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How to manage December: Reflect and Resolve

29 Nov

It’s never too soon for a New Year’s Resolution.

October, November and December are very special to me. Holidays galore, true, but there are special calendar days for the entire world all year long and my particular celebrations aren’t shared by everyone. But important to me and mine is significant enough. And the final quarter of the calendar year matters beyond one’s celebration du jour.

October is a 31 days of scary. My favorite freaky movies are playing 24/7 on cable. This, of course, means I get more crocheting than writing done.

November – ahhh. Sweet, crisp, November brings the first of the snow for the Treasure Valley. The mountains will have been blanketed for weeks . . . poor Meredith. Even better, November begins with the last of the summer clearance as retailers make way for the buying horde. Yep, I’m a sucker for flea markets, clearance whatevers and one-day-only schemes. I draw the line at Black Friday. Herds scare me. Sheep, cows, people. Pick your species – herds, like offensive linemen and my daughters with entourage, intimidate.

December is the biggie. December is gold. Not only because of the celebrations (and, face it, gingerbread dipped in white chocolate deserves a day of silent reflection), but it’s my time for a stern look at the year. What did I accomplish?

In my day job, I teach, consult on and research organizational/individual performance. I’ve shared bits and pieces during the past few months on this blog. One of my ‘best practices’ is to accept a truth. While we can’t do much more than experience time, we CAN manage our priorities to enhance life. We need to look at what we value as an end along with those values we use to shape the process. Prioritize the how of life, not just the result.

December, not January, is my time to assess and adjust.

 Using three categories – Healthy to, Have to, and Hanker to, I blend my personal and professional hopes into ‘what to accomplish’ and ‘how to accomplish’ H-goals. My December reflection forces me to assess whether I ‘got er done’.  (I really ADORE the phrase, but suspect I’m simply embracing, with an odd pride, my redneck roots. Seriously. It’s as much fun as ‘serendipity’ and ‘puhfendorf’ especially with rapid-fire repetition . . . and it’ll get stuck in your head like an Elvis song.)

I don’t use a seven day week in planning. People (and organizations) often adjust performance unconsciously after Wednesday. A ten day (or so) block ‘tricks’ my subconscious into maintaining momentum. I divide the year into three-month blocks and each month into approximately three ten day blocks and then work backward. Though I can’t always devote a major effort towards a goal every day (and we’ve all had days where existing is Nobel-worthy), I can commit to doing something to facilitate each goal during every ten-day or three month block. If I diversify those small steps toward a larger goal (e.g., different approaches, yet the same path), then I don’t get bored with repeating the same action, but still make measurable progress. An unfinished task during a particular day or hour doesn’t need to discourage me from continuing the quest. I’m keeping focus on a larger block of time.

But life happens. (Ya can’t beat a good cliché. I’ll work on giving them up in 2012. Time will tell. Oops.). December, like every other month in our lives, is a time to celebrate. And – to consider where glitches skewed my good intentions. To fess up when I lost sight of a bigger goal by paying more attention to technique than purpose. I’m a day or so away from the big ‘end of the year inventory’ for 2011, but I’m more confident now than the last half decade. Oh, I’m expecting a little self tsk-tsking here and there. Still, we deserve to embrace our personal character arcs as much as the ones we tweak for our heroines.

Thank you for letting me share these thoughts. Would you return the favor? What do you celebrate about you as this year closes? Don’t wait until January 1. Make December about starting anew.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on November 29, 2011 in December, goals, Idaho, time management

 

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14 responses to “How to manage December: Reflect and Resolve

  1. Carley Ash

    November 29, 2011 at 6:57 AM

    Great blog, Liz. December is my birthday month, so I celebrate the passing of another year. I use this month to reflect and to set goals for the upcoming year.

     
  2. Janis McCurry

    November 29, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    I love December because it says family to me. I think of how blessed I am and I try to never forget that, even when I’m cranky, frustrated, or down on myself. I have a home, family, things I love to do in my life. I’m good.

     
  3. Marsha R. West

    November 29, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Very thought provoking blog, Liz. I certainly believe in goal setting, but boy you have it down to a fine art. January is my birthday month, and I too, kind of use this as a guide mark. (Like every year I determine to be 10 pounds lighter by the next year. LOL this year I made that in September, but then went on vacation followed by the holidays and ooops.) The good thing about goals is you can adjust and keep at them.

    (When my kids were home and when I worked in the school system, my year ran from September through August. I was so glad when they came out with calendars like that.)

    In my RWA chapter (and I may have mentioned this one other time), we fill out our goals for the year on 3 X 5 cards writing a couple of goals for each quarter. Then the president hands them back throughout the year for us to see how we’re doing. No one else sees them, but we are inspired to dig deeper or to enjoy the self-congratulatory pat on the back for a job well done.

    And, Liz, cliche’s are wonderful. Like: “Without a roadmap, we won’t know when we’ve reached our destination.” I may have paraphrased a bit, but you get the idea. Marsha

     
    • Liz Fredericks

      November 29, 2011 at 8:08 AM

      Thanks Marsha! I’m with you on the school-based calendar year – between the kids and I, August to June often defines everything we do. I like the approach of your RWA chapter- it’s good to have that kind of support.

       
  4. Liz Fredericks

    November 29, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    Hey Carley! Happy early birthday!

     
  5. Meredith Conner

    November 29, 2011 at 11:40 AM

    Ah Liz, you always get me thinking. I think that I would have to celebrate my writing this year. Nothing has actually changed – in terms of getting closer to being published – but I’ve found my groove and a sort of confidence in my own writing. I feel like I “get er done.”

     
    • Liz Fredericks

      November 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM

      Thanks Meredith! As I’ve been lucky enough to read some of you work, I’d have to say you definitely ‘got er done’. Your latest ms is sparkly and engaging with enough of a bite to keep me turning pages!!!! Publication is just another step in the process and next year should be golden for you.

       
  6. ramblingsfromtheleft

    November 29, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    Liz, to borrow another one … there is much “food for thought” in this post (sorry, I could not resist).

    For me 2011 was a year of great change. The reassessment of my health and lifestyle, my place of residence, and my work. (I am retired and write full time). I’ve accomplished the goal of better health with a change in lifestyle, I’ve found an adorable boutique apartment where I will be relocating and my work has reaped the benefits of it all. I completed and submitted to literary small press my first literary novella, I have also completed the two novels I will submit for publication and in general, with my blog and with my writing, I have accomplished 97% of what I set out to do. The last 3% will be completed by Little Christmas, January 6th. That is when my “new year” actually begins. I count little Christmas and the Chinese New Year as the real beginning and not January 1st.

    I’ll spare you the details of 2012, but to say the least, the momentum I have built this year will carry me to new heights!

     
  7. Liz Fredericks

    November 29, 2011 at 4:20 PM

    I LOVE hearing that people have hit their goals. Congratulations!

     
  8. Lynn Mapp

    November 29, 2011 at 8:40 PM

    Liz, Liz, Liz…I could keep going. Goal setting. Reflecting. I need to reflect. Okay. My goals have been simple. Get up in the morning. Show up at work and do my job to the best of my ability. Be present in family and friends’ lives. Write when there is fire. Think about the flames engulfing my life.

     
  9. Johanna Harness

    November 30, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    I really love the idea of thinking in 10-day blocks of time. It feels like cheating–like I get three more days in every week. 😀

     
  10. Mary Vine

    November 30, 2011 at 4:22 PM

    I think about my goals in December, too, probably because I have two weeks off for Xmas. It is a luxury, I know, but I use it well – writing. So, by January I know what my goals will be and get going on my way. Hopefully.

     
  11. Clarissa Southwick

    December 11, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Liz, I love your time management tools. Obviously, I’m not doing a great job of my own time management or I would have commented sooner. Thanks for encouraging us to focus on our celebrations instead of our failures.

     

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