Trying to set up a business is tough. But then, come to think of it, so is managing a team. And actually, when I look at it, so is running a sales territory. They’re all tough.
Actually, let me refine that.
It’s tough if you want to do any of those things well. It wouldn’t be tough at all to do those things badly and without care. But assuming that 90% of people want to succeed in their chosen pursuit, then chances are, those things are going to be tough. Short of customers walking up to you with a blank cheque, no one demanding your time, admin and reporting being done itself and zero phone calls or emails – you get the point. For one reason and another, every role can be tough.
And typically, the last couple of months of the year in particular can be a difficult stretch. Frantically running around in order to hit plan, beat plan or make the beginning of next year a solid start can lead to what I’d call sales fatigue – that feeling of being on a treadmill, running quickly, but making no discernible progress whilst feeling more and more tired.
The last quarter of the year is often the quarter in which plans are finalised for the forthcoming year, budgets approved and all of this without an annual leave day in sight. By the time Christmas comes you’re lucky to stave off any seasonal flu, whilst slumping into a turkey and wine fueled haze that ensures you arrive into January needing another holiday.
So what can you do?
The team at Go MAD Thinking love coming up with possibilities – a list of ideas free from evaluation or critique but that can lead to opportunities and a plan to make a difference.
And, if you haven’t already, take a look at James Altucher’s blog. He’s obsessed with the idea of ideas – of committing a certain amount of time daily to just coming up with ideas. Ideas that, individually may only have limited potential, but that perhaps, when combined, can lead to possibility and opportunity.
The reason both are such big advocates of the approach is that it creates options – choices that you can make – which expands our view to a one that is constructive and progressive.
So I thought I’d come up with 10 ideas for anyone suffering from or sensing the onset of fatigue in the last five weeks of the year. And the idea is that you can take these, add to them, combine them with your own and maybe, just maybe, come up with something which you can do which will make a difference to the final stretch of the year.
1. Know that it’s not just you
As obvious as it sounds, if you’re feeling a bit tired, you’re not the only one. It’s easy, however, to think that everyone else has boundless energy and pizazz. [I’m not sure that’s a word!] But, they don’t. Pretty much everyone is having the same challenge. And there’s solace in acknowledging that.
2. Have a rest, sleep more
A 2004 study by Stanford University found that those people who slept more, reported more vigor and less fatigue. And the easiest way to do this is to go to bed earlier. In the event you can’t get to bed earlier and are getting less than eight hours sleep, find periods of time during the day when you can rest. If you’re field based, this could be a 10 minute sleep (not whilst driving, or course!) and if you’re office based, this could be in the form of a walk or some fresh air.
3. Talk to your favourite customer
Sales is, to a large extent, about mindset. And one way to shift your mindset is to get a spark of positive reinforcement. No better place for this than from your favourite customer, the one you have the best relationship with and who makes your job worthwhile. Go and spend some time in their company, for no reason other than just to spend time with them and feel good.
4. Write a list of reasons why you enjoy what you do
Again, this is to do with mindset. But if it gives you a positive boost then its worth it. Spend the next 5 minutes writing down as many reasons as possible under the heading ‘reasons I enjoy what I do’, then read them out aloud.
‘Exercise has consistently been linked to improved vigor and overall quality of life,’ says Kerry J. Stewart, Professor of Medicine and Director of Clinical and Research Exercise Physiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Not the easiest thing to do in the winter months, especially if you don’t have access to a gym, but essential nonetheless. (There are no streetlights where I live and so running along the roads has the potential to be precarious and definitely a reason why I struggle to do this in winter. To combat this though, I’ve just bought a flashing running vest and head torch. I look like a Christmas tree, but at least there’s no excuse not to get out!)
6. Read a novel
I love reading non-fiction and business books but I can’t read one without making notes and thinking about its application day-to-day. That doesn’t necessarily relieve fatigue! So tonight, I’m going to read Dan Brown’s Inferno It’s been sitting waiting for me to open for months, but tonight I’ll start. A break from reality and suspension of disbelief.
7. Put protected time in your diary
A previous boss of mine was always drilling us to do this – book some time in your diary for no one else other than you. No emails, no phone calls, no meetings, do distractions. Time for you to do whatever you want. No caveats. And at least half a day per week.
8. Book a holiday
Either some winter sun or next year’s summer sun, nothing gives a boost quite like knowing that there’s something in the diary. The reason sunshine is so important to us is that its our source of Vitamin D and, during winter months, we don’t get that Vitamin D from winter daylight. It’s that lack of Vitamin D which can make us feel tired.
9. Take Vitamin D
In the absence of sunshine, good sources of Vitamin D are oily fish, (salmon, mackerel and sardines), eggs and meat. Vitamin D is also added to all margarine, and to some breakfast cereals, soya products, dairy products and low-fat spreads.
10. Go to a networking event or conference
A great way to get a boost in energy is to be inspired by new opportunities and ideas. So take a day or half a day out of your schedule between now and the end of the year to go and network, at a meeting, conference or event. You never know who you might meet and what opportunities may present themselves. In fact, take a look at the Go MAD Thinking Open Programme – great for a few days of inspired thinking.