CALLING A TIMEOUT TO FINISH STRONG AND BEGIN STRONG

We frequently hear comments around this time each year about how quickly the year went by.   “Where in the world did the year go?”   “I can’t believe the year went by this quickly!”   “Where did time go?”   The fact of the matter is that life moves along at a breakneck pace and seems to pick up speed all the time.   Most of us will certainly find this to be the case as we get older.    However, now may be a good time to call a strategic “timeout” to assess our success this year.   In other words, how do we think we have performed in all facets of our life throughout the year?   This assessment should include all areas that are of major importance to us personally and professionally.  Our discussion today will focus on the importance of taking a strategic timeout to do two things which can lead to success.

First, let’s talk about the importance of calling a timeout.  In today’s society, timeouts are most frequently associated with disciplining children.  When I was growing up, there was no timeout option when I misbehaved.  I wish there had been, but that was not the case back then.   Discipline with children was handled much differently, and I suppose it worked just fine.   The other definition of the modern timeout is the one associated with sporting events.  This is the definition we want to focus on today.   Having the option to call a timeout (temporarily stopping the game) in sporting events such as basketball, football, etc. is a critical tool that can be used to compete well and win.  Coaches and players rely on timeouts to regroup, assess game strategy, talk about what is not going well, talk about what is going well, get input from the players, receive encouragement, and physically rest before going back on the field or court to resume play.   Football also uses strategic timeouts to “ice the kicker.”  Sporting events can be won or lost simply by how timeouts are used.   That is why timeouts in football, for example, are used very carefully and at important moments of the game.   Timeouts in sporting events should never be wasted because they are limited.   There are only so many timeouts granted by the rules of the game.

This same scenario can be applied to our own lives.  As we approach the end of a year around November or December, it helps to stop, call a timeout with our busy schedules, and take this as an opportunity to see how we are doing for the year.   In other words, is there a strategic change in our actions or behavior that can help us finish 2017 strong?   If we look back and reflect for a moment on last December and January, we hopefully set personal and professional goals for ourselves.  Now is a great time to reflect on how we are doing.  Are we in a position to finish 2017 strong?  By the way, this strategic practice is important for companies as well as individuals.

Secondly, taking a timeout and reflecting on how we are doing for the year and whether we will finish the year strong, is a great way to get a head start on 2018.    Notice, I didn’t say how we have done for the year; the year is still underway.   Even though we are closing in on December 31, we still have time to “get our house in order” and at least finish as strong as possible.   The great thing also is that we get to “roll over” our dreams and plans into the new year.   Maybe we have a personal or professional goal that has not progressed quite as well as we planned.   Life happens and things change over the course of time that can impact and influence how well we do with our goals.

The immediate challenge for each of us is to take the time to strategically reflect on and review the current year.  What is going well and what did not go well?  What action can be taken now to change the outcome of this year and finish strong?   What can we do now in the final weeks of this year to “tee it up” for success in the upcoming new year?  What is it that we may wish to do differently in the upcoming year?

I encourage each of us to complete this reflection as we get closer to the traditional time of setting goals for a new and exciting year.  At the very least, take the time now to reflect on what can be done to start a new year out with a head start.  This may be a great time to call a timeout.

Remember to always define time as a series of opportunities.  Unfortunately, we don’t have the luxury of wasting time, taking our time, or ignoring time.  Once time goes by, we can never get it back!

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