The start of the New Year is a period of reflection and goal-setting. We are able to take a step back from our day-to-day duties, enjoy a holiday breather and evaluate what went right or wrong in 2018 and what we want to do better in 2019.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about time — how we spend it, value it and manage it. The end of the year is the perfect opportunity to reflect on this. While the rest of the year we might be too entrenched in projects and deadlines to think clearly about how we are spending our time, the changing of the calendar allows us a moment to take inventory of what we prioritized in 2018 and what habits we built and followed through on.
Here are things I am thinking about in terms of how I spend my time in 2019. I hope they spark some ideas for you in the New Year.
Focus on process over outcome
This is a common maxim in both the athletic and entrepreneurial worlds. The idea is that if you focus all of your attention on the things you can control in your professional development or athletic training, you will eventually build a level of consistent and repeatable excellence that will result in success.
Focusing on a single outcome — which can be affected by many different variables — can sidetrack you from this long-term path. The idea is that a single athletic competition or business project can go right or wrong for a number of reasons. Focusing too much on the outcome — good or bad — can shift focus from the really important things.
Instead of concentrating on whether you won the race or nailed the project, think about how you performed in terms of training, nutrition and rest — or in the business world, the critical thinking, planning and execution that went into the project. If you get those things right over and over again, in time you will perform at your highest level.
Focusing on process over outcomes is a recipe for continual improvement, personal satisfaction and consistency. The outcomes in business will fluctuate over time given market conditions and business cycles. But over the long run, success will come as you focus on becoming a better entrepreneur or business professional, no matter the ups and downs.
Take time to think
In a world focused on productivity and deadlines, sometimes we don’t take the time to think deeply about emerging industry trends or the trajectory of our businesses. But that is exactly what we should be spending significant time doing.
We are entering an age where tasks can be completed efficiently by software systems and digital tools. The higher value we can offer clients, which cannot be delivered by a computer program, is thoughtful strategy, carefully considered counsel — and, in the rare case, visionary ideas. This requires a commitment to wall off time from meetings and tasks and think deeply and creatively about our own businesses and our clients’ needs.
Whether you are in professional services, manufacturing or product development, spending the time to think critically and creatively about your business is an investment that is sometimes hard to commit to, but is critically important for your long-term growth. It can result in the next quantum leap in your career or your company’s growth.
Value other’s time like your own
It’s cliché to say, but time truly is our most precious commodity. Understanding its value not only to personally but also to your partners and employees is foundational to long-term success. This doesn’t mean rushing through things at all costs to preserve time; sometimes it means slowing down and appreciating the moment. It means building a company culture where employees’ time both inside and outside of work is respected and valued. It means making work meaningful and professional relationships fulfilling.
As you think about how you want to use your time in more meaningful ways in 2019, think about how you can empower your employees and partners to do the same. That will ensure that not only you get the most fulfillment, accomplishment and success out of the next 12 months, but your entire business network does the same. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019.
John Solari is the managing partner of J.A. Solari & Partners. He has 25 years of accounting experience and is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Nevada Society of Certified Public Accountants.