Book a call

Choosing Grace.

Nov 16, 2023

The last year in which I was not available for my employer on December 31st by phone, email, or text was 2002. For the last 20 years, my calendar year’s worth of work came down to the very last hours and minutes of the very last day. 

It included waiting for signed documents with bated breath, dreading each minute the clock ticked closer to 5pm without seeing the email in my inbox. The consistent checking of the office voicemail. Preparing the final report that I either sent with eager glee, or glum disappointment. 

Welcome to the heart of fourth quarter.

“What does the pipeline look like? Where are we going to end the year? What’s the plan to increase year-over-year Q4 results? You know we really only have 10 weeks in this quarter…what’s the year-end forecast?”

If you’ve ever worked in fundraising or sales, you’ve heard those questions. Maybe you’ve been the one asking those questions. Inevitably they increase in urgency and frequency around this time of year. All-hands-on-deck style meetings abound, while hurried demands for numbers flow through inboxes. The increased stress is palpable. 

For many organizations and companies, the final three months of the calendar define the previous nine. It can be an all-or-nothing game full of fight and vigor, to either recover early losses or exceed expectations for gains. It can represent a unique time to maximize opportunities, or watch best laid plans wither away. It can mean budget cuts and job losses, or result in new funding for hiring and programs.

In short, the stakes are high. And emotions rise and fall like they’re riding the rails of a rollercoaster. 

If that weren’t enough, this is all occurring during a season in which we’re expected to embrace and publicly display a joyful, giving spirit, filled with gratitude, fellowship and love. And we may actually feel all of these things. We might genuinely want to walk through this short, glorious time of year practicing our faith, or connecting with loved ones, reflecting on the life we’ve been privileged to live.

Yet in reality, this season can be a source of stress, grief, anxiety, and overwhelm for many. Increased time commitments, social obligations, and financial burdens are common in our society which has placed a greater value on consumerism and extravagance as we see the holiday displays and “sales” popping up earlier and earlier. Shipping deadlines, travel nightmares, relationship pressures combine with a high-stakes 24/7 work culture, flooding all of our available emotional space, creating perfect conditions for us to break.

Can’t we all just get a little bit of grace?

This is where wellbeing and career intersect. And this year, it’s time for a mindset shift.

This week I talked with an organization whose mission truly represents life or death. The leaders were feeling all of the same feelings and pressures I’ve described. They experienced an unexpected financial shortfall, and are navigating how to maximize their opportunities in the next six weeks. With a determined spirit, they believe they can and will succeed.

Why? Because lives depend on it.

Not because they want a board room to be impressed with their balance sheet. Not because they want to boast for a fleeting moment about outperforming last year’s results. Not because they want the executive leader to get a bonus.

Because lives depend on their success.

This shared purpose is shaping their year-end strategies. It’s infused into every tactic they’re executing. It’s permeating the hearts and minds of their stakeholders.

That’s not to say they aren’t asking the same questions – how we will get from A to B? Do we have the capacity to achieve X and Y to get to Z? Is there enough time for C to come to fruition?

The difference is that they’re filling the seats on their bus. They’re engaging volunteers in the shared effort. They’re seeking outside perspective and support. They’re capitalizing on collective momentum rather than making singular staff people carry the burden of many. They’ve set a realistic target, controlling for the external factors that come along with this annual season.

And maybe the most important thing they’re doing this year is saying no. No to extraneous events. No to voluminous tasks. No to meetings that are not aligned with the shared purpose. No to going through motions just because.

They’re saying yes to filling the hours they have with the most important priority while their team is at work, leaving space for staff members to manage the personal year-end demands they face outside of the office.

While many of us aren’t responsible for life or death decisions or programs, we too can shift our mindset even when the demands are great and the stakes are high. In some cases, it starts with setting a boundary to protect even just one hour of your time each day. In other cases, it might begin by making a different choice or having a different response than your usual when faced with a demand. Maybe it starts with a simple affirmation each morning.

In this fourth quarter, I’m rewriting what the next 20 years of this season will look like for me.  I’m saying no to chaos, and yes to harmony. No to stress, and yes to peace. No to obligatory dread, and yes to intentional joy. No to putting the expectations of others ahead of those I have for myself, and yes to genuine gratitude.

Let’s choose grace for ourselves and for each other.

Michael Macrae can help you easily navigate the steps to simplicity.

Start here with a free consultation.

Schedule a free call

StayĀ Connected

Get resources, motivation, and actionable insight for you and your team delivered to your inbox weekly withĀ Michael Macrae'sĀ Mentor Minute:
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.