Five ways to make the most of December (to get ready for January)


I can’t believe it’s already December, and 2009 is almost gone.  That means it won’t be long before the holidays are over, and we’re staring at a brand new month, quarter and year.  Before January hits you unprepared, spend time in December both catching up and getting ready.  Here are five specific things to get you started.


Read:  That backlog of blog posts sitting in your RSS Reader?  The stack of magazines on your desk?  Dig into them.  You don’t need to read every single article, but take time this month to catch up a bit on the reading you’ve wanted to do.  I guarantee you’ll find inspiration many times over.

Learn:  What skill have you wanted to learn?  What new sales or marketing strategy have you wanted to get smarter about before testing for your organization?  There’s something you’ve been putting off, because you simply don’t have time.  What if you devoted the next 30 days to reading, practicing and testing that skill?  How could that make you smarter and more successful in 2010? 

Brainstorm:  Pick a handful of important problems or challenges.  They can be things facing you personally or professionally, individually or with a group.  Feel free to brainstorm on your own, but also pull friends, family or colleagues (whichever group is most appropriate) into a room with a white board to help.  Even if you just take 30 minutes (our team takes as little as 10 minutes depending on the topic), with a bit of mental isolation and focus, you’ll come up with something highly useful.

Secret Shop:  Which competitors – big or small – are creeping up on you?  Which ahead of you might be within reach?  How can you dig deeper, directly, into how they do business to learn what they’re doing well, where they’re weak, and what you can do differently to accelerate past (or further away from) them in the coming months?

Plan:  You’ve probably done some of this already for 2010, at least for your organization overall and/or for your department.  But have you done it for yourself?  For your career, or other professional and personal goals?  What focus areas and milestones will be important to you in 2010, and what do you need to do starting in January to achieve them?  Then, what do you need to do in December to hit the ground running?