A gap is an opening in space, time, or between objects. It indicates there is a void. An empty space. It can be a pause, such as a gap year in the academic life of a student when they take time off from studies between secondary and post-secondary education. Normally the student travels. It’s time for discovery as well as renewal. It acts as a breather. In the life of a career a gap year is called sabbatical or hiatus from work duties. Also, in the life of a career, a gap year is between working and retirement to discover what next. It can be a time to try new things on or make a plan. Many people take time to travel.
So what the heck is a gap month? It is a space in time in the calendar year when there is an empty month. October is my gap month. And it can be your gap month. It is an ideal month for setting up a plan for what can become an amazing upcoming year. You have doubts? Keep reading.
Is It True That October is a Gap month?
Don’t take my word for it. Check your own schedule this year. I know. I know. This year is NOT a typical year and next year may or may not be typical. Either way having a plan can help you feel better today and hopefully tomorrow. See below Feel Better Now. One thing for sure. We will transcend this year and go beyond today to live fulfilling and meaning lives focused on what is important to each one of us defined by our own values. This month, October, as a gap month, is somewhat empty of scheduled busyness that is present most of the other months. Although I am sure there are a few of you who can name another empty month. However, October offers an ideal time to take advantage of being able to look back and forward at the same time.
October is not yet filled with the hectic schedule of the holidays which are then followed by the frantic kick-off of the new year. October is past summer vacation schedules beyond back to school challenges. October is far enough into the year you can look back over the past 10 months, take stock of where you are today, and make a plan for an amazing upcoming year. I ask you, “How are you going to navigate the new year?” The question evokes anxiety in many. Do you have a crystal ball? Uncertainty abounds. Each one of us still needs to move forward in the face of uncertainly, anxiety, and the many social issues in the headlines. I strongly believe values are the guiding principles for setting yourself up for an effective plan for next year.
Be Nifty About Your Gap Month
Using your values is a nifty way to use your gap month. Get clear on what matters to you and then chart your course. Take a look at the four major life domains we live in below. There is a delicate balancing between each domain to live life fully versus lopsided?
As a therapist and life coach I can attest to the stress, burnout, and discontent people experience when life becomes lopsided. Right now, many of us are experiencing lopsidedness. Need I say more? Adjusting to the circumstances is challenging. Let values guide you and make the most of October as your gap month. Have a plan for next year with room to adjust so you can remain agile. Start by clarifying your values within each life domain. Did I mention this will enhance your life with resilience factor? We can all use a double dose of resilience right now.
Notice I did not offer any definitions or descriptions of the four life domains. It’s up to you to define and elaborate on each domain. You bring life to each domain based on your heart. Why is this nifty? Because nobody can know your life and live your life better than you. Take time to contemplate each domain. Sleep on it. Let your mind percolate. Then, write about each domain. Wander while you write. Travel inside. A north star will emerge. Seriously, invest the time over the next two weeks and realize the benefits over the next twelve months.
- Work and education
- Personal Growth and Health
Feel Better Now
Evidence-based programs and processes speak to me so I thrive on research. Within the field of psychology research indicates we feel better when we know what will happen. We like predictability. It gives us a sense of security. Does this surprise you? As I said earlier, no one has a crystal ball. No one knows for sure what will happen next. However, we can plan what we want to happen next. We can’t control everything but we can control some things. A well-used gap month is perfect for creating a sense of predictability. Feel better now. I promise you will like the results. October is your gap month. Do just this one thing to feel better today and tomorrow. Furthermore, it costs you nothing but your time and a few pieces of paper.
The instructions are for small business owners. Adjust accordingly for your situation.
- Print out a calendar page for each month of 2021. Don’t think you can do this by looking at one month at a time on Google calendar. You can’t. Print them out. Find a full page month by month with holidays listed.
- Lay them out in order on the floor or on a table so that you can see them all at the same time. This will help when planning for extended vacations. Also, it is easier to plan a project time line, especially for marketing purposes.
- Mark off the weeks you will take vacation. Yes, this comes first. If you wait until you “have time”, you will never have time. Entrepreneurs are notorious for putting their leisure last. Your quality of work is directly related to your self-care. Don’t know what the kid’s school break schedule is? No problem. Use this year as a guide and build in some white time. White time is a range of possible dates. This is how to build wiggle room.
- Mark off the days of each week that you will not work and will focus 100 % of your time and attention to those you love. Yes, this comes second. Don’t give the people you love your leftovers. Time with loved ones is like putting money in the relationship bank. It works best for everyone if you can pick the same days each week for loved ones. Predictability. Spouses, significant others, children and dogs can take just about anything, including a pandemic as long as they have somewhat of a predictable routine to spend with you. The life domain relationship is defined by you and your values. Let your values shine.
- Mark off the days of each week you will spend doing support work (i.e. work that has to get done that does not directly generate revenue). Even if you have a support team, you still need to have days when you do your part. Stuff like: paying bills, planning out the next 30, 60, 90 Days in more complete detail as the year blossoms. Your non-revenue days can be used for exploring new speaking or writing opportunities, making changes to your blog theme, cleaning off the top of your desk, etc. Yep, you’ve got to commit at least one day a week to making these tasks your primary focus. It keeps things from catching on fire. You are many things, but a fireman is not one of them.
- Mark off the days of each week that you will focus solely on the revenue generating activities of your business. That could be speaking, coaching, writing, holding workshops – whatever it is you DO to earn money. Don’t have any revenue generating activities to schedule? Spend these days making networking calls or whatever it is you need to do to get these activities scheduled.
- Now transfer what you’ve put together onto whatever calendar system you use most regularly. You can even share it with your staff, family or partners. I use a 12 month wall calendar so I can see all twelve months together. Post it in a prominent place
- You now have a rough map (leave room for the unexpected) to help guide you through the coming year. Of course it isn’t perfect or foolproof. It gives you something to work with as net for catching your days so that they don’t get away from you.
- When you get lost, or bogged down and can’t seem to find your way, look at out your map. Figure out where you are. Figure out where you want to go. Adjust your compass and head out.
- A by-product of mapping out your year is you can build in fun as a reward for the hard work you do. Having a plan and accomplishing goals can be the vehicle to motivate you forward.
- Print this out and commit to doing one step each day so that 2021 will be a year you get it done.
Finish with a word for the new year. My word for the new year is agility! Come December 31st I begin the year of agility. How about you?
(adapted from Escaping Mediocrity)
About the Author:
Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career after completing a successful 17-year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. She is the author of Sweet Spot, to be released in the fall. The above post is an excerpt from her book, Sweet Spot. You can find free resources be clicking Sweet Spot. One of her greatest joys is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. Step by step she walks with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition. Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor specializing in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy/Training (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. She loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family. To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page.