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The upcoming holiday season is a good time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and family – but is it a good time to try and get things accomplished at work?

People tend to fall into a conventional seasonal rhythm. If the kids are heading back to school, it’s time to buckle down. But as soon as we can buy eggnog at the grocery store, it’s time to ease off again. As leaders, should we go with the flow, try to push our people through lax seasons, or should we try to set our own rhythm?

Your Team’s Seasonal Rhythm

When we get new phones or computers, they are preprogrammed to “spring ahead” or “fall back.” In many ways, we are preprogrammed as well. Here’s what a typical year looks like:

We have from January to May for new plans, new ideas, and new initiatives. We’re “on;” we’re getting things done.

Then June comes. The kids are out of school; vacation season starts; the energy from the New Year changes. We may have air-conditioning inside, but we still know it’s summer out there. Then Labor Day rolls around. This means going back to school for the kids and going harder at work for us. Our window of opportunity this time is September to the holiday season. We’re on again – for a while.

How Hard-Wired Are You?

Leaders are all aware of these seasons; we know we can capitalize on certain moments to build on the seasonal momentum, much as we individuals will use those moments to set goals for ourselves. Know that “back to school” and January 1st present opportunities to push, and drive strategic goals forward.

But my interest is whether you, as an individual, are relying on these seasons, or making your own? Is there truly a particular time of the year for a leader to be planning, or should it be an ongoing process? Is there a particular month when we should focus on reporting, risk management, or deliverables? Or should we be doing it all year?

Apply the 3-Month Rule

I tell my members to step back from the default settings and focus on the long-term. That’s all I care about. Look at the bigger picture, work towards your goals, and every three months, stop for a break to see if you’re getting there. Picture yourself hacking through a jungle with brush all around you, moving ahead, making progress. But, are you? Occasionally, it makes sense to climb a tree and look over the jungle to be sure you are still headed in the right direction. Hack, but hack in the right direction! Those breaks could be in January, April, July, September, whenever. It is based on what works for you, rather than on the artificial constraints of the calendar. Except for taxes. Turns out, there is a time of year for that.

Do you want to manage your business based on the calendar that has been handed to you? Or do you want to manage your business based on your own seasons? You can react to accepted “norms,” or move forward at your own, steady pace.