In sports they refer to the “calm before the storm” as visualization. It’s the few moments before a professional golfer addresses the ball, when they are visualizing where they want to ball to go and how it will fly there. Or it’s when a race car driver sits quietly and visualizes how he’ll run his race; the way he’ll enter and exit each turn on the track. It’s the mental preparation immediately before you do whatever it is you’re best at doing.
Be quiet and find your focus
The idea for this post occurred to me a few hours ago while I was quietly hiking through a forest. While that hike was a form of preparation, it wasn’t the calm before the storm of my fingers clicking along on the keyboard to create this post. That calm occurred right after I bought my hot chocolate and sat by the fire. I typed a working title for this post, then sat calmly, looked at the title, sipped hot chocolate and thought about what it was I really wanted this post to be about.
It’s simple really. Find that calm and quiet place inside you that allows you to focus the vast majority of your energy – both physical and mental – on the task before you.
Once I was able to quiet all the thoughts racing around in my head related to the 17 other things I was worrying about, I was able to start typing a meaningful and useful blog post.
Calm can occur in a crowd or not
Today, I’m writing in the middle of the afternoon in a crowded coffee shop. The background noise would be impossible for me to deal with if it weren’t for a playlist and my ear buds. With those I’m able to shut out the noise that would be otherwise distracting. All the people and visual hustle and bustle for some reason doesn’t bother me. Maybe the noise won’t bother you but the distraction of all the people will. Figure out what works for you so you can create you best work almost anywhere.
My other calm place/time for writing is first thing in the morning from about 5 to 7 a.m. The house or hotel room is quiet and it’s just me, a cup of coffee, an idea and the keyboard. In this environment, I prefer no background playlist and ear buds. I just enjoy the click-clack of the keyboard as the letters leave my fingertips and form words that turn into sentences and paragraphs.
The point is that you create your own calm before the storms that are your life. You decide how to prepare to create your best work. And make no mistake, a few moments of preparation make the task before you much more manageable.
Now it’s your turn. How do you prepare to create? What doe the calm before the storm look like for you?
Some folks view December as a time to work a little less and coast right into the new year. While that may work for some, here’s a different approach for you to consider: Finish projects that have been started and seem to have stalled while also making time to plan for success in the coming year. The following is one way to go about that.
Assess incomplete projects
I recommend using services such as Basecamp, a notebook and pencil or another appropriate tool to manage and track your bigger projects. For my company, this includes both internal projects to improve our business processes and external client-centered projects. The reality is some of the projects should probably just be deleted from the list if you have not gotten to them in a year or more. Others, however, are important to your business and utilizing this last month of the year to bring them to completion can help set your plan for success next year.
You only have a month. What are you going to do with it?
This month will fly by quickly; especially with the holidays and parties that come along with them. Regardless, it’s not a throw-away month. It’s a month to finish what you’ve started this year and prepare yourself for an even more successful next year. Search for that one business process project that can free up hours of time each week for you and your team. These hours will allow you to serve your customers even better next year than you did this year. People want the personal touch now more than ever. The tricky part is finding the time to provide it.
Take care of your current customers
Sometimes in the constant hustle to find new business and new customers, we forget about those that helped us get where we are today. This is a great time of year to look at the promises you’ve made and not yet kept to your current customer base. Get your team focused on those promises that are most important to your clients and to your own plan for success as well. Pick projects that can be completed by December 31 with allowances for the fact that your team will be taking some time to enjoy the holidays with their families too.
Plan for success next year with 3 simple words
This is also the perfect time of year to sit down with a piece of paper, a pencil and your thoughts. For several years now, I’ve been choosing three words to define my personal plan for success in the coming year. Here are some examples of how I have done that in the past:
I start the process by looking back at what the previous year’s plans had been and how I feel they turned out. It’s interesting because as I look at the 2013 plan, which I haven’t revisited in months, I realize these three words became part of my subconscious decision making. The various business pursuits I’m involved in are all now selling through education of current clients and potential customers.
It’s because the method works that you need to do it once a year. What was good for this year could be plain awful if you just continue blindly on the same path into next year. I’m fairly sure I know what my three words are for next year, but I’ll save that for a January blog post. In the meantime, why not take a crack at this method and share your three words with the world at the beginning of 2014?