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Don’t wind down for Christmas, wind up for next year!


Don’t wind down for Christmas, wind up for next year!

I love Christmas.

I love everything about it: the extended family time, the chance to spend time with friends, the excitement of finally giving out the gifts I’ve studiously pondered so hard for months and I especially enjoy the “down time” with Mrs. A that allows us to look back on the year and take stock of everything that has happened the previous 12 months.

When I was a kid, my mother tells me, I used to get so excited about Christmas (and my birthday, apparently), that I’d make myself ill. Wow, I must’ve loved it even more back then! Impossible.

As I’ve gotten older, my excitement has shifted focus, though.

Over the last decade I’ve found myself more and more looking forward to, and getting very excited about, the chance to spend some time with myself.

In the gaps between family outings, joyous times with Mrs. A and eating way too many mince pies, I find myself quietly looking forward to being able to work on something that I haven’t perhaps had the chance to work on during the year.

I’m lucky, I work on a lot of things that really interest me throughout the year, but as many of us do, I approach the Christmas break with a real “ok, I’m going to do this” attitude and try my very best to carve out some time to just create something.

As a guy with a very busy, very ideas driven mind I often find myself being chastised by friends and family for this:

“You’re working? It’s Christmas!”

But here’s the thing, I’m not working. I’m enjoying myself.

When I was in my early 20s, I was a big Xbox gamer and, being a hard worker, I often found that I didn’t have much time to play during the week and often, even at weekends.

And so, during the Christmas break I’d dedicate myself to ploughing through the latest Gears of War or Halo outing – and I really, really loved it.

The funny thing is, now I see the creation of a new something over the Christmas period in the same light. It’s enjoyment, fulfilment and a chance to be accountable only to myself – no clients, no customers and no partners.

Now, long ago I came to the conclusion that I don’t really work for a living – yes I show up at the studio to do what I need to do – but actually, because I’ve created businesses that I love working in, my lifestyle is such that I’m never working, and yet I’m always working. I’m sure many entrepreneurs feel the same – it’s a by-product of having that desire to continually move forward which allows for this to happen.

I don’t tell you this as a means of demonstrating how “driven and motivated” I am – that’s rubbish. I’m sat here writing this with my feet up on a Sunday afternoon with old Bon Jovi videos on Vevo.

I’m no more motivated than you – I just like doing this.

Nor do I tell you this as a humble-brag. The point is not to tell you that I work over Christmas, because honestly: I don’t feel that I do.

No, the point of me telling you this is that I know that you feel the same way.

You look forward to the Christmas break because you can spend some time with yourself. You can focus on creating something that you want to create – without limitation and with the only driving force being your own desire.

Don’t wind down… wind up!

Christmas, sadly, is over in the blink of an eye and before we realise it, it’s the first week of January and the drive, motivation and desire that we captured during the holiday season is already waning; subsiding against the pressures of email inboxes, phone-calls and ‘real life’.

But right now, you have time.

You have time to make a plan; time to understand how this ‘real life’ is going to affect you come January 4th and thankfully, you have the time to provision for that; to give yourself the best chance of making next year the best year yet for you.

Whilst those around you wind down for Christmas, why not try quietly and studiously making a plan of action?

That desire and excitement you have about the opportunities the space you have over the Christmas period will afford you, well that right there is lightening in a bottle – why not capture it and use it to fuel those darker, less motivated times that inevitably follow January’s flurry of gym memberships and new ideas?

So many people use December as a way to roll down their activities, yet I challenge you to use December to roll up your sleeves and create your perfect plan for next year.

I challenge you to develop something that will give you the chance to enjoy the “you” time over Christmas; that will allow you to work on something that you find fun and fulfilling, and I challenge you to create yourself a roadmap through January which will provide you with the stepping stones you need to navigate January’s shot of ‘real life’.

I know that, just like me, you feel the excitement and the opportunity that having some time to yourself over the Christmas break brings – this year, channel it into something usable over the longer term.

Don’t let that motivation escape you – whilst your competitors wind down, spend a little time developing your action plan and I promise you that next year, you’ll look back on December as the catalyst for your best year ever.

That’s what I’m going to do, too. Let’s see how we get on…

And don’t forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel.

About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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