Far too many leaders, squander the primely-positioned window of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day where distinct separation is created between those who simply manage what is handed them and those who lean into their full influence with tenacious focus. As one writer puts it, “Starting strong is good; finishing strong is EPIC.” (In contrast with those who keep more of a sedentary itinerary to close out the year, these 5 or so weeks have become a secret sauce of leaders who seems to mysteriously always have the wind at their back when they flip the calendar.) It is largely a choice of the WILL.
Here are a few disciplines that I observe in those who consistently start the new year with a “full head of steam” of which I am increasingly experiencing the annual benefits:
- They will fully lean into the feasting and be completely present in the family time without any sense of guilt.
- They will give extra time, energy, and money to help a few others close out their respective tough years “in the black.”
- They will invest significant, intentional time in praying and preparing to hit the ground running with fresh vision.
- They will thoughtfully add the next permanent-moving-forward discipline/habit in their personal space.
- They will dig into a book or two on personal development instead of overindulging in front of the TV, phone, or computer.
- They will free up their mind’s white space by automating and delegating everything possible.
- They will enjoy the good food and extra naps, but maintain an overall disciplined diet, routine, and exercise regiment.
- They will sing instead of bemoan their way-whether in the car, home, or church-into the new year.
- They will further let go of trying to be virtually omniscient about all things/all people/all places to relentlessly specialize in the local, relational contexts that God has place them.
- They will find novel, refreshing environments to gain fresh inspiration in their personal and professional lives.
- They will develop an annual plan for personal and family priorities as much as those of a professional, vocational nature.
- They will say “thank you” in thoughtful, meaningful ways to everyone who has shared in the past year’s successes.
- They will spend some time getting feedback from and dreaming out loud about the future with their God-assembled team.
- They will work at more intentionally resting on their weekly sabbaths.
- They will release, without gossip or bitterness, the inconsequential hurts and disappointments caused by others around them.
- They will focus less upon creating new opportunities and spending more time meaningfully meeting needs that already exist.
- They will ruthlessly declutter any energy-sapping aspects of their schedule, their belongings, and their responsibilities.
- They will embrace the inefficiencies of fresh ideas over the convenient ruts of repeating what they have already said and done for the umpteenth time.
- They will, in between the holidays, not just work in their profession but also on their profession.
- They will stop make excuses where they need to take full responsibility for where they are at and where they are headed.
- They will reflect anew and afresh upon the spiritual, eternal implications of the sacred truths that undergird these annually-celebrated holy days.
As Billy Sunday of yesteryear so visually preached, ““Stopping at third (base) adds no more to the score than striking out. It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish.” To score, as a leader, not just in the present year but also is the pending one, we must learn to finish strongly. Truly the FUTURE belongs to those FINISH well! Which of the above choices of the will do you need to prioritize between now and the ball-drop on January 1?