Time to take stock

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There’s no doubt that we’re now racing towards the end of the year…A year which has been very tough for many business owners – who have dealt with more crises, sent more emails, attended more meeting and consequently worked longer days than ever before. Amidst this blur of busyness it’s sometimes easy to mistake all this activity for effectiveness. But what have you actually achieved?

Take a moment and answer the four questions below to assess how far you’ve come:

 1 How much of the time that you’ve spent being busy has contributed directly towards the priority goals and objectives you set out for yourself or your business at the beginning of the year?

It is common practice for goals and objectives to be searchingly and painstakingly identified, recorded…  and then forgotten, overtaken by the crisis of the day, every day.

2 How much progress have you made on your personal development goals or career plan?


Most of us have personal development ambitions that are important, but never seem as urgent as settling a disagreement with a major client, getting a plant back online after a shutdown or providing  customer service through a software malfunction.

 3 Are you happy with the balance maintained between work, family and your personal needs?

Many of us have given up talking about work-life balance, recognising that it’s almost impossible to achieve. But if you want to be in the top 20% of your profession, you’re going to have to put in the hours. You’re also going to focus on and recognise your priorities and commitments, how they change, and how best you can balance conflicting demands.

4 Will you be answering email while on holiday?

The brain has two modes when paying attention to information; an executive function that keeps you engaged in a task; and a daydreaming mode that allows your thoughts to be loosely connected and uncontrolled. Day-dreaming is a creative, restorative function. It brings insights that only come when the chatter in your head dies down and you allow your brain to freewheel. What better time to do this than when you’re on holiday?

If you’ve answered “most of it, lots, yes and no” to the four questions, you’ve clearly figured out how to thrive and be effective in today’s world. If you haven’t, don’t think that the coming year will be any different. If the pace and complexity of our lives change, it is more likely to get worse than to get better.

There may not be much in your environment that you can change, but you can decide how you will respond to it.

If you are unhappy about how you have handled things this year, perhaps some daydreaming over the holidays will help you to come up with a better plan for 2016. The old adage applies: If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.

Maureen Collins founded Straight Talk in 2005 to work with individuals and organisations that are serious about changing their behaviour. Contact her on maureen@straight-talk.co.za or visit: www.straight-talk.co.za.

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