How to Make the Most of the Last Few Weeks of 2018

I really hate to sound just like everyone else but I can’t believe it’s December! It’s such a cliché to talk about ‘how quickly time is going’ but sometimes I think the reason it’s such a conversation starter (filler?) is because it’s only when we look up from what we are doing, or it’s brought to our attention because our monthly bills have come out of our bank accounts, that we realise it’s happening. So, what happens when we are hurtling towards the end of the year and we are hit with the panicked thought of ‘what did I even get done?!’.

For the last few years, I haven’t enjoyed the global fascination with checking off the days until Christmas. That’s because for me Christmas = the end of the year (no one really does anything between Christmas Eve and New Years Day, do they?), and, instead of it being a ‘wahoo! End of the year! Come at me, New Year’ moment, for me it’s a ‘oh my god, what’s happening, why am I getting old, did I get the things done’ moment.

This year, I’m trying to look at things differently. Not just because I actually want to enjoy the anticipation of Christmas (some would argue that the anticipation is the best bit. I am some) but also because I’ve realised that my business and my life don’t actually need to have expiration dates.

Of course, I’m not saying that I don’t have regular deadlines – far from it. In my business, I have daily, weekly and monthly deadlines that I need (try) to meet in order to grow and to inch closer to where I want my business to end up. But, I’ve started to realise that focusing too much on our deadlines and giving every task a specific ‘must be done by now’ date can do more harm than good. 

When you’re running your business, or a department or a project at work, you need to remember that your biggest and most important ‘deadlines’ are most likely going to be constant, running things. You can’t make a useful to-do list if you only list things that will realistically take a year or longer to complete (hint: ‘have a successful business’ is not an item to have on your list – when would you check that off as done?). Instead, you need to focus on the small things you can get done that will take you one step closer to your big goals. This is the best way to overcome the end-of-the-year panic.

So, with 3 working weeks left until Christmas Eve, how can you make the most of them and end 2018 feeling accomplished and ready to take on the New Year? It’s time to do a Santa and make a list (sorry, I couldn’t help myself).

The difference between this list and, if you’re like me, every other to-do list you’ve ever made is that this one should contain only those few things that you can legitimately get done in 3 weeks that will put you in a good position come January. As an example, here’s my list:  – create 4 pieces of content for my business website’s blog – do an hour a week of the two training courses I signed up to – make a plan for the things I want to do in January.

It doesn’t seem like much but I know that I can get these 3 things done between now and December 21st (when I’ll stop for Christmas) and that, by doing them, I will feel less antsy about the end of the year and more motivated about moving into 2019.

What 3 things can you get done by the end of 2018? What 3 things can you do that in the remaining 3 working weeks of the year that will move you closer to where you want to be in 2019?

Trust me, friend, I know it’s hard to focus on the small steps. I get so overwhelmed sometimes, it’s crazy. So join me, let’s make a new tradition – let’s do what we can now and then chill out and enjoy the festivities. I really believe that you can do this; all you have to do is try.

I’d love to know your 3 things and if you have any other tips; let me know in the comments!

The One Thing You Need to Start Your Own Business

I quit my full-time, permanent job in mid-August to set up my own business. By the time I had my last day at the end of September (after working my notice period), I had been itching to leave for about 6 months. So, needless to say, when the time came that I could actually begin to tell people ‘I’m setting up my own business’, I was raring to go.

I had been sitting on something that I was so passionate about for what felt like forever; I was making plans and scribbling so many notes and ideas that I was filling up notebooks faster than I could buy them. The great part of all this is that I have a really clear vision of where I want my business to go and how I am going to get there. The downside? I have run out of patience.

I should say that I am not the most patient person by nature anyway. During my PhD studies I was constantly thinking about other things: what I wanted to do afterwards, what skills I should be developing, what else could I do to help myself along. I volunteered with a charity, attended courses for skills I don’t even use today, lectured students, published two papers, did public outreach, had my own blog (before this one), got engaged, planned my wedding, got married, moved house 3 times and got a cat, all during the 3.5 years it took me to successfully finish my PhD (my graduation is this Friday!).

This isn’t to brag; in fact, I know some people would look at all the things I devoted energy to during my PhD as a bad thing. They might think that I didn’t really give one thing my all and spread myself too thin over multiple things. What can I say? That’s just me. I overthink, I multitask, I work fast and (if I am to believe the evidence I’ve seen thus far) I work well. But the problem with being this type of person is that I have no patience. I underestimate how long things will take me; I overestimate what I can get done in a day, a week, a year. I am my own worst enemy and my best cheerleader. If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

One of the things I have realised is that when you are setting up your own business (or trying to reach any goal), patience is key. You have to realise from the outset that things take time, otherwise you will probably go insane. I’ve started to think of my business like a garden. Right now, I am planting seeds. All the things I am doing – marketing, writing blog posts, engaging with other people, networking, training – will not bear fruits immediately. But with attention and dedication, my seeds will start to sprout into shoots and my shoots will eventually grow into fruit.

You can do this, too. Try to see every day as a small step towards a bigger goal; every task you complete is you planting a seed. When you feel overwhelmed (because, if you’re anything like me, I am sure you will every now and again), try to break things down. Looking ahead and seeing the ‘big picture’ is great and really necessary, but it can be scary.

Write down what you can get done this week or this month that will go toward the big picture. Break it down into manageable steps. Plants your seeds and give your garden your whole attention: water it, feed it, weed it every now and again. But remember: the best thing you can give it is time.

Do you have any tips for staying patient when you’re trying to reach a goal? Let me know in the comments!