For most people, the celebration of a new year is still a couple of months away. For me, it is happening now. That may seem pretty odd to you, but historically, it’s not as unusual as you might think. For most of our ancestors, this was the season when the harvest was counted and thanks were given—long before our Thanksgiving holiday was thought of. The dead were honored and everyone prepared for the slower pace of the dark winter months. That was the end of the year.
The new year was more of a process than a day. It began during cold, lean, often difficult days that were given over to indoor activities and introspection. Was there enough food and firewood to get through the winter? Was there plentiful game to hunt? This time of drawing within and laying plans for the coming farm season marked the actual beginning of the year.
You may question why I relate to the hunter-gatherer model for marking the passage of the year. And you certainly must wonder how it relates to high-tech graphic communications.
On a personal level, this is when I outline my goals and ambitions for the coming year. I look back at what I have accomplished, measure it against the goals I set this time last year, and make note of what worked, what didn’t, what requires more effort, and what is no longer worth pursuing. Around this time of year I go on a weekend retreat with my women’s group where this is the focus of our activities and exercises. We celebrate our accomplishments and let go of things that no longer serve our highest good.
On a business level, you could do the same thing. You don’t necessarily have to spend a long weekend in the woods—although you might enjoy it more if you do. But right now really is the best time to look at how far you have come since last January. Evaluate your harvest. Have you accomplished what you set out to do? There is still time to make adjustments to meet sales goals and consider changes that can improve your business.
After that, spend some time strategizing about where you want your company to be this time next year. Don’t wait until the calendar new year to do this. We plan our gardens before we plant. This is the planning time. If you use it wisely, January will find you miles ahead of the competition. You will be putting your plans into action while others are just beginning to consider what comes next. Maybe the business model of our hunter-gatherer forebears was ahead of its time after all.