Show of hands: who’s feeling fatigued, stressed, and burned out after 20+ months of this pandemic?
As a small business owner and leader, I can admit that I’ve had my fair share of “No más!” moments. My list of challenges is probably similar to yours, including compassion fatigue, which even the most heart-driven leaders are experiencing these days.
As I write this, it’s nearing December: a time most business leaders use to unwind after a whole year of constant, never-ending work. I think you should absolutely carve out time to relax and unwind. Stepping away from your desk and celebrating the holidays with family and friends is absolutely essential for a purpose-driven, meaningful life. But I would caution you to not neglect your reflection and planning time.
Looking back and looking ahead is essential for your ability to lead with clarity, vision, and a sense of optimism.
I’d like to encourage you to end your year with a balanced perspective on what went well, what you learned, and where you want to guide your teams and company next.
But if you’re feeling too busy and burned out to reflect and plan ahead, here are some tips that can help you.
Planning: Don’t Go It Alone.
Business owners and many leaders feel alone. Certainly, it can be lonely at the top. But we’re not as alone as we might feel we are. Why not invite your team members to join you in the planning process? Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, schedule time with key team members to contribute to planning: weighing in on your thinking and bringing their ideas to the table. Great talent is always happy to have a seat at the table. This is a win-win idea.
Fill Up Your “Parking Lot” pad.
We follow the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) by Gino Wickman. He encourages business owners to keep a “Parking Lot” file of ideas to someday execute. You might not feel like you have the capacity to execute any new tactics or strategies from being burned out. If your hands are full, then take time to fill up your Parking Lot pad. That way, when you have more capacity, you have a working list of items to bring to life.
Remember Departments of One Need Plans, Too
Every department needs a business plan that rolls up to the company’s overarching strategic plan. Even if you’re a “Department of One,” you still need a plan. Remember the old adage, “A failure to plan is a plan for failure.”
Watch Out For The Recency Effect
“Recency Effect” is a cognitive bias in which items or ideas that came last are remembered more clearly than those that came first. Suppose your last 45 days were crummy. Don’t let that sour your perspective on your entire year! So take some time and create a “Highlights Reel”: those moments where you excelled, overcame the odds, and are great reminders that you’re awesome and doing just fine.
“I don’t have problems. I have puzzles.” — Quincy Jones
Ask Yourself: What Did I Learn?
Failure is par for the course. In fact, the more you strive for greatness, the higher the likelihood of failure. Too often, we personalize failure. That just leads to lower confidence. Instead, take time to look back on your year and ask yourself, “What did I learn?” I love the Quincy Jones’ quote: “I don’t have problems, I have puzzles.” Quincy removes the stress of having “problems” by reframing them as puzzles—and all puzzles can be solved! Remove the sting and stigma of “failure” by asking yourself, “What did I learn?”
Set Micro Planning Sessions
Who says you need to schedule a two-day offsite planning retreat to write your new plan? Instead, schedule a series of micro-planning sessions: between 30 minutes and 1 hour each over the next few weeks. Those micro, focused planning sessions add up to the same result: a working plan to help guide your days and focus for the year ahead.
The antidote to chaos isn’t control, it’s focus
All of us are hoping to return to something resembling normalcy in 2022. I think we’ve earned it! We can’t control the world around us, but we can influence how we show up to our days and the people in our lives. If you’re feeling threadbare, burned out, and “over it,” know you’re not alone—and know you can make progress to shape the quality of your life and outcomes.
Even if you have to do it in bite-sized chunks.