So the Christmas break is once again upon us and through the halls and boardrooms of organisations everywhere there’s a sense the joy as people start thinking about time off at home or away with family and love ones. And accompanying that same sense of joy comes the thought of, ‘it will be nice to have some downtime to think about the year ahead’.
Which is a tricky because this time of year presents a conundrum. On one hand it’s a great opportunity to plan the next 12 months, especially without the distraction of work, but if we are not careful we miss the chance to turn off and indulge it a very important catalyst for a productive year; to relax and reset. It’s one of the beautiful tensions that appear in business.
These are those times when two things that appear to be in conflict with each other but are actually working together. Like a tug of war where two opposing sides need each other because if one side lets go of the tension then both side’s collapse and no one wins.
It is this time of year when this tension appears. On one side is the need to take time to think and plan for the year ahead, because planning is vital to success and the end of the year is the perfect time to do so. But on the other side is the need to relax, do nothing and find a calm state of mind because neurologically your brain needs that.
When you are stressed, have too much on your plate or feel overwhelmed the limbic system of your brain (the part that monitors emotions) figures you are emotionally overcooked and inhibits the thinking and creative side of your brain. The reason it does this is so it can focus on important stuff like keeping your heart beating and making sure your fight and flight response is ready for any physical danger. It’s an old trick the human brain developed long ago before. Neurologically this is why you can’t think straight when you are stressed and over worked and the reason brain fog sets in and keeps getting denser. So it’s important during Christmas and your time off to truly relax and give your brain the opportunity to defog.
However on the other side of the tension is the need to work and plan the next 12 months because without a good, clear plan your business or career will be reactive through 2016 and simply meander with the outside world. It makes business sense to plan the year ahead and the time to do it is now.
So on one hand we need to relax and do nothing to be more productive and on the other hand we need to crack on and plan. Good news is they both work hand in hand. Having a clear mind will mean and better plan for the year ahead and a good plan will help keep a clear head through the up and downs of 2016.
Allocate planning time
Before you get into the break and turn off, designate a few hours to mull over your plan for next year. Don’t get too detailed just plant seeds as to what you want to achieve.
Find the emotional connection
It is when we add emotion to a goal or plan that we start to take ownership of it. Again this is largely due to the limbic system of your brain which connections emotion with actions. So spend time working on why you want to achieve what you want to achieve and what it really means to you.
Now go enjoy your break and do nothing in relation to work (unless of course you are, for example, a surgeon on call then fair enough). Spend time with your family, go boating, watch the cricket, travel to where ever it is you are traveling to and just be there and enjoy it. Clear you head, relax and have fun.
Revisit your plan
Once you are back on board, revisit the plan and fill in the detail. And here’s the kicker. Having primed your brain with the beginnings of your plan and then stepping away and enjoying life for a while you will find when you come back to the plan, things will be clearly, easier to solve and your come at it with a fresh mindset. It’s as if your brain will have worked on it without you.
Have a great Christmas break, Happy New Year and looking forward to a productive and profitable 2016.