Does it feel harder to continue your momentum towards the end of the year? You aren’t alone.
It usually starts as we roll into November.
Suddenly it seems like a change comes over people:
- Otherwise organized people suddenly become super flaky: emails and text and phone calls aren’t returned, appointments are rescheduled, and deadlines are missed.
- You hear a lot of “It’s the holidays, we’re so busy!” as a reason why people put off their coaching calls, don’t have time to get together, or complete projects.
- Potential new clients or strategic partners say the timing isn’t right and want to start up or circle back in early January.
Since it seems like everyone is all about excuses, I call this period “excuse time.”
In fact, these excuse filled periods happen twice a year: first, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then from about the second week in November through the first week of January.
While it’s easy to become frustrated when you start hearing a lot of excuses (or simply don’t hear back at all), it helps to remember that this phenomenon isn’t limited to any one individual. Even if YOUR clients are committed to moving forward, it’s possible that everyone else around them is feeling the urge to push things off until later. Whether we like it or not, excuse time effects all of us in some way, shape, or form.
There’s actually only so much you can do completely on your own in business – both your client’s as well as your own — so delays created by others inability to take action can have a snow ball effect on your own forward progress. You can try to push through this, but you’ll likely only succeed in creating a lot of frustration. Instead, lean into this time of year and set expectations with all of this in mind.
One great way to take advantage of ”excuse time” is to schedule time off for yourself.
As a coach, we often feel that we need to be available to our clients continuously, but that can quickly lead to burn out. The best model is to take time off when our clients are typically taking time off. And let’s face it, our clients are perfectly capable of managing on their own during our downtime if we communicate ahead of time with them. It may even work to their advantage, as well as your own.
I’ve worked with one client off and on for 6 years who models this well. She writes into her coaching agreements that she is unavailable for the months of August and December. As a result, her one-year agreements are actually 10 month agreements within that one year. She makes it work because she doesn’t just leave the clients in the lurch for those two months, but structures the work she does with them so they have the tools they need to continue making forward progress on their own. As a result, she comes back from her break feeling refreshed to clients who are excited to share with her all that they accomplished since their last session.
The quiet of “excuse time” is a great opportunity to work on the more creative projects in your business.
If you’d rather work than take a lot of time off, you can also use “excuse time” to work ON your business so you are ready for the renewed energy that the New Year often brings.
As an added bonus, most of these projects you can work on independently:
- Outline or write that book you’ve been wanting to write.
- Build new tools to use with your clients.
- Write or edit your website copy.
- Create a launch plan for next year or next quarter.
- Brainstorm topics for your newsletter and craft a publishing calendar.
- Write blog posts.
- Produce videos to share with clients or on your blog.
- Create courses for prospects or clients.
- Write a strategic plan for the next year.
This week, set aside an hour to think about how you want to use the upcoming “excuse time” to your benefit. Do you want to take some time off? Work on a project? Whatever appeals most to you, make sure it allows you to go with the flow during slower pace of excuse time.
This year, my husband will be on sabbatical during the year end “excuse time” (good planning, Eric!) so I’ll be using this time to go on some adventures with Eric and Connor and visit my family on the East Coast. I also take off at least three weeks in the summer when Connor is out of school and we can spend time at our family’s house in Maine. This year, most of my clients wanted to take a month off sometime during the summer, so I always build that into my schedule and use the extra time to my advantage. I offer lifeline calls in case my clients need support while I’m out but with so much advance planning, they are rarely needed.
How are you going to spend your “excuse time” this year? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
Tara Butler Floch