact that I’ve been a business owner for 10 years. For one thing, I’ve been able to delegate a number of responsibilities to others in the organization. Including fourth-quarter and year-end reports, as well as negotiations with vendors.
For another – and this is probably the most important adjustment I’ve made – I’ve learned to make time for certain activities well before December. Especially strategic planning for the following year.
These adjustments have helped turn December back into an enjoyable – and certainly less stressful – month for me. It’s a month I can eagerly look forward to again.
Now, if some of you business owners and entrepreneurs are not quite there yet, and you’re experiencing burnout and anxiety as December approaches, I have three tips for you.
First of all, breathe. In fact, take a few deep breaths. Worrying isn’t going to do any good. But relaxing your body and mind will help you concentrate on what you still need to accomplish by December 31. Once you’ve compiled your list, you’ll probably find it’s not as formidable as you thought. With some hard work, it’s all going to come together in time.
Second, think back on what you’ve achieved this year. Is it more than what you anticipated accomplishing? If so, pat yourself on the back and take a few minutes to bask in that triumph. Your hard work and good decisions put you in this position.
Yes, there’s a lot of hard work and important decisions ahead of you. But remembering what you’ve done well will give you confidence that you can do it again.
Third, let your employees assist you. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. If you’re a one-person show with no employees, consider hiring a couple of freelancers to help you wrap up what still needs to be done this calendar year.
If you can task employees or freelancers with some of your busy work for December, that will free you up to tackle what is probably the most important thing for your business: strategic planning for next year.
Then, by this time next year, you’ll be looking forward to December as much as you did when you worked for somebody else.
Allen Baler is a leading entrepreneur and Harvard grad. Allen Baler is a Partner in 4Patriots LLC, bashed in Nashville, TN.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not a substitute for the sound advice of a business professional with expertise in the subject matter discussed. Please seek appropriate counsel on what strategies make sense for your business.
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