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Career

How to Make the Most of the Last Two Months of the Year

Career, ProductivityMarisol DahlComment

With the holidays upon us, it's easy to write off the next two months. Q4 is often considered a “lost quarter” in terms of work and productivity, especially if we have the promise of a shiny New Year just around the corner.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. The key to successful quarterly planning is to not treat each quarter like all the others. It’s important to take into account the time of year, acknowledge where you are in your life/career/business, and gauge your productivity levels moving forward. You have to look at the big picture, and set realistic expectations for yourself.

3 Ways to Make the Most of the Last Two Months of the Year

Tie up loose ends: What one or two things have you been resolving to do forever but just can’t seem to finish? Now is a great time to clear the decks and wrap up all those projects and to-dos that always seem to get pushed to the back-burner. This is a great end of year goal especially if you are wary of taking on completely new projects at this time.

Focus on relationships: Instead of seeing the holidays as time and productivity-sucks, use them as an “excuse” to get in touch and open up opportunities for stronger connection and collaboration. This is a natural time to check in with your extended family, old classmates, former colleagues, and any other business contacts you’d like to keep in touch with—it won’t be awkward since this is one of the most social seasons of the year.

Do sprints: Use your schedule as an indicator of when it’s time to hustle, and when it’s time to let it flow. Instead of trying to evenly pace your work over the next two months, identify a few periods of time where you can do “sprints”—times where you can kick focused work into high gear and make a lot of progress in a short period of time. When you’re “off-sprint,” enjoy the time to celebrate what you achieved and get much-needed rest.

See my full post on Life After College. 

 

 

What To Do When You're Second-Guessing Your Dream

Career, CreativityMarisol DahlComment

Take stock: We often stop enjoying things when there are toxic elements that are ruining it for us. Do the people you live/work with support you? Does your company culture help or keep you from doing great work? Sometimes it’s not your dream that’s the problem—it’s your environment.

Pivot: Sometimes you outgrow your dreams. As Jenny Blake notes in a recent Fast Company article, your plateau isn’t a problem, but a sign of success.*

For many, it's the experience of continually picking up new things and meeting fresh challenges that keeps us going, making the inevitable plateau of success uncomfortable. But that plateau isn't wrong or bad—it's not an indication that you've failed. It's a sign that you've succeeded, and now have to sort out what comes next.

Take a break: As Gala Darling so lovely puts it in When The Flame of Your Passion Starts to Flicker:

We’re taught to push push push, no matter what. The fear is real: ‘If I stop now, will I be forgotten in a week?!’ We think that doing nothing would be worse than burning out, and that only goes to show how desperate our addiction to “doing” is. (If you’re not constantly doing, then there’s time for… Gasp… THOUGHTS! Emotions! Dealing with your actual life! How terrible!)

*For more about this, read PIVOT: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One.

 

How to Ground Your Awesome

Happiness, Career, HealthMarisol DahlComment

Keep the emails that make you smile. Every time you get a note that boosts your spirits, drop it in an Evernote folder, an email folder/label, or Google Doc. It will be nice to look back on them whenever you’re feeling down.*

Don’t throw away your to-do lists. They remind you of what you’ve accomplished, and can help you accurately discuss your work and not accidentally downplay your role and impact.

Express gratitude for yourself. Routinely expressing gratitude at the beginning and end of the day is a highly recommended mindfulness practice. Recently I’ve been taking it one step further by making sure I always recognize my gratitude for some part of myself—a personality trait, something I did that day, or even a part of my body. Generosity can and should be channeled inward, not just outward.

*A salute to Jenny Blake for this tip (she calls it a “Keepers File”!). And Sarah von Bargen also recently wrote about her Smile File folder.