Anyone have a love–hate relationship with the entire month of December? It’s taken me years to admit it, but I’m afraid that I fall in this category. Maybe it’s exaggerated by all the overeating of carbs at Thanksgiving and that four-day weekend that always makes it hard to get back into work mode on Monday morning. But, seriously, who wants to work when there’s a tree to decorate and packages to wrap? And holiday get-togethers and parties coming at you right and left. Plus, more shopping! Which, of course, means more wrapping!
Don’t get me wrong – I love the Christmas season! The saddest time of year for me is when the trees hit the curbs and the neighborhoods no longer have colored lights draped over anything that will stand still and reindeers and Santa’s on every other lawn. It’s the same feeling I have driving out of Disney World and back to reality.
So, December is wonderful! Mostly. There’s also something else going on due to the fact that the holidays fall during the last month of the year. If you own a business or work for one, which includes most of us, this is when you’re closing out one year and getting ready to start a brand new one. It’s tempting to think of January as the time for setting goals and kicking off 2016, but that’s a costly mistake. Anyone who waits until then will start off behind and most likely never catch up. A study by Harvard Business found that 61% of business owners fail because of poor strategy and execution of that strategy. It seems fairly safe to assume that not having a strategy in place before it’s needed contributed to at least some of those failings.
Hence the “hate” portion of my relationship with December. Instead of being happily focused on perfecting the perfect eggnog recipe, there is an annoying little voice in my head chanting about goal setting. Fortunately, as I’ve gotten older, I have learned that a more “spirited” holiday beverage will only temporarily quiet the little voice – the better way to deal with it is to simply get it done.
I’ve learned something else about goal setting recently and that is that the traditional models don’t really work. I can’t tell you how happy that realization has made me because they certainly never helped me. According to successful personal coach, Todd Herman…
“The world you and I are living in is moving at a rate of change never experienced by humans before us. Technology is also getting cheaper and cheaper which is driving down barriers that have kept the less financially fortunate out of the game of business. Because of the number of new participants in the world of business we have entire industries changing so quickly that products and services can become obsolete overnight. Why does this matter to you? How many times have you been told to set “1 Year, 3 Year, 5 Year” goals? Based on not only the pace of change of the world we live in but also by the way your mind is wired, any goal beyond 90 days is a waste of time.”
Herman teaches his clients that a vision, which should be long-term, and a tangible goal are two entirely different things and any goal beyond 90 days is difficult to be motivated about. Research at the USC Mind & Society Center found that goals beyond 90 days increase the level of procrastination and, in another study, conducted by behavioral psychologists, Timothy Ludwig and E. Scott Geller, it was demonstrated that without the feedback loops of short term goals, motivation immediately drops off.
I find this all really exciting! First, because it just makes so much sense. And, second, because short term goal planning feels real to me and it will take far less effort to make myself focus on it rather than try to wrap my thoughts around what I should be doing six months or a year from now. How can you possibly know that without adjusting along the way based on results? Developing immediate, action-based and verifiable steps and using my Time Timer to help with each segment along the way may just make 2016 my most successful year so far.
And, with all of this comes the added benefit that, with far less effort and time, I get to go back to wholeheartedly enjoying the most wonderful time of the year!