For the End of the Year and Beyond
There are lessons that can be taken from the Advent season to help us in our daily and workplace lives. This week, as many are wrapping up their workplace responsibilities for the year, it’s a great time to consider the topic of preparation. Here are five ways we can prepare.
Prepare to wrap things up.
Whether it’s the holiday baking that you want to carefully wrap in festive plates and share with friends and neighbors, or the special gifts that you want to lovingly wrap in holiday wrapping to give to someone dear, there’s planning and preparation that comes with that. Planning recipes or gift shopping, purchasing ingredients or supplies, ordering items in time for them to ship before the holidays, planning out the delivery of the gifts – there’s planning, scheduling, sequencing of activities that happens.
And so it is with wrapping up for the year. Did you have key goals or deliverables you wanted to accomplish this year? Take inventory on what you need to do to wrap them up well, and give yourself time to do that. Do you know how you’ll want to spend next year? Carve off time on your schedule to make a plan for next year so you start the new year strong.
Prepare for your very next meeting.
Faithful preparation is required as you consider your very next interaction with each of the people in your life. Getting ready to meet with an existing customer? Refresh yourself on the things that are important to them as well as on the business they’ve done with you this year and in years past so you can offer up a word of thanks.
About to meet a prospective customer 1:1 for the first time? Remind yourself of the goals of the meeting, make sure your product knowledge is top of mind, and if it’s a business-to-business customer, make sure you’re familiar with the company, their brand, and key topics of their industry.
About to encounter a friend or family member? Jog your memory about the things you talked about last time, and remind yourself to listen more than you talk; ask questions that steer the conversation towards them, and make a plan to show them they matter.
Expecting to encounter someone that stresses you out or with whom you’ve had challenges in the past? Prepare yourself mentally by finding your inner calm, choosing self-management, and thinking about the value they bring to the table.
Prepare for what could go wrong.
The fact of the matter is that unexpected things can sideswipe us at any time, and we can feel pretty ill-prepared for some of the things that seem to come out of the blue. But there is preparation we can do to prepare for those big crises. For example, if you’re leading or working on a project or initiative at work, be sure you’ve taken time to think through the biggest risk areas and your project team’s responses.
If you’re leading a department or organization, make sure to think through contingency plans, disaster recovery plans, and business continuity plans in case of dire emergency like fire, security breach, in-person restrictions, etc. Those companies in 2020 that had plans for what they’d do if everyone had to suddenly work from home were several steps ahead of those who hadn’t given it any thought.
Within your household or immediate circle, maybe plan ahead for how you’ll manage if someone gets sick, is unable to work, or is unable to contribute to the household in the usual way. Then, when crisis does strike, you can focus on caring for those around you rather than figuring out what to do next.
Prepare for the new year.
For years, the “new year” has been depicted in cartoons as a baby in a diaper. And certainly, thinking of a baby at Christmas time is not an unfamiliar idea, as Christ-followers all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. So perhaps we can take lessons from preparing for a baby to apply those to the new year.
Just as a parent would prepare for the arrival of a new baby, perhaps by taking care of their physical self, by mentally preparing for the changes ahead, and by anticipating the day-to-day routine in a new way, we can take a cue from this and apply it to the new year. We can prepare ourselves physically for a well and healthy new year; we can mentally prepare for what the new year holds; and we can anticipate our day-to-day schedule.
While 2021 will begin on January 1st, that doesn’t mean that Friday the first of January will be magically different than Thursday, December 31st. Mentally, we may need to prepare for months of 2021 that are similar to some of the months of 2020, with mask-wearing, social-distancing, as well as emotional and economic hardship. Those extra pounds we picked up during the pandemic won’t magically disappear overnight, so if we’re looking for a healthier 2021, we’ll need to make a plan to do so.
Just as a family might prepare space and clothes and specific details around the birth, we can prepare with those closest to us for how we will embrace this new year. Many families and work groups spent several months of 2020 in a “wait and see” kind of mode, but we know there’s value in planning and preparing – perhaps as a work team or as a household, you’ll want to create a “plan A” and a “plan B” that allow you the hope of planning and the flexibility of adjusting to the reality of the circumstances.
For sure, make concrete plans about how you will stay connected – virtually or in person – as a small group; leveraging the best of the technology and creative and safe in-person options that this year has offered.
Just as a community might prepare for a baby with baby showers, or extended family members making arrangements to help with food or cleaning or child care, and as workplace communities prepare for how they will cover the work when a team member is out on maternity or paternity leave, we as communities can plan for how we’ll embrace the new year together.
Perhaps we can make specific plans as a neighborhood or faith community to celebrate holidays or milestones, or to keep in touch on a regular basis. Perhaps as citizens we can make concrete plans for how we will share with others or help others through periods of transition. Taking some time to think about others around us and how we can help them will help us co-create stronger communities in this year ahead.
How about you? How will you demonstrate faithful preparation as we close out 2020?