Audio Version 5 mins
What Are Your Plans For 2020?
Someone told me that’s what they’re working on right now. I know that sounds like a smart get-in-early success gambit, but I think it’s a really bad idea. It’s mid-December, and your brain is far more cooked than you realise.
This is the bad thinking season, when fatigue blends with delusion. You’re burned out by a year of work and its constant intrusion into your every waking hour. You’re pulled this way and that by well-meaning drunken advice at parties.
If you have school-age kids, you have recently sat through some of the very worst entertainment on earth*, peering through a school hall forest of filming iPads, waiting for that brief magic moment when yours gets on stage. Then another ninety minutes before you can politely leave.
(Side note: other people’s children are a useful metaphor for startup brands. You are madly in love with yours because you’ve nurtured it obsessively since day one, and it is so very clever and special. Customers just think they all look the same to me.)
Don’t Trust December Brain
You have this giant to-do list of business and personal stuff as you struggle to do the right thing by friends, family, clients and workmates. Your mind is a cage fight of priorities, each trying to rip the others’ head off. You have little in the way of mental resources left to referee.
This is the time when your people come to you with hare-brained strategies, beef with other staff over issues that don’t matter, and demands that will be forgotten by January. And they want instant action.
Just like the rising panic in your clients, because whatever it is you do for them, they all NEED IT BY CHRISTMAS. It’s the universal artificial deadline. There’s no logic to it, it could be about a project that will run till June. It’s just mass instinct behavior, no different to when when a billion moths descend on one place on a specific week. They can’t tell you why but they want it real bad.
Here’s What To Do
Not very much.
Don’t make any major decisions.
Nature likes balance, and it has ways of dealing with this stress crescendo. That’s why fermentation exists. Take your hands off the steering wheel and just cruise like everyone else is. Don’t waste precious brainpower trying to make a difference when it’s not going to.
Tell people they’ll get that report after Christmas. Go home right on time. Have the extra party pies. Write a much shorter blog post than usual. Iron discipline is great, and you should apply it from mid-January through November.
If you’re all discipline all the time, you become a one-dimensional bore, and this imbalance will cause you to look back on your life and go: I should have had some fun back then.
You will lose touch with how normal people think and behave, and that’s an essential business skill. You’ll have no conversation skills when the rest of the population is in loose mode. Nobody wants to hear about your morning affirmation rituals or plans for a January juice cleanse.
Take A Holiday Like Gary Vaynerchuk
Another reason I kept this last post for 2019 shorter is to give you time to read the final one from last year, if you didn’t catch it back then.
And not just because I’m – oh my God – complimentary about Gary Vaynerchuk.
It’s because I, like Santa, can judge if you’re good or bad at business by your holidaying habits. Stop being a workaholic martyr. Holidays are not only valuable, they prove you’ve got your act together enough to let other people run your business. If you can’t, your business will never grow beyond corner-store size.
There’s a handy flow chart to test whether you’re going to make it.
It’s a really important thing to think about: Why Vacations Are Essential For Your Business To Succeed.
And that’s all from me for 2019. I’m going to go surfing and learn to play the piano. New material will return mid January. Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff this year, it’s appreciated.
*Unless, as happened to some friends on the weekend, your school Xmas pageant has a surprise guest spot from Kamahl. Who, by all accounts, slayed like the entertainment king he is.
I do stories like this every Tuesday, drop your email address here to get them sent to you.
Enjoy your break Ian … I know I will! 🙂
Thanks for the year of entertaining and thought provoking stories. Enjoy the mental break.