Practical Advice on How to Finish the Year Strong
When one thinks of the holiday season many thoughts come to mind. For many moms, it is a time to take a step back, take a deep breath, reflect, count our blessings and ponder, “What did I forget?” Many times, Christmas dinner was served without the vegetables because they were left in the microwave. Presents were left in a closet not wrapped. Airport guests were left at the airport because mom forgot about them. Relatives were not invited, not because they were not welcome but simply forgotten. Holiday cards were bought and left for next year. You get the picture.
Most moms look at this holiday season and see a time to tread water and whimper one’s way into the New Year, while projecting to the world a strong persona and a motto, “Finish the year strong.” This internal-external fight seems to be a trait that is past down by moms. As a mom told me the other day, “My daughter’s schedule is so full, I do not understand how she could do anything else.” With the same breath the mom proceeded to tell me all the events that her daughter had to add to her upcoming schedule: choir concerts and practices, festive gatherings, gift shopping, homework, work, projects, SAT preparation and finals. She then wanted to know why her student had little or no motivation to finish the year strong and was sleepwalking through her schedule. The reality is, for many moms and students, they are overwhelmed and cannot perceive how they are going to finish today’s tasks, let alone the additional tasks the holiday season brings. Therefore, here are five suggestions on how one can finish the year strong.
Set a goal for the rest of November and December
Top-level athletes, successful businesswomen and top achievers all set goals. Setting goals gives one motivation to keep moving forward. Moms ask all the time, “How do you manage three businesses, homeschool and keep your sanity?” The simple answer is, it’s a magic trick. The long answer is, a to-do list. To-do lists are, by their nature, a way to keep moms on task and focused on their goals. They are perfect for students to keep up with homework, study for finals and work on projects. To-do lists need to be done daily and should be used as a tool to build oneself up. They should never be used to tear oneself down. Some days, these lists can have as few as one item on them and other days as many as ten. Don’t be supermom and make a to-do list that requires superhuman abilities to accomplish. Also, don’t make a to-do list that requires a time-machine or a break in fabric of time to complete. When writing out one’s to-do list, one must stop and evaluate it, ensuring it can be done in one day. Remember, the to-do list is written to keep oneself on track, achieve one’s goals, make oneself feel good and remind oneself of what has been accomplished.
There is no time like the present.
Taking a glance through social media, idioms are back in style. So, where does one start? That may sound like a flippant question because all day long, as a mom, we tell our children to do this or that with the timeframe of “NOW.” When it comes to our lives, though, many hesitate, quiver and use excuses not to effect change now. We would rather dance around getting started than jump right in head first. My mom was fantastic at not procrastinating or putting off to tomorrow what needed to be started today. Her focus on achieving goals, task-oriented nature and willingness to endure immediate discomfort for the hope of lasting happiness tomorrow was remarkable. That gene missed my generation and caused a lot of friction between us. Over time, we learn from our moms how to complete tasks. It is like a passed down mom secret. In mom’s case she would write out a to-do list, and then she would start singing a song to get herself moving. The song came from an animated Christmas Classic, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and the song was, “Put One Foot in Front of the Other.” This song was the catalyst that made her happy, got her on task and, the best part, got her moving.
Put one foot in front of the other / And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor
Put one foot in front of the other / And soon you’ll be walking out the door
You never will get where you’re going / If you never get up on your feet
Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing / A fast walking man is hard to beat….
If you want to change your direction / If your time of life is at hand
Well don’t be the rule, be the exception / A good way to start is to stand…
Getting on track for many moms and students involves getting up and putting one foot in front of the other. There is no time like the present. One knows that December is going to be a busy month, so start the process now in November. Set a new trend, get ahead now.
Choose one project to finish
Moms and students constantly ask, “What do I start with? There are too many projects that need to get done.” Some moms use a priority scale, some start on the smallest project first, some start on the project that will take the most amount of time and some prioritize by due date. The method one chooses to do the tasks does not matter. The important part is to choose one project and get started and get it finished.
If it is not scheduled, it does not happen. This is the reality for most moms and students. If one does not block out time in one’s schedule to do tasks, they will not get done. We all function on the idea or thought that we will have spare time in our schedules where we can work on important tasks. When was the last time one had spare time in one’s schedule? Scheduling time for one’s tasks is only part of the desired outcome. This time needs to be without interruptions, made a priority and one can not allow anything to influence that scheduled time. A student said to me the other day, “here is my scheduled time to study, but it does not seem to ever happen because things come up.” My answer was simple, “If one’s boyfriend called and asked one to the movies, would one allow anything else to influence that time?” The answer would be a resounding, “No, unless it was mom or dad making the change.” Therefore, schedule it, make it without interruption, set it as a high priority and one will achieve one’s goal.
Trust but verify one is on course
“Trust but verify” is an old Russian proverb. As a child, every task assigned in our house was verified. This developed parental expectations and established a work ethic. When it comes to self-accountability, though, it can feel a little silly or even weird, but it is the crucial piece in assuring one is on course toward one’s goals. Keeping oneself accountable is not a tool to tear oneself down. On the contrary it is a positive tool to ensure one is achieving one’s goals. Self-accountability is best viewed in the light of a celestial navigator. Here the navigator uses their sextant to find their way by the sun, moon, stars and planets. By knowing their destination, the navigator could use these markers to identify if the ship was on course or needed a course correction. Therefore, if one knows where one wants to go, does the work to get there, evaluates, and navigates through life one will achieve one’s goal.