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…]

Holiday Pause

Lots of candles on dark background

Silence.  The gift of silence.  The gift of beauty, of color, of texture.

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stop, give yourself these gifts now.

Can you sense these things?

Allow the senses to open and recognize the beauty that immediately surrounds you.

Can you see it clearly? [Read more…]

High Stress or High Performance?

Sustainable high performance means work flows; actions are productive and lead to important outcomes.

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.

Lack of alignment impedes communication, clear focus, flow of work, effective planning and if left unaddressed, leads to stress, frustration and even burnout.

How do you get more clarity, more focus, and in the end, lead your organization toward a sustainable future? [Read more…]

Creating an Intentional Re-charge Day

christmas ornamentThis year I am encouraging my coaching clients, emerging leaders in their businesses and organizations, to take a whole day over the holidays to re-charge and re-set their systems.

This is critical in a world where we have trained ourselves to mostly react to outside stimulation. The mind and body become exhausted and depleted from this constant outward focus.

December and winter are a great time to go inward. Business activity slows for many. It is cold outside. Time to come in.

Here is a step-by-step guide to creating a special re- charge day: [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’.

[Read more…]

Want a reliable source of knowledge for business? Try your body.

I am so happy it is Spring.

This winter was one of the hardest I can remember in my adult life.

Sometimes I feel like I have been ‘routed’ – meaning stripped clean.

Difficult times seem to do this.

Not pleasant, but clarifying.

Serious illnesses among close loved ones and the long end of life process for our little dog challenged me beyond words to remain fully present to my life and business. [Read more…]

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…]

Know Your Mind – Transform Your Business

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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