As we’re approaching the final few days before 2017 draws to a close and January first rolls around, we’re afforded a rare kind of commodity—free time.
If you’re anything like me, having founded an online community and global live events company, free time isn’t something you come by very often. In fact, the very words may be foreign to you and you may have even already started spinning your wheels about your next lineup of projects.
I find that as entrepreneurs, our ambitions can work both for and against us.
While we’re self-motivated, overachieving, and relentless in the pursuit of our goals, we can often be so focused on the “next” big thing we want to create that we forget to stop and appreciate what we’ve already accomplished.
That’s why I wanted to bring some intentionality to this time to help you make the most of it.
Below, I share seven practices I’m personally implementing right now that will help you close your year out strong to maximize your well-being and efficiency for the start of the new year.
1. Acknowledge Your Accomplishments. The holidays provide a bountiful opportunity to reflect on your accomplishments over the past year and celebrate everything you’ve achieved. Take inventory of the goals you reached this year and how they each made you feel. Consider journaling about them or even memorializing them in a physical, tangible way. What was special about each achievement? Did you do something you formerly thought was impossible? Did you gain new friendships along the way?
Reward yourself for your accomplishments with a token of appreciation. According to HBR, even small rewards can powerfully motivate future goal-oriented behavior and validate a job well done. Jamil Velji, a web entrepreneur who builds custom scalable growth engines, says, “‘Treat yo self’, just like Aziz Ansari’s character in Parks and Recreation says. Treating yourself to acknowledge your accomplishments over the year both physically and mentally is an important step in readying yourself for that next step. If I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished something this year, why would I put in the effort next year?
2. Create Space For Integration. Don’t let what you’ve learned in the past year slip away from you. Set aside deliberate space to review what you’ve learned and ingrain your knowledge into your memory. You might discover new, surprising connections between what you learned in the past and what you’re up to right now.
3. Prioritize Self Care. As leaders, the majority of our work consists of serving others. It can be all too easy to forget about yourself and become accustomed to running on low-grade fuel. Use this time to restore your energy and commit to raising your base level of self-care. Self-sacrificial service may be well-intentioned, but the truth is we can’t pour into others from an empty cup. When you’re more resourced, you have more to give. Consider treating yourself to a deep tissue massage, making nourishing food choices, and meditating.
4. Gift Yourself Lower Taxes. If you’re willing to do some dirty work right now, you can substantially reduce your tax payments later on in the year. Michael Dash, an entrepreneur, business owner, speaker, and mentor says, “Pay down as much taxable income as possible by looking into prepaying rent, business services, planned trips or any other known expenses for 2018.”
Akil Kurji, a serial entrepreneur specializing in the web-to-print and promotional products industry, says, “Liquidating and selling inventory is important to limit property tax, purchasing equipment to take advantage of section 179, and focusing on wrapping up end-of-the-year numbers.”
5. Unplug From Technology. Managing so many different commitments often requires us to be on-call ‘round the clock. Responding to emails throughout the day and maintaining an active online presence can be taxing. While it’s normalized in our society to spend an obscene amount of time behind the screen—10 hours and 39 minutes daily for adults in America—it’s not healthy. High screen time is correlated with brain atrophy, impaired cognitive functioning, and weight gain.
Consider “unplugging” this holiday break and you’ll reap a host of benefits. You may find yourself more at ease and more available to be present with your loved ones. Jennifer Spencer, a contributing writer at various press outlets and co-founder of Authority Life, a brand storytelling company, says, “Turning off technology is essential for online entrepreneurs. End the year from a place of being grounded and connected to yourself rather than connecting to phone buzzing.”
6. Work On A Creative Project. Creative expression can be a wellspring of inspiration, positive emotions, and even improved mental and physical health. Consider dedicating yourself to a creative project during your time off. If you’re not sure what to do, try something new like basket weaving or woodworking, or revisit a favorite childhood activity. Reading daily is a cherished creative practice of mine.
7. Spend Time With Family. Perhaps the greatest thing you can do during this holiday break is to spend time with family. There’s simply no substitute for reconnecting with your loved ones in shared physical space. Seek to attune to others and discover what’s important in their lives. Remember to unplug and instead spend time doing activities that foster connection and joy.
Author: Jules Schroeder