Have you noticed how people seem even more “crazy busy” this December than last? Of course, the 12th month of the business calendar is always truly insane - loose ends to tie up - business to close - performance reviews, planning meetings, projects that absolutely positive have to be completed - all urgent and massively stressful because we are also juggling oh-so-jolly holiday parties, crisis holiday shopping, and drive-by get-togethers with family and friends.

This year seems particularly nutty. Once the economy showed signs of life in the fourth quarter, everybody was making hay while the sun shines (as my Midwest grandparents used to say). It reminds me of college when I tried in vain to cram four months worth of half-hearted classroom learning into my brain during 4 hours of studying for a final.

Having acknowledged the insanity I’m now going to suggest something crazy- adding one more thing to your end-of-year to-do list.

ITEM: Take time to clean out your 2009 “business regrets closet.”

Why?

It’s been a tough year and at the end of this long road

You may still be holding on to regrets that will hold you back in 2010

Thoughts such as, what I could have done, should have done, didn’t do, wanted to do: useless

2009 is over. We did our best. We survived. We are stronger.
 
Time to get ready for what could be the best year of your life.

Closet purging for me is a hobby. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I love to clean out my closet. My husband would it’s a virtue that long ago crossed the line to obsession. Blame it on my close friendship with the world’s best wardrobe consultant, Mary Lou Andre.

Mary Lou started helping me with my wardrobe back in the television news days. She employed the most amazing system for cleaning closets you’ve ever seen. You try everything on and play “tough love” by discarding anything, and I mean anything and everything that you don’t love, doesn’t fit, doesn’t suit your current lifestyle, or doesn’t owe you anything. It’s work; physically exhausting. However, when you’re finished you have all this wonderful open-space.
 
And then, when you’re finished, you don’t rush out and fill it up again. You leaave it open for awhile. When you do go shopping, you fill the closet strategically. You take a list. You purchase with a plan.
 
This proven process is a perfect metaphor for the approach to jettisoning your business regrets. Take inventory of the things intended to do but didn’t, and ask yourself these questions.

Does it still fit with my goals?
Does it suit my lifestyle?
Do I still really want to do it?
Will it matter to my professional life?
If there were “white space” could I fill it with something better?
Will I truly regret not doing it?
If I don’t do it what would be the consequences?

Answer the questions, be honest, and take some of that stuff out of your psychic closet.

Let me give you an example of how I intend to put this to work in my business this year.

In December every year just like most people we scheduled performance reviews. It was fascinating to read what members of my team wrote this year. It was like peaking in the closet and noticing suits or shirts or dresses they hadn’t worn in a year. Each member of the team highlighted goals that they had set out to do at the beginning of 2009 that hadn’t been done. It struck me that there were good reasons. While they had made notes in the margin such as ”still need to…” or “get going on this finally,” my thought was, “why?”

Don’t get me wrong - we should all hold ourselves accountable and if a goal is important, get it done. But sometimes there is a good reason we haven’t taken action. While we may not be consciously making the decision, our subconscious realizes it is no longer a fit. The best thing we can do is take it out of the closet, give it away and leave space open for the things that we really aspire to do and hope to achieve.

 What about you?

 Do you have items on the to list that are not central to who you are and what you intend to become?

Take an honest inventory, try them on, play tough love, and put them into the discard pile.

If you really mustkeep it put it into storage - the cedar closet of your mind - at the bottom of the list under the category ”Someday Maybe.”

There is only so much time.

Imagine how you will feel when you clean out our business regrets closet and make room for those beautiful new projects, personal and professional, that suit your lifestyle, your goals and your personality. Picture coming back to work in January with white space on your calendar and space in your head for the perfect “suit.” What would you be able to do if you actually have the energy and opportunity to create something even better than you imagined before?

If you have suggestions for our readers about how to clean out the regrets closet, hit leave a reply and fire away. And happy cleaning.




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