6 Tips for a Peaceful Year End…and Beyond

The final months of the year are often fraught with apprehension and stress. Then, before you know it, it’s a clean slate and we’re kicking off another year with new, more ambitious goals. We’re off to the races again! Is it any wonder that even the most centered leaders get a little out of sorts at times? 

I’m guessing that most of us have said something to someone that was not received as intended. In turn, it’s likely that we’ve also been on the other end of a comment that we interpreted as unkind or even hostile. Setting the right tone and getting a message across clearly is difficult when the clock is ticking against ambitious deadlines.  And there it is … why it can be difficult to “get along” in the workplace (or, neighborhood, family, community, nation, world, and otherwise).

So, in this “Season of Giving,” I offer the following six tips for a more peaceful approach to the end of the year … and beyond.

1. Assume positive intent (AKA “suspend judgment”) – Before reacting to a comment, email or text that rubs you the wrong way, take a pause. During that time, ask yourself.

  • “What triggered such a strong response? “ 
  • “Was that person intentionally operating with malice?” 
  • “What might have been an alternative intent behind the message?” 

Often, by stepping back, we gain perspective and remember that everyone is doing the best they can. Once you’ve paused and reassessed, you’re better equipped to respond with your best intent.

2. Pace yourself – Several years ago, I recognized that when I didn’t leave enough time to get out the door to go to a meeting, I would inevitably forget something. Sometimes, in my rush to leave, carrying too many things to the car, I’d hurt myself by tripping over the threshold or hitting my arm against the door jam. When I started to allow an additional 10 minutes to pack up and walk carefully to the car, the difference in my disposition was dramatic. (And I had fewer bruises, too.)

3. BreatheMany of us hold our breath when feeling stress. Taking a full breath periodically can be grounding and helps us moderate our pace.  It’s also an opportunity to savor the present and give homage to the moments that we may otherwise take for granted throughout the day

4. Behave kindly – Consciously choose your words and tone when communicating with others. Reread that email before sending. I’m not talking about sugar-coating or being disingenuous. But, in our hurry to check boxes, we sometimes forget there is a well-intentioned human at the other end. We don’t know what the receiver has on their plate or what they’re going through – loss of job, health issues, or worse, a personal tragedy. Ask yourself, “Is this something I would say to a loving family member or best friend?” Yes, this approach takes more time, but usually not as much time (or angst) as it would to recover from unintended consequences.

5. Reach out The end of the year often leaves little time for networking and superfluous check-ins that fall outside our “to do” lists.  Reaching out to others, however, can make a huge difference in a person’s day (as well as your own). If finding time to schedule an official touch base feels insurmountable, send a quick message to let the person know you’re thinking of them, and schedule another time to catch-up later.

6. Take care of yourself – One of the most undervalued leadership skills is keeping your physical and mental health front and center. This is especially difficult if you work in an environment in which work-life balance is merely a suggestion. If you’re not taking time to recharge your batteries, you will have little energy to exercise the tips above, much less serve as a role model for your team members.

Here’s to a strong and mindful finish to the year and the year ahead – during which the “how” is just as important as the “what” you accomplished.

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