The five-step plan to staying sane in December

Last night I counted only 14 working days left for 2015. Woo hoo! The finish line is near. Europe (the band) is playing their one hit wonder in the background. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it's definitely not a train.

For me, as I'm sure for you too, 2015 has been a massive year filled with triumphs, challenges, and achievements - all rolled up into a unit of time called a working year.

Here is my year in summary:

  • Sold my business to KPMG and am now a partner in a global consulting firm = highlight
  • Started writing my new book (which all authors know is a mixture of excitement blended with the reality of the task at hand) = challenging but rewarding
  • Recruited a number of positive new team members, as well as joining a much larger organisation = stressful, time consuming, yet energising
  • Lost 10.5cm from my waist and decreased body fat by 10 per cent (after going a bit crazy partying, dating and fuelling my sugar addiction when last year I found myself single for the first time in over a decade). I now feel fitter and more energetic than I have for years = required a lot of discipline and effort, but very rewarding
  • Continuing life as a single father (with my gorgeous daughter and son with me almost 50 per cent of the time) and counterbalancing all of the above plus corporate travel, maintaining a social life and having some fun =  juggling act, but without doubt the best part of my life by a long way

OK, it's your turn now. Before we move on to how to get you across the finish line in one piece, I'd like you take the time to pause, reflect and document the five biggest achievements/challenges for 2015. To guide your responses ask yourself: what you found difficult, and what you achieved at work, in your personal life, financially, health and fitness?

The power of reflection

Taking time out to reflect on your goals is just as important as writing them in the first place. This is because you give yourself space to think about what went well, and what you might have done differently.

Research has shown that self-awareness and reflection is critical for reaching your goals. More often than not we learn more from our mistakes than our victories. Psychological literature suggests that the gap between where we are and where we'd like to be spurs motivation and self-improvement. So, in looking back you also give yourself the opportunity to learn and move forward.

From a personal point of view, writing this blog has helped me take stock of probably the biggest year of my corporate life. It's helped me understand why I feel energised and fatigued all at the same time. As I spend a few more working years on this planet, I'm also starting to get comfortable with the fact that it IS fine to acknowledge that life isn't always plain sailing. In fact, more often than not, it is the hard times that gives us scar tissue and force us to change, grow and adapt.

Keeping you upright until the end

Here are five strategies to get you through the next three weeks to Christmas, and over the finish line. Some of these I have been using all year to help me stay energised, healthy and focused, while others are specific to the festive time of the year.


1. Weekly plan

I know it's a sporting cliché that is at high risk of ending end up in Peter Fitzsimons' The Fitz Files, but gather around , bring it in closer, shoulders together, arm in arm, and let's channel our sporting friends. "At this time of the year, as we get towards the pointy end of the season, the boys (and girls) are just keeping focused on each game, taking it a week at a time". Break down each week and literally work on getting through each day. You're almost there.

2. Christmas fun

It's called the festive season for a reason. If you've worked your backside off all year long, it's important to celebrate and let your hair down. Get excited about work Christmas parties, within reason. I'm really looking forward to catching up with my ST6 (Seal Team 6) mates. Every year on the last Friday before Christmas we have our decadent Christmas lunch. The agenda is the same each year: say hello to each other, bag each other, consume food and fluids, proceed to talk about how 'the older we get the better we were', then add more genial abuse.

3. Downward dog

This year yoga has been my best friend and has helped me get on top of a number of injuries and niggles that tend to creep in around the late 30s/early 40s. If you find that every time you cross your legs your jaw snaps open, it's time to add some bendy stuff to your fitness routine. But more importantly, yoga has helped my very busy and sometimes crazy mind to stay calm, centred and relatively clear. Hit the mat once a week to help you in the end-of-year countdown.

4. Big picture perspective

Keep things in context. Yes, it's been a big year. Yes, you have worked hard and you feel fatigued. No, you are not always going to feel like this – just keep it together, you're almost there. Think of all of the great things ahead – Christmas and holiday period with family and friends, swimming in the ocean over summer, watching the Boxing Day cricket Test, and freshening up ready for an exciting 2016

5. Avoid energy vampires

Stay clear of the people who drag their feet through the office and complain about everything – from the biscuit choice ('this place really went downhill quickly when management removed the Iced Vo Vos), to the fact the office is closing over the holiday period to give everyone a well-earned break, through to their workload (that is rapidly building up because rather than working, they spend so much time trying to pinpoint what is wrong). Surround yourself with energetic people who are invigorated to get stuff done, who smile while they're at it and make you feel energised.

What do you do to keep it together and get over the finishing line? Let us know in the comments below?