(December 2015): 

Are you wrapping up yet? 

Many industries are slowing for year-end. Perhaps you’re among the frazzled few who actually speed up in the approach to Christmas (events planners spring to mind). Either way, there’s free time on the horizon, and that’s an excellent opportunity to ensure that you’re just that much higher up the industry notch-board as 2016 dawns. 

Here are 6 suggestions for increasing your value, while you have time to zoom back and think strategically. They are arranged in ascending order of complexity. Pick the level of commitment that suits you best: 

1. Take a sheet of paper and do a simple SWOT analysis on your career. What are your current Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats. Do the same for your company. Get some perspective so that you know what to work on next year.

2. Read two books on your greatest problem. Is your profile too low? Two books on increasing your visibility. Are your staff operating in silos? Two books on improving innovative culture. 

3. Hire a coach to work on that one thing you could personally improve upon. A month’s worth of personal coaching could significantly improve your ability to: speak in public; write more persuasively; design like a pro; negotiate better deals. 

4. Start that career-shifting project that you haven’t had time to work on; the piece of design that isn’t urgent, but will help to set you apart, or the book you’ve been meaning to write. 

5. Shop your entire industry. Go undercover as a customer and experience your brand. Then try out the competing brands. Learn who’s best and surmise how you might own that spot. 

6. Go undercover and work in the customer-facing parts of your company. Carry out your own episode of ‘undercover boss’ and experience what’s really going on

Personally, I’ll be using the downtime to do audio recordings of my books for Audible.com. (I’m also having a crack at learning basic Spanish, but we’ll see how far that one goes!). 

My Monday Motivators will continue to go out through year-end, but this one applies now, while there’s time available. By all means enjoy the reduction in stress and obligations. But with a little clever thought, and a small amount of final effort, you can set yourself up now to own your industry in 2016.