5 Ways To Reduce Year-End Stress

 

I always forget how stressful this time of year is.

The hype is deceiving right? Christmas, peace, family, love.

We might get some of that too.

But if you are running a mission-driven business, year end may mean:

  • Looking for year-end donations – especially this year with the value of tax deductions likely decreasing significantly next year (added stress). This does not have to be stressful, but often is – so many expectations and weird stories we have about asking people for support.
  • Tying up loose ends before everyone disappears for a week or more. This might be hiring or firing staff; getting new staff on board and oriented for the new year. Things can feel pressured.
  • Facing a cash-flow crunch. Last-minute deals fall through; you may be running on the tail end of grand expenditures. I don’t need to explain this stress.
  • Closing out your books in the cleanest way possible, if you operate on a calendar year. If you are a for-profit business this may mean the difference between paying a lot or a little tax come spring. Financial decisions require focus. Hard to do when you are feeling stressed.
  • Dealing with an overworked, possibly underpaid staff that is trying to get ready for Christmas, especially if they have families. An unfocused team, only contributes to the sense of chaos.
  • Unexpected news – somehow at year end, people often finally feel comfortable making decisions they have been thinking about for a long time. Maybe important board or staff members leave unexpectedly, or perhaps you have personal losses of one kind or another.

Year-end can be SO stressful.

Here are 5 things to focus on to make this time of year easier.

1. Accept. Whatever is happening, each and every stressful thing has its own specific causes and conditions. You may or may not have had a role in it. The fact is, it is happening. You cannot stop it. Relax. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. As painful as it may be, face what is happening. This can give you the strength and clarity to make the best possible decisions.

2. Ask. Is there anything I can do to make this better? Even one small thing? There usually is. Anger, frustration, and anxiety keep us from seeing what might be possible for us to do in this moment.

3. Take NOTHING personally– let me repeat – NOTHING. Most of the time, people are doing the best they can, trying to end or avoid suffering themselves. That is often their biggest driver, just like you. When I realize this, really see it, the next immediate feeling is immense compassion for myself and others.

4. Be grateful. A man asked me for $25 so he could go to our local hotel run by a charity for homeless folks. $25 would have given him a real bed, a shower and a chance to wash his clothes. He had spent the last three nights in a downtown parking garage. I talked to him for a long time and received a hug. I went home, laid in my bed and realized how immensely fortunate I am to have a bed to sleep in every night, virtually unlimited access to clean clothes, water, food, let alone a business with the freedom to create. I have everything, but so quickly can talk myself into thinking I don’t have enough. I am deeply grateful for my good fortune.

5. Be generous. Yesterday a woman asked me if I could help her pay for gas. At first, I said, “No, I’m sorry.” Then, I changed my mind and filled her tank. She was extremely grateful and gave me a huge hug. She had just lost her job and her bigger priority was having enough money to buy her grandchildren presents. I don’t have kids, but helping her somehow connected me to her kids. It just felt good. Do for someone else. Practice in small ways. Immediately you will feel better.

Another way to relieve stress is to begin to more proactively create your new year. If you are a CEO or Executive Director with annual revenues in the $1 – $5 million range and want to get a jump on living your next year more stress-free, I have created a unique opportunity to support you in creating thriving 2018.

Check it out here.

These are some of the ways I know to relieve the inevitable stresses that present as we end the year.

What am I missing?

How do you relieve stress this time of year?

Share below.

What I learned on my summer vacation in Colorado

Sometimes a break from business is truly the best prescription to transform stress, widen awareness and gain perspective.  I could not fully unplug due to unforeseen problems with a project, but I still found it so worth while to get away.  Here are some simple lessons I learned from a recent break.

  • The views from Denver to Grand Junction aboard Amtrak are stupendous!
Amtrak coming around the bend of the Colorado River

View from Amtrak rounding the Colorado River

  • Waking up to sunshine, blue sky, and fresh Colorado air is awe-inspiring. Nothing fancy required to experience this glorious environment.

[Read more…]

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There will be tension as you create the next iteration productivityof your business, but there does not have to be stress.

In my last blog post I suggested an easy assessment for you to diagnose where your organization is on the continuum of sustainable high performance.

If you did not score as high as you would have liked, or if you are feeling stress, there is likely some kind of misalignment between you and your business.

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White water rafting

White water rafting on the French Broad River

Do you want to grow your business or organization?

Many of us want it, but when we get serious, start doing things differently, fear appears.  

Acting out of fear never gets good business results (see the story of Martha from an earlier blog).  Still, fear comes up.

I am learning to face my fears, one at a time, and to take action based on a deeper knowing (not on the fear).  Whitewater rafting helped me learn how to do this.

After years of little contact, my cousins proposed my family meet in the mountains of North Carolina for a vacation last summer. Their dream was to go whitewater rafting – one of my greatest fears, after my sister almost died doing it years ago. [Read more…]

4 Ways to Motivate Yourself and Your Team

shutterstock_79666759

Healthy engagement feels like fireworks! There is spark, creativity and joy. Anything becomes possible in business.

I read with interest the New York Times article “Why You Hate Work”.  It is a bit of a manifesto on disengagement and lack of motivation at work.

Tony Schwartz and Christine Porath define engagement (per a number of studies) as “involvement, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy”.

Motivated workers are engaged and engagement is widely correlated with higher performance at work.  According to Gallup studies across 192 companies, [Read more…]

Protect Your Success

jutting rock comp 2Last week I had lunch with one of the most successful non-profit Executive Director’s in North Carolina.
 
He manages a large organization with dozens of employees and hundreds clients and a many million dollar budget. 
 
He is smart.
 
He never gives up.
 
He and his organization get amazing results. 
 
Still something is ‘out of balance’.

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Is Leadership Born or Built?

VIEW OF B lue Ridge MountainsThis is the title of a recent article in the Washington Post by James Clawson.

He shared these opinions around this question of leadership:

 

 

Nigel Nicholson author of Executive’s Instinct suspects there may be ‘a leadership gene,’ that some people are simply born to ‘be in charge.’

Noel Tichy author of The Leadership Engine from the University of Michigan says leadership style and ability emerge from experience.

An unnamed former corporate executive says leadership is irrelevant.  A company’s performance is all about the proper employment contracts. [Read more…]

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Creating a clear path compressedDon’t for one moment under-estimate the power of your mind to transform your business.  Our minds operate in a basic, yet deeply powerful way.

If the mind is clear – we are happy.  
If the mind is polluted – we suffer.  

Our external circumstances reflect the state of our minds.  This is very true of our business life.

Clear Mind = Business Success

What is clear?

New Webster’s Dictionary defines clear as ‘free from darkness, cloudiness, muddiness, indistinctness, confusion, uncertainty, obstruction, entanglement, obligation or liability’.

These qualities pollute the mind, and their absence creates clarity. [Read more…]

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The list of traits includes:

  • Warmth,
  • Dominance,
  • Openness to change,
  • Self-reliance,
  • Sensitivity,
  • Perfectionism, (and others) [Read more…]

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frustrated businessman compressed for web Are you in the midst of creating a business?  Are you leading a large organization, or some part of it? Are you staffing a small non-profit?  Chances are you experience stress on a regular basis.  Stress comes in different packages, from all sides.

Essentially and always as you experience stress, you are in one place and you want to be in another place.  You are getting one result, and you need another.  You see suffering, you want to change it.  There is opportunity, and you want to take advantage of it.  But there is often stress as well.  Skillful Means says there can be these conditions without (or at least a lot less) stress.  How is that possible? [Read more…]

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