“Write like you are running out of time.” Alexander Hamilton (American statesman, military commander, defender of the U.S. Constitution, lawyer, musical performer!)
Look Out Above! readers will attest that the book’s co-authors rarely come across a sports metaphor or analogy that they dislike, and it is only through ruthless editing that more “sports talk” didn’t make it into the book itself. We couldn’t help ourselves this week, with football about to start and hockey training camps about to open. So here goes: as you know, the third period of a hockey game is crucial. The game is drawing to a close and, especially if tightly contested, each possession matters as the outcome is in doubt. The same is true in business. With Labor Day fast approaching in the United States, that means the year is 2/3rds finished, with 1/3 of the year to go. Business-wise, we are now in the “third period” of 2021. When you factor in lost time in November and December due to major holidays and consider that many in the business world take off the week between Christmas and New Year, then you can see that time to get things done is running out.
Now is the time, if you haven’t been doing so periodically throughout the year, to review the goals you set – or that were set for you – at the beginning of the year. How are you progressing on yours? Often bonuses are paid on a “bright line” basis depending on whether the goal was achieved during the calendar year – and so no bonus award if not completed by year-end (in our experience requests for payment anyway are met with deaf ears and may be career-limiting). Further, some goals that involve transactions have further considerations – whether tax, legal, contractual, or other – that may result in the deal’s collapse if not closed by the year-end. And for those of you in public companies where year-over-year performance is publicly reported, finishing strong and locking in a successful year may be particularly important.
Mistakes made earlier in the year (just like in a game) can often be overcome because there is still time left on the clock to achieve desired goals. A deal falls out in Q1? No problem! There are still nine months to find another and crush it. Slow sales in Q2? You’re still in good shape, hopefully, as you have half the year left to get those numbers up and finish strong. But now . . . now, not so much. The closer we get to the end of the year, the fewer “do-overs” we get. The time for cruising (not that you were ever cruising!) is passed. The last three months of the year are a critical time for not only hitting your year-end goals but for ensuring that you head into the next year (and its first-quarter) on the front foot.
So where do you stand on achieving your goals? If you’re like most people, you have a lot of work left to do. Likely more than 1/3 of that work! Plus, with Covid-19 is still hanging around, the path to achieving the goals may be different than you first envisioned. But the good news? You’ve still got an entire third of the year remaining to finish up strong and set the table for a strong 2022. Review your year so far – what went wrong, what went right, and what is still left to do – and push hard, as the end of the year will be here before you know it. And if you thought the Labor Day panic was real, just wait until the holidays roll around!