The end of Summer and the advent of Fall come with feelings of new beginnings. School has started for most children and adults find themselves post-vacation, staring down the last quarter of the year. As a business owner, you may feel the need to shift into a higher gear, to end the year in the positive column both financially and personally. Many people slow down over the Summer months. Life itself takes on a different speed, perhaps because of the warmer temperatures, scheduled vacations and the absence of the school-day grind of homework, extra-curriculars, packing lunches and strict bedtimes. But now, it’s time to get back in the groove and you may need to take a hard look at what you have done to increase your business this year, what has worked and what may now need to be reworked to finish the year positively and strong.
In his fascinating book, “Daily Rituals”, Mason Currey examines the habits and routines of famous people: artists, writers and politicians -the most creative amongst us. What was most surprising was how routinized these people are and were. We tend to think of artists as avant garde, leading lives of unscheduled ribaldry and discovery but nothing could be further from the truth. They are probably more routinized than the most proper and exacting professionals in our midst. What we found out was, they need to be that way to be successful in what they do. Just like we do.
The artists in the book adhere to their meticulous schedule because it serves their art to do so. Through their productive years, they’ve discovered certain habits that make their work easier to create and they fold these habits into their lives and keep them religiously.
Have you done the same things in terms of managing your business? If you look at your daily tasks, do they serve you and your business in positive ways, incrementally growing your business day by day? To be successful - whether in business, sports, art or any venture one puts oneself into - you must have self-discipline. There are always tasks that need to be completed that you would rather not do and perhaps you procrastinate for periods of time, circling them like a pit of quicksand, avoiding them at all costs. But there is a cost for doing this as you well know - you fall behind and other activities that you enjoy are affected because these tasks have not been finished or because you’ve avoided them for so long, they now seem insurmountable and depressing.
Cultivating self-discipline and routine in the execution of all of your tasks is the most important thing you can do and you can begin by scheduling tasks on a daily, weekly and monthly rotation and DO THEM on schedule. This cultivation requires planning on your part so think carefully about how these rituals will affect your business before putting them in place.
Next, take a deep dive into what is working and what is not working. Sometimes, we continue to do activities that do not serve us or our business well. When you implement a new activity, try to give it six months to bring results - any time short of that is not giving the activity time to ‘stick’ and make a difference. At the end of the six months, evaluate its efficacy and if you deem it to be lacking, remove it from your rituals. Then give some thought into what went wrong or didn’t work well, and try to develop another activity that will help you reach your goal. And while we’re talking about goals….
HAVE THEM!!! Create daily goals, weekly goals and ‘stretch’ goals which are goals that really make you get out of your comfort zone and give you the ability to launch your business into a much higher level of productivity. If you do not have goals, you do not have a target, something to shoot for, a higher aim. So let’s use the above strategies to finish the fourth quarter of the year with strength and positivity by doing the following:
Create rituals that keep you focused on your productivity and goals, in your personal as well as your professional life, (they overlap, you know!). Make sure these rituals eliminate procrastination from your life.
PLAN. Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.
Evaluate your practices and activities and replace ones that are not working with new initiatives. Then, re-evaluate again in six months.
Create and strive for the goals you set on daily, weekly, monthly and yearly schedules. Write them down and, as you execute the activities that will help you to obtain them, check them off a checklist. This can be immensely satisfying and rewarding.