Welcome to the 4th quarter! It’s the place where dreams go to die, survive or thrive! Maybe that’s a little dramatic. Here’s the point: you are either content with giving up on the year, determined to take one or a few more steps, or oh so close to conquering all of those current goals. Here’s why setting goals in the fourth quarter matters.

IT’S THE BEST WAY TO AVOID THE FOURTH QUARTER TRAPS

The fourth quarter is the coziest time of year. It’s like an ending to a movie, good or bad. If you’ve made it until the end, you’ve likely settled in and accepted it for what it is. Crushed goals mean you can relax while patting yourself on the back. Goals in progress mean the end of the year probably feels like a stopwatch. And if you have yet to start or have made little advancement, you are likely allowing yourself to be content and just throw the rest of the year away.

Either way, these mindsets can lead to being stuck. Note: there is a difference between taking a break and coming to a complete stop. We all need breaks. We all need a minute to pause and catch our breath. However, there’s a critical moment where a pause turns into an impediment. That impediment then fuels your procrastination and feeds your discouragement. It’s so much more difficult to get moving when your feet are in the mud.

IT’S THE CREATOR OF CLICHÉ’S FOR A REASON

The fourth quarter is the creation of some of the best cliché’s known to mankind: it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish; the best is yet to come; it’s better late than never, etc. Every great story has a great ending. The problem is that ending cannot happen without action. While action doesn’t guarantee resounding results, you cannot have a great ending if you are sitting idle.

See that ending is often what we most remember. Even if we don’t recall the details, we evoke the feelings. The ending erases much of what precedes it. If you do nothing all year, yet finish strong; you feel proud that you eventually picked yourself back up. If you had a great start and fell of the wagon; feelings of disappointment tend to rule the narrative. The fourth quarter is often the difference between being awarded a consolation prize for the year or feeling like a winner.

THE NEW YEAR WILL THANK YOU

The first of January is not some magical date. You are unlikely to wake up on the morning of January 1 a changed person fueled with motivation, perseverance and clear vision. In fact, you are likely to procrastinate another day. You will tell yourself, “it’s a new year. I still have 364 more days to get myself together.”

Setting even just one goal in the fourth quarter will give you momentum heading into the New Year. Remember that sentiment I just shared about being stuck in the mud? Think about it. How long does it take a cold engine to get going? Now how long will it take a car with a running engine that’s already in drive? It’s a no-brainer. Simply taking your foot off the brake wins every time.

Doing something, anything now will also help you set more realistic goals come the new year. How many of us over promise? Or set the bar too high? When we don’t have a pulse on where we are, we can’t accurately determine the next steps. We shoot for the stars. (This IS encouraged in the long term.) But when we don’t meet those self-induced demands in an unrealistic time frame, we tend to give up more easily. Clocking how long it takes you to complete one step, right now will help you better predict what your next steps should be.

Regardless of where you are, you shouldn’t stay in any mind frame for too long. Life happens. Time flies. Breakthroughs occur. We fall. We soar. Things change. We change. It’s an unpredictable game we’re playing. So every quarter counts. Take a step today.

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