On your Mark, Get Set, Go!

new-years-eve-2016-1113462_960_720The New Year signals the start of a five-month period that I like to think of as the Window-of-Opportunity Sprint. If you’re serious about accomplishing great things in 2017, you’d be wise to come out of the starting gate fast today — and keep going at full speed through at least the end of May.

If you don’t make meaningful strides toward achieving your goals from January through May, you’re going to be playing catch-up the remainder of the year. Then, once June arrives and the kids are out of school, most people go into their summer swoon. That’s when it seems as though everyone you need to talk to has left for Europe, Disneyworld, or a Caribbean cruise for two or three weeks. It can be maddening for those who choose to work year round.

Much of my experience with this problem has been in the book-publishing world. I’ve long said that if I’m reincarnated, I want to come back as a high-level publishing executive. These guys have lunch and dinner at the finest restaurants with agents, authors, and fellow publishers, and most of the tabs for their “business” lunches and dinners are picked up by their companies.

Then there are the sales conferences two to four times a year in such work-conducive environments as Las Vegas, Hawaii, Miami, and Puerto Rico. Throw in the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany and the London Book Fair in the UK and it’s a pretty great life.

But summer provides publishing bigwigs with the biggest perk of all. Beginning in early June, higher-ups at the major book-publishing houses prefer to work from their “weekend homes” in The Hamptons … between trips to Europe, of course. Even rank-and-file book-publishing personnel often head for their Westchester County and Long Island homes at noon on Friday.

If you call someone at 12:01 pm on a Friday in June, July, or August, you’re probably too late. Just forget about it until Monday. Unless, of course, the person you need to speak with decides to take another one of those long weekends that publishing executives are so addicted to — in which case he/she may not be back in the office until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Given all this, if you’re planning to do business with a publisher, particularly one located in Manhattan, you’d be wise to make certain that it happens before the temperature hits 75 degrees in New York City. Otherwise, get in line with everyone else and wait patiently for the return of The Hamptonians in the fall.

In all fairness, however, I must admit that it’s not just the publishing business that hibernates in the summer. Regardless of what industry you’re in, it’s wise to participate in the Window-of-Opportunity Sprint from the first workday in January through the end of May so you’re ahead of the game when summer arrives.

But even if you excel in the Window-of-Opportunity Sprint, don’t make the mistake of joining other labor fakers in a long summer’s nap. Instead, use the period of June through August to plant seeds for the fall. It’s a great time to strategize, plan, and create new products.

Fall is the second-best time to do business, but it’s a window of opportunity that closes much more quickly than the January through May period. It begins the day after Labor Day and comes to a gradual halt just before Thanksgiving.

Unfortunately, when most people return to work the Monday after Thanksgiving, their colons are so bloated with overdoses of mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, and pumpkin pie that they aren’t in much of a mood to make decisions.

Instead, they focus on clever methods for stalling their way to the mid-December slowdown for Christmas shopping. And once they reach that point, they can easily bluff their way through Christmas without having to do any meaningful work.

After that, of course, everything comes to a halt once again until the first workday in January, so you can forget about doing any serious business with anyone until then. It’s amazing how many people live for the slowdown periods and fail to take advantage of the January-through-May and Labor Day-to-Thanksgiving windows of opportunity.

It’s worth repeating: If you’re serious about accomplishing great things in 2017, you’d be wise to come out of the starting gate fast early in January. Then, other than a slight pause for Easter, maintain your forward progress at a relentless pace and be prepared to turn on the afterburners around the first of May. I’ve been operating this way for years, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that it pays huge dividends.

Enough said. Now it’s time to get down in the starting blocks and get ready for the five-month sprint ahead. On your mark … get set … go!

Robert Ringer+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.