December 2019 Te Contractor’s Advantage
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Reflection, Rest, and Renewal
If you’re interested, I’m currently reading a few books: a biography on Stalin, a book on planning called "The 12 Week Year," a book about client service and retention, Viktor Frankl’s "Man’s Search for Meaning," Ray Bradbury’s "Fahrenheit 451," a book on effective negotiations called "Never Split the Difference," and a novel by Terry Pratchett. I try to read a variety of books, from business books to biographies, with literature and fiction mixed in. This year, one of the standout books was “The Sabbath” by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. “The Sabbath” was originally published in 1951. I’m not Jewish, or even religious, but this book spoke directly to my core because of the message delivered by Heschel. First and foremost, Heschel writes in such effective prose. He doesn’t waste a single word. In fact, I had to read it a couple of times to really absorb Heschel’s writing (and no, I don’t track books I read a second time in the same year). The book discusses humans’ need for a day of rest and renewal. Though this book was written in the '50s, it’s just as relevant today with our ultra- connected society. The beautiful thing about Heschel’s Jewish Sabbath, unlike our modern concepts of time off and the weekend, is that this day of rest is not a rest from work for the sake of preparing for more work — but rest for the sake of the soul, for our humanity. It’s this idea that I find beautiful.
The end of the year is a good time to reflect. You can think about what went well this year, and if you met the personal and professional goals you set for yourself. You can also think about how you improved, and what challenges you overcame. As I reflect, I can say business has been going well. Like any business, we’ve set goals as a firm, and I also have my own set of goals. Many of them revolve around serving my clients and cases — and I actually met my annual goals in October, far ahead of schedule. At the end of every year, I set aside one or two eight-hour days to sit and reflect. I take a close look at both the goals I accomplished and those I didn’t. I also begin to set new goals for the coming year and look for new ways to challenge myself and grow. One of my big personal goals for the past several years has been to read roughly one book a week. There is no greater way to expand your horizons and learn about new (or new-to-you) ideas than to read. And there’s no better way to stay on track with reading than to track it on a spreadsheet! I keep a spreadsheet detailing every book I’ve read this year — with an overall goal of reading a total of 50 books. I update the spreadsheet at the end of every week. With the spreadsheet, I can calculate my pace to see if I’m on target, or if I’m falling behind. As I write this, I’m right on target to meet my goal.
The holidays, from Hanukkah to Christmas, are the perfect time to rest for the sake of the soul. While many people are running around taking care of various errands in preparation for the holidays, it’s important to focus on what really matters. This is the time to spend with family and friends. During the holidays we often see people we don’t see throughout the rest of the year. It’s a time to reconnect, and through that reconnection and rest we achieve renewal. So, as this year comes to a close, I hope you have time to reflect, rest, and find renewal for the new year ahead.
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