Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Get Ahead During the Holiday Season (Or Any Time of Year)

As I write this, much of the world is in slumber. It’s the holiday season, and many people are on vacation or taking the week off. Families are getting together to exchange gifts, eat food, and nap excessively.

Get Ahead (Horse race photo)

Photo credit: Roger Barker (Creative Commons)

Some friends are taking a break from social media. Many bloggers are encouraging their readers to unplug: to rest, fast from the online world, and be present to those they love most. Which is great, but incomplete, advice.

Yes, be present. Be available. But don’t go on autopilot. This is the perfect time to get ahead. Don’t waste it.

One way to get ahead

Have you ever seen the movie Iron Will? It’s an “underdog” story about a young man who enters a cross-country dogsled race to beat the odds and save his family. Do you know what he does to succeed? He does what no one else will do.

Each night, the main character, Will, shaves an extra hour off his sleep schedule, until the last night when he doesn’t sleep at all. He is helped by a handful of guides, one of which gives him some important advice (which might be a mantra for our own lives):

You have to be strong. You have to learn focus, stamina, and balance. Only the smart ones will finish.

You have to run longer and sleep less… You’ll make friends who aren’t your friends, enemies who want to hurt you. Be careful who you trust.

You have one chance. You must run at night when the others have stopped. Run with the moon. Embrace the darkness.

Grow hard with the cold. Put pain from your mind. And on the last day… you alone will be friendly with the dark.

It’s not a pretty picture. Will’s body doesn’t cope well with the cold or lack of sleep. He gets sick, battles the elements, and encounters his fair share of obstacles. But he perseveres. And he wins.

How does he do it? When others are sleeping, he’s working.

This is how you win at life, how you break out of the constant feeling of being left behind: Work harder; show up more often; and eventually, you prevail. It’s not easy. It will require sacrifice. But it will also lead to victory.

What if you did this?

During a season when much of the world is going to sleep, what if you didn’t?

What if you tackled that manuscript? What if you got up early or stayed up late, not forever but just until the project was finished? What if you started something new, read a book for fun, or began working out?

This is the secret to beating the status quo: Don’t do what everyone else is doing. Do what you know you need to do, and do it well. And don’t think this only applies to the holidays.

Successful people aren’t successful because they’re like everyone else. They’re successful because they’re weird. Because they do what others are afraid or unwilling to do. So be weird. Be you. And start working on what you’ve always wanted to do.

Don’t work harder…

Some people will read this and get the wrong idea. They’ll think I’m advocating for a workaholic lifestyle or antisocial behavior. Not at all. What I am encouraging is you to live a life you won’t regret, one you can be proud of.

Many times, I’ve wasted energy on trivial things, squandered opportunities on distractions and comforts that didn’t add up to anything. And I’ve learned that the people who live important lives are the ones who understand sacrifice and commitment, who exchange comfort for meaning.

I want a life that looks more like that: one full of passion and purpose, a life that I don’t have to escape from.

Yes, I’ll still take vacation and time to rest, but I’ll also use opportunities to do important work. Which may mean getting up early to write, exercising instead of napping, or tackling that pile of books by my bedside instead of watching another hour of television.

This doesn’t stress me out; it invigorates me. It doesn’t steal my energy; it brings me life. And spending “down time” going deep with the things you love will do the same for you.

This isn’t for everyone

To be fair, this isn’t for everyone.

If you’ve been hustling all year and need a retreat from the world for a few days, by all means take it and recuperate. You may need to enjoy some much-needed rest in order to start the New Year refreshed. If that’s you, you should unplug without one ounce of guilt.

You deserve it.

But if you’re like many of us who have putting off important projects all year long — not drudgery, but tasks you’ve dreamed of doing and haven’t — then you really owe it to yourself to find a way to invest in those dreams. After all, they’re worth it, aren’t they?

Wouldn’t you rather exhaust yourself on the things that matter than end another year with a long list of things you wished you’d done?

How are you spending this time of year? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I’ve been taking the last couple of weeks to pour into some writing that is not blog related. I had a bit of a revelation from a simple discussion with Jon Acuff, and it completely changed how I was approaching a project that I’ve been wanting to work on, but was unsure how to proceed. I’m sure I haven’t written as much on it as others may have with the same amount of time, but it’s been a lot for me and I feel like as I’m actually doing it, I’m seeing ways to make it work in the way that I had originally intended. But it took  just DOING it to get started. Unplugging from my blog for a couple of weeks has given me the opportunity to do this. If I had stopped altogether, that would have been bad.

    Loved this when you sent it in the newsletter, love it again today. Thanks Jeff! Happy New Year!

    • Happy New Year, Alise! Hope things are going well.

  • Rachel

    So very helpful. This is exactly what I’ve been doing on this week off . Want to head into the new year with a jump start, not out of breath trying to keep up. Thanks!

  • I appreciate your message. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a rut during the holidays, sitting around practicing nothing, to the point where returning to work is actually harder and more exhausting than if you had kept working. You are right, the holiday season is a wonderful time to tackle some things you normally don’t have time for, or begin incorporating them into a new lifestyle, so that in the new year you can. Wonderful food for thought.

    Also, I must say, that I GREATLY appreciated your disclaimer at the end that, no, this message may not be for everyone. In a way it is. Sometimes people need to work at not working as much or work on different things, like relationships. Thank you for recognizing that some work too much at one thing and need to balance themselves. 

    A very well-rounded article. Oh, and, I loved the Iron Will reference. That was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Check out Balto, too. In a way, he is even MORE inspirational. 🙂

    Again, thank you for sharing and working hard to create daily relevant food for thought.

  • I appreciate your message. It is so easy to get wrapped up in a rut during the holidays, sitting around practicing nothing, to the point where returning to work is actually harder and more exhausting than if you had kept working. You are right, the holiday season is a wonderful time to tackle some things you normally don’t have time for, or begin incorporating them into a new lifestyle, so that in the new year you can. Wonderful food for thought.Also, I must say, that I GREATLY appreciated your disclaimer at the end that, no, this message may not be for everyone. In a way it is. Sometimes people need to work at not working as much or work on different things, like relationships. Thank you for recognizing that some work too much at one thing and need to balance themselves. A very well-rounded article. Oh, and, I loved the Iron Will reference. That was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Check out Balto, too. In a way, he is even MORE inspirational. :)Again, thank you for sharing and working hard to create daily relevant food for thought. 

  • Heather Marsten

    Thank you for this post. I spent a week and a half not writing, but reversed that yesterday. I had kids home from college and chose to focus on them, but now have to get back into the swing of things.  Hoping your new year is blessed.

    • You’re welcome! Glad to hear you’re back at it, Heather.

  • NickZ

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I agree with every word you have said. It is very inspiring.
    I have a To-Do list for my holidays – all the things that I want to do before the New Year starts. Things that matter. I use this time to reconsider my priorities, to think about the last year and to set my goals for the next. I do things I like, like reading or translating or writing or going to the gym or cleaning my home or visiting my family or just resting or having a wonderful bath – that is what matters to me only. The way to devote the time and attention to myself and those things that are most  important.
    Once more – happy New Year! I count with you and your posts there – in the new cycle coming :).
    Best regards,

  • Plus, you can tie what you plan to do with your writing together with your New Year’s Resolutions. That way, it will have so much more importance. We could also include things like removing some clutter from out lives and learning how to prioritize our duties.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Jeff!

    I concur with Alise. It’s all in the DOING. And have ever I lacked at that. The past year has seen many changes and achievements, yet also many areas where just “doing” wasn’t employed.

    I’ve really needed to grab time and set boundaries where able. I’d had plans to get caught up on certain projects and write more and I’ve done well in some areas. Yet other plans have suffered as I thought I’d have more time. 

    Or perhaps I over committed for a time when there are also many more distractions such as kid’s plans, play dates, taxiing a kid to work, parties, and family plans.

    The kids are gone today and tomorrow. And I have no commitments. So, I’ve the opportunity set before me to grab some zone time by cutting out all distractions and by not doing what everyone else is doing. 

    I’m more interested in work/doing than parties. Too many years of the latter have led to a reduced desire for all things associated. So will celebrate the passing of this year with a renewed zest for life and desire for greater accomplishments, as evidenced by the manner in which I’ll enter the new.

  • Thank you, Jeff. I read this from the newsletter, and so grateful to read this again, as a blog post this time. This one truly deserves the spotlight.

    Thanks to you, I did the work during Christmas and realise the end of my year already start rumbling with the tone of 2012 already— travel, opportunity, maturity. Oh wow, the magic of setting the intention. I am even more so ready for 2012!
    Let’s ship!

  • Seriously awesome stuff here! I vote you Linchpin Writer of the year 🙂

  • Curt

    I love this. The hard truth often isn’t the most fun, but it is the truth, which makes it worth hearing and living. Thanks Jeff.  

  • I too have been shipping, and truly feeling “invigorated and brought back to life” (what a good way of putting it). I know I won’t be able to keep it up once I’m back at work, but it does make for a satisfying reprieve from the everyday (and my blog stats are being invigorated too). 

    Thank you for putting your passion into words and becoming a catalyst for mine!

  • I’m encouraged by these posts. It’s not like we need permission, but well, you’re kind of sounding the trumpet–go all out weird. Strange and comforting. We know how we try to blend or fit or at least, be normal. Ha. I’m usually ab-normal with my husband only, but that’s a-changing. Thanks for leading the charge.

  • I stay up late working on my project. I get off work, head to the gym for a few hours. Shower, turn on Pandora, grab a Gatorade or Gingerale and work – except, I really, really enjoy it. 

    The problem is when I get so into it I sleep really, really late. I have a hard time in the morning as a result. I’ve tried sleeping early and waking early but that’s just a habit I’ve never been able to stick with. I guess I’m just a nite-owl – or I prefer it that way. 

    • I do both. Depends on the season. I love ginger ale.

  • Perhaps the path is one of intentional rest or progress. We want to be in control of our lives and where we are heading, and therefore a season of intentional rest for a particular purpose may mean as much as intentionally working on a project. For me personally, I’ve been concerned with the ways social media and internet have been changing me as a person and how they have possibly hurt my writing, so I used the holidays to disconnect from the computer. I got back on it today and promptly spilled a mug of tea on my keyboard… Maybe the universe is telling me something.

    • Hah! Maybe.

    • “Intentional rest”… thanks, Ed, for sharing in vulnerable, transparent ways. And for reflective examination. I appreciate you, friend…

  • Michelle

    I am inspired by these posts.  Your newsletter came out earlier today, and I came here to try to reply, but this post is just as good.  I have several goals I am working on this year and this will be a great weekend

  • He Who never sleeps, made us to sleep so we would know that we have limitations. Simply to release and rest in Him. So here… now… during these holy-days… it’s rest. That is getting ahead for me right now — with “getting ahead” being defined simply as being faithful, that’s all— just. rest. All in Him.

    Every blessing, Jeff….

    • Beautiful, Ann — as usual. Thanks for sharing.

  • Anonymous

    As I have arrived at the age of 63, I say to you, “I have something to say here in this comment and otherwise”.
    Interesting that one arrives at self permission.
    In the past 3 years I have been reading the likes of Godin, Gladwell, Jobs, Trump, Clinton.   And just recently a colleague of mine nudged me towards your blog Jeff.  
    Most of the voices are of men.
    In my counselling practice here in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I see a number of men.   They come in with no map only confusions and fused to known, agreed social norms for men.
    Imagine me a woman talking about how to be a warrior?
    To borrow from Godin, a woman doing such is so poking the gender box of counselling.
    “My men” often refer to me as the Iron Maiden, or the Nazi therapist.
    So, turning to you, Jeff, I like some of your ideas in particular guest blogging.  
    I put in where I am due to the fact the professional blogging pond seems to be silent here in my locale.   Could be because I really have not gone fishing around.   I have a blog on my website that is shipped however the responses, comments are not coming–yet.  Yes, I know what to do.
    Last night I re-read Godin’s, Poke the Box, and yep, there it was again–“keep starting”.
    And the Tedx question Godin puts forward:  If you had a chance to do a TED talk, what would it be about?
    This definitely pushes and pokes my creative muse.
    Bill O’Hanlon [Google him, he’s one of Godin’s Tribe] suggest that one can write and talk well about people, places, things or ideas where one has been blissed, blessed, pissed/dissed.
    So my task is to find or create a forum where I can advance my Iron Maiden with the velvet glove counselling ways that really work versus the Hallmark greeting style that is so prevalent here in Vancouver, B.C.    Quoting Joan Rivers–“puke, oh…grow up…be real”

    • Bmvintage3

      Thanks for the post. I had been looking for something related and found your web site in the process.I will definitely be back for more.

      straight razor

  • This is a great post! I learned this lesson when I live on the streets. I’ve always had trouble sleeping but homelessness really teaches to stay alert and take cat naps. Since I’ve never enjoyed the luxury of traditional education, when I decided to pursue photography and journalism I had to work twice as hard to learn how to find my voice, to write and even though I’ve been published as a journalist I still have to learn. I work twice as hard because I have to catch up. I used to assist a photographer during the day and then read and practice till all hours of the night. I taught myself everything including building websites. 

    Life is our greatest teacher and when we allow nature to educate us we excel because when the road get tough you already know how to weather the storm. I’ve gone from living on the streets to traveling the world.

  • Anonymous


    Fantastic article. It was truly convicting to me! I want to live a life of utmost significance and influence to make a difference on this earth. I need to push a bit harder and work a bit longer. 


    • Awesome, Justin. Hope you’re getting at it!

  • Perriex1

    I loved Iron Will.
    The lines you included made me cry!!

    So many ppl work too hard… but maybe theyre
    focusing on the wrong things!

    Im lazy by nature, so I appreciate the motivation.

    Getting published is up to me.
    If I get serious, it will happen.

    Thanks Jeff.
    Kris G.

    • It’s a great movie, and I share some of that nature, too. We all need a little motivation from time to time. 🙂

  • Pingback: Show Up: How to Change the World and Get Ahead | A Parched Soul()

  • dovo razor

    Hi – It’s good to read such interesting stuff on
    the Internet as I have been able to discover here.
    I agree with much of what is written here and I’ll be
    coming back to this website again. Thanks again for posting such
    great reading material!!

  • Jeff, what I have done is take advantage of having some extra time to build margin for my blog. I’ve gotten ahead and scheduled posts so that I’m not a slave to writing when I have to post. It’s freed me up so that I can expand my writing to other things as well.

    • Awesome. I need to do that. Thanks for the reminder, Larry, and for the challenge. 🙂

  • I’m one of those people who have the week off. And I plan to list my writing goals for 2014 and start to achieve those goals. (I know I’ll feel good each time I can check off one item.) I’ll also take some time to rest and renew and will probably take my camera and go on at least one photo excursion. (Photography inspires me to write.)

  • Hal Baird

    I go into high gear this time of year. All of a sudden the file cabinet needs to be organized and things I no longer need thrown out. All the music at my church (I’m Music Chairperson) must be put away. I need to make organized lists of almost everything. The house needs to be cleaned from top to bottom, etc. By the time I reach two days before the new year, I am totally exhausted and totally happy, feeling “prepared” to face the new year. The next two days are my vacation. Pick up that book I’ve been wanting to read. Pour a glass of water. And just vedge!

    • Hah! It sounds like you’re doing everything BUT vegging, Hal. Good for you!

  • Abbye West Pates

    My husband and I are, between the two of us, musicians, songwriters, coffee roasters and seasoning blend makers… Plus the part-time jobs that help us keep going. So, yesterday evening, we posted up in a coffee shop for a few hours for a business meeting – setting specific goals in all areas of life and having the conversations you usually put off (how much do we charge for shows? how do we get stuff in stores?)

    Not our usual restful Sunday evening, but it was, as you said, invigorating!

    • That’s fun, Abbye. Sounds like you guys are living the portfolio life, doing a little bit of everything that you enjoy. Love that.

  • Todd Brison


    I’ve been hearing about you for a while, but only recently started reading. I’m glad I started now, though because your Christmas series has been absolutely the reading I need during this time. Instead of being frustrated and confused, and then just moving on, you’ve helped me embrace the ill feelings and see Christmas how it really is. Thank you.

    • Wow, Todd. Thank you. That means a LOT. I appreciate you.

  • Josephine Amoako

    Very inspiring, Jeff. Happy holidays !

  • David Johnston Art

    Fall and early winter are usually my busiest times of the year. So, I fall into the resting category. Gearing up for a busy January – November 2014 though!

  • renee

    I have spent the last week or so completing my workbook from Michael Hyatt’s 5 DAYS TO YOUR BEST YEAR EVER. I’m amazed at how a 32 page workbook can streamline my entire 2014 goals. I get up an two hours before everyone and do “my work” so the rest of the day we can share as a family. I love a plan that works.

    • Amen! So glad you’re doing that, Renee. Michael knows his stuff.

  • Hi jeff love the article, I have been guilty of putting off things waiting for the “perfect” time that never comes. I have been thinking about putting in some hours to create more while others sleep and just never did it. I think this article might just push me enough to get cracking. Thanks very much!

  • Beth

    This is good stuff. I can relate to it. I haven’t blogged for a coupe of months, but it’s been *almost* intentional…every time I think about writing a post, something in me says, “Nope, not yet. Keep resting. You don’t really want to do it yet.” And I mentally agree and assent to that, and simply walk away. No guilt, no burden; I’m finally wise enough to recognize a seasonal break of rest for exactly what it is – just a time of rest from the writing. It’s not that I’ll never write again, have nothing to say, or have lost my creativity all together. It’s just a pause, and I’m trying to be wise to take it as such and not force the Muse…
    Meanwhile, this time of year definitely gets one in the mindset of making neat stacks of papers in our minds to prepare for the new year – goals written, plans of attack made, a clean slate that says “2014” across the top of it. Really, in actuality, the passage of time from December 31 to January 1 is no more eternally significant than January 31 to February 1. But I believe that when God created us humans, He knew in his infinite wisdom we were going to need a major restart every 365 days!

    • You’re right, Beth. Rest is important, too. We need both work and rest to live the life we were meant to live.

  • I’d definitely rather use my energy on things which mattered than those which didn’t. Fortunately, I made a plan of what I needed to do over the holidays, what i needed to achieve, with deadlines, and I’ve largely accomplished it. And still had sufficient downtime too. Great post Jeff.

  • A good, swift kick in the pants to live life more fully and purposefully! Good words to encourage us all.

  • Jeff, I’m grateful for this good reminder not to take the path of least resistance. The easy way so seldom gives lasting rewards. Thanks so much.

    • You are so right, Wayne. Thanks for reading.

  • Sarah Marr

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. I have four empty chapters that have been staring at me. Getting over the hump of actually starting them has seemed impossible. Something in your words today, made me realize that it will be a joy when I dive in….I just needed a push….so thank you.

    • You’re welcome, Sarah! Glad you liked it. 🙂

  • Leanne Sowul

    Jeff, when I first read this post, I only got through the first half before getting interrupted. After reading the whole thing, I felt relieved by the turnaround. I had a lot of trouble with the first half of your post. I respectfully disagree with your “Iron Will” comparison- I didn’t think it was apt, considering your audience. Writers, musicians, and other creative people can’t always just push through. They NEED mental space- a vacation- from work in order to rebuild their stores of inspiration. You’ve said it yourself- you wrote a whole book on how real inspiration comes during the in-between moments, when you’re least expecting it. Working longer- especially to exhaustion- doesn’t always help writers and other creative types. Working SMARTER, and knowing yourself and how you do your best work, is what helps us produce more. That being said, I loved the second half of your post, especially the line “a life that I don’t have to escape from.” I want that too- a career so fulfilling I can’t wait to get up and work every morning, something I’d do even if I wasn’t being paid to, something I never want to retire from. I found this post inspiring, once I got through to the end. Thank you!

    • Thanks, Leanne. You’re right; the creative life is one full of activity and rest. We need both to do our best work.

  • Shari Lynne

    Awww conviction! Some major projects “almost” done…just waiting, waiting, waiting for me…LOL Thank you Jelff. I do need to rest, BUT how can one truly rest when those projects are sitting waiting, waiting, waiting..on your heart to finish. Blessings in 2014!

    • I’m speaking to myself here, Shari. I’ve got a book to write! Let’s tackle these goals together, okay?

      • Shari Lynne

        Let’s do it Jeff!!

  • Good points, Jeff. I took several days off last week but did finish a book project. This week is a normal week because as a new blogger, I need the practice any way. I have been working to strike the work/rest balance. Have a great 2014.

  • kentsanders

    Jeff, this is a really thoughtful post. You make some great points. I have always looked forward to Christmas vacation, but honestly, after a few days of basically doing nothing, it gets kind of boring. So I’ve chosen to use this time to get ahead on a few things. Since I’m a college prof., this works out well since there is a very cut-and-dried schedule and we don’t start back up until around the second week of the year anyway. This gives me a little time to work on the blog, podcast, etc. and get ahead.

    Thanks for the great posts over the past week!

    • You’re right. I’ve got to DO something, even if that something is spending focused time with my family. I can’t just bum around for two weeks.

      • kentsanders

        Although I do have to say, I will take some time to work through Season 5 of Breaking Bad sometime soon … 🙂

  • Carrie Starr

    Thanks for this encouragement Jeff! I could not agree more. This is the perfect time to get ahead on projects and knock off some long-standing goals. Here’s to being weird and finding ways to accomplish what others consider impossible! God’s richest blessings on you in the new year Jeff!! 🙂

    • Thanks, Carrie! Right back atcha. 🙂

  • Vaneetha R Demski

    Thanks for this post, Jeff. That’s exactly what i needed to hear this morning!

  • Jeff,
    Brilliant advice. I’ve taken advantage of this “down time” to push forward on my new book by asking my tribe to help me come up with a name for it. I automated the entire process so people can request copies easily and leave me feedback. I had this rare window of opportunity, and I took advantage of it.

    Here’s to a very successful year for you and your readers.


  • Hi Jeff! Incidentally, I have been hard at work, not work really, just stuff that I love doing 🙂 I have been tweaking my site and also writing some blog posts. It is also the time to finish a workbook that will accompany my just published book (very excited as January will come with a launch!). It is also time I am taking to write and re-connect with reading the Bible more regularly. I am also going into a new season in life… one I can confidently say “I am a Coach and a Writer” 🙂

  • Moonoverhill

    “Only the smart ones will finish.” I hope not, but I understand what you mean.

    • Well this was a quote from a movie, so maybe glean what you can?

  • I’m using this time to build a habit of showing up to write every day so that when the new year starts, I’ll still be building momentum instead of starting from a dead stop.

  • Carroll

    Excellent advice, Jeff. The cup of my life has been overflowing with “must-dos” and “want-tos” for some time now. My book project is consequently long overdue for polishing and publishing. So I had decided to spend New Year’s Eve making some big strides in working on it rather than partying. It’s not that I’m advocating work over end-of-year celebration, but accomplishing a goal can be just as celebratory. After all, as Mark Twain put it, “It’s only work if you’d rather be doing something else.” And I can party supremely later. Your post affirmed that I’m not so weird in feeling this way.

    Carroll Devine

    • You are not SO weird, Carroll, but compared to everyone else, you’re unique. And that’s a good thing. Stay weird. 🙂

  • paulawhidden

    Hi Jeff, thank you for the encouragement and push. I just took a week away from the Internet for a little digital detox and family time. But that did mean I did nothing, it meant I wanted to be away from the noise to think through next year. I’m back now and my new book is in early launch mode. The whole year isn’t planned out by I have a sense of my strengths and weaknesses. Blessings to you and happy new year.

    • Same to you, Paula! Thanks for reading.

  • Michele

    I take time off at the holidays to spend time with my kids while they’re out of school and to write. I’m finishing up my first e-book this holiday break.

    • Nice one Michelle. I’ve also been finishing off mine. 🙂 if you don’t mind me asking, what is your book about?

    • ErikaTheEncourager

      Michele thanks for sharing! Your post just gave me some inspiration!

  • Jeff McKinney

    Jeff – I agree with you totally. The holidays are the best time to do work that feels like play. For me, that meant finally finishing module 2 of tribewriters (tribewriters.com) and nailing down plans (hopefully realistic) for a writing schedule next year. Up early and loving it!!

  • Cyd

    I’ve been trying to break some bad habits over the holidays by doing something completely different. I got a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle. My hubby and I finished the puzzle in five days (yay!) and I feel like I exercised my brain. Amazing how many stories ideas popped up while searching for a piece of the puzzle.

    • Cool, Cyd! I haven’t done a puzzle (except for the five-piece ones my 19-month old son plays with) for quite some time. You just made me want to get back into it!

  • I’ve been finishing off my first ebook. As well as strategizing my online presence (and blog) for 2014

  • ErikaTheEncourager

    This is so good! Thanks for sharing! Posts like this are the reasons I refer to you as my “Blogging Hero.” This is so timely! I’m happy to say that I spent my vacation writing posts for my blog and even writing a few new ones for 2014. Thanks so much for the encouragement. God bless you!

    • Well thanks, Erika. I’m honored. And go you!

  • I’ve been doing a little of both. There’s quite a bit of family around, and they come first in my free time.
    I also have a few things I needed to understand well enough so I can help kids get it, too. So, my usual online outlets aren’t seeing any more of me than usual (or slightly less), but I’ve been busy doing the behind the scenes learning it takes to do well up front.
    Love your balance. None of us are in the exact same place, but we all need encouragement. 🙂

  • Shelley Hess

    Great post, Jeff, with many calls to action! We can pick and choose 🙂
    Husband David and I have some major exciting projects on our ‘2014’ list, and have been using this ‘down time’ as early start-up, with far fewer distractions.
    Each project being huge, our daily efforts include strategizing, ‘think-tank’ time together, breaking down into do-able goals, A LOT OF ‘DOING’, end of day celebrating ‘the baby steps’, as our favorite Robert D. aptly prescribes, and a chapter a day working through one of Gary Smalley’s books “If He Only Knew” which we found unread on our book shelves. That last, quite honestly, is keeping all the rest in balance and our focus on where it needs to be…. having the most awesome time of our lives together IN THE PROCESS!
    Did I mention that I love New Years? For us, it’s theee best time had in looking back at all God’s absolutely incredible blessings in the year almost passed. And that gives way to even more excitement about what lies ahead!!!

  • Mark Slabaugh

    Thanks for the motivation. I’ve been cranking out the end of the year projects and feel like 2014 is going to be a blast! Can’t wait!

  • Robin Wolf Connell

    I’m glad you haven’t taken a break from the writing because I really needed these emails you have been sending out recently. This one was particularly helpful to me as I’m currently attempting to launch my own writing career with a book and a blog that are so unique I’m not sure there is even a market for it. It’s a huge challenge. But your post helped me remember I have to be who I am. I can’t be anything else. Thanks Jeff. Currently your blog is the only one I follow consistently because it helps so much.

    • Wow, Robin. Thank you so much! That means the world to me. Glad you’re enjoying the content. 🙂

  • Ashley Nance

    Ditto to Robin’s comment. I stayed up late Saturday night drafting a pitch for my new writing career, which I want to send out today. I want it to be in businesses mailboxes when they’re ready to take 2014 by the horns and hire the content writer they’ve known they need for months or years. I took some time off to take care of my husband’s health, but I snag a late night here or there to let my voice be heard or learn more about writing or my niche – and it’s just as you say, difficult and invigorating! Of all the “experts” I follow, you’re my favorite, because you actually care about people and know you’re approach isn’t right for everyone. I just told one guru to take a hike because he wouldn’t take “leave me alone” for an answer. I don’t care how much money he makes in a year – he can keep it! I am building a dream and a legacy my children can be proud of. Thank you for your help!

  • Sue Neal

    Hi – excellent post, and I’m glad you tempered the initial message, because I was afraid it was going to be a call to workaholicism (don’t think that’s a word, but never mind!) As you say, it’s about figuring out what’s right for your, and not just following the crowd.

    I have been having a break from blogging and social media over the holidays – I haven’t stopped writing every day, but I haven’t been online for much of the time, and I’ve really appreciated the rest.

    I do think it’s important not to get into a long-term pattern of burning the candle at both ends – it’s bad for your health, bad for your writing, bad for you – and those you love – in all sorts of ways. I’ve had a few months of sleep deprivation, and I don’t recommend it.

    Thanks for another inspirational post.

  • Jon Low

    Thank u Mr. Goin! So glad I found this blogpost and your site – no “coincidence” I’m sure. =]. I especially appreciate how u covered off people’s concerns that u may be advocating a “workaholic”lifestyle – wrong. The heart of the message is honest and clear…Boom to the new year!
    P.s. my holiday starts when I put fingers to the keyboard…hah!
    P.p.s. I love crazy people who are passionate! “I’d rather have the whole world against me, than be an enemy to my own soul” – Demartini

    • Thanks for the comment, Jon, and for reading. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Thank you Jeff for your best blog. It is so easy just to follow the crowd. However I have often found in business holiday periods are times where much reflection can be achieved which enables new ground to be taken. Many thanks. Tony Lynch. Www. Keepthinkingbig.com

  • Phyllis K Twombly

    I changed my writing format. The goal has always been to see my stories made into movies. After three novels I discovered screenwriting. So I went back to zero, assumed I knew nothing and spent a few years learning how to write screenplays. One thing others do is hope their greatest efforts will compensate for flaws in their work. I strive to make every page flawless and compelling, something readers can’t put down.

    • Reminds me of this quote: “I know one thing: that I know nothing.” —Socrates

  • Michelle Nezat

    Jeff, thanks for this post. I am working on putting together my first podcast and blog. I’ve had an idea that has been jostling around in my head for years and has finally come into clarity. Plus I stood up at Platform Conference saying I would start a podcast in the next 90 days and I don’t want to be one of “those people” who will stand at a conference when challenged and then come up with excuses not to achieve the goal.

  • Jerry Thurston

    Thanks for the this blog and site that I just recently found. I also found out that some of the people that I respect follow your blogs.

    This year it is my goal to spend more time reading helpful blogs such as this one as well as books that will improve my writing so that hopefully I can start (and maybe finish) writing what I’ve wanted to within the next two years.

  • Christopher Smith

    Hey Jeff… great blog with lots of great information. Glad I found it.

  • Hi Jeff, excellent post – I really haven’t stopped except in the exercise department 🙂 I will get back to it shortly. I’ve noticed many people offline and out of work last week and this week. It saves me time in traffic so I can spend more time doing what I need. I could not go 24 hours without sleep but I do get up early 3-4 a.m. daily and get a lot done before 7. If only I could get a second wind each night at 7 🙂 Have a wonderful New Year Jeff!

  • I’m so with you! This is a great time to get ahead. This post also reminded me of that quote: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” Now is no better time to be weird and go against the status quo. Have a great New Year, Jeff!

  • I’m spending it planning, writing and focusing on how I can add over-the-top value to my audience in 2014, I’m with you Jeff!

  • tinyandsmall

    me & mine are planning a 12-day cross-country trip to NYC in a mini-van with 4 kids under 10, because we have a few extra dollars, a cooler of food, & we CAN . i relish the permission to get up off the cultural couch & get busy! (writing this with a toddler balanced on my lap because, really, we just need to get going already.)

  • Jeff, I love this concept and am I doing it! I launched my blog on December 26th and have been daily working on a leap into 2014. After taking the course at http://www.bestyearever.me I just went for it and http://www.fireborninspirations.com was born at a time when others said to me “Why are you doing this NOW?” All I could answer was, because 2014 will not be a repeat of 2013. This post so ministered to me and where I am. Thank you.

  • maxwell ivey

    Hi jf;; this is your best post since i started following you. It is balanced and takes into account the varying lives people have lived up to this point in the year. I agree its not just about the holidays when everyone else is sleeping or at least coasting. I exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. I listen to uplifting or inspirational audio books while doing this. I also read fiction as a way of having a little fun. I have favorite tv shows i like, but often i will have my laptop out and work during the commercials. I bought myself a headset microphone for christmas and recorded my first youtube video. It wasn’t bad for a first effort but people were turned off by my doing it lying down. I share a house so it was the only way i could get the privacy to record it. next time i will sit up or wait until the family is gone grocery shopping to record. but i did it got my first one on youtube before the new year got here. next i want to do a video interview either via Skype or in person. I’m always pushing myself but i also take small bits of time out every day to have fun exercise eat healthy and hang out with the family. thanks for the post and take care, max

  • bafriyie

    I’ve been doing just this over the break. I try to write and read something, anything, everyday to keep the writing habit going. Those who stay focused will be rewarded and as I near the end of a major project I couldn’t be more excited.

  • Ioan V

    from my point of view this is a way about making yourself value higher, increase your self esteem, within the limits of logic. it is definitely so important to be on time with the appointments you set with yourself! Jeff – this is Yannis from Greece I do read your posts as often as I can, there could n’ t be any texts more encouraging than yours—- Thank you a million!!!——Wish you and your family a great year!

  • My congregation gave us some money to rent a cabin up in the mountain, to relax fro a few days. My wife and I took this opportunity – together with our two kids and one dog – to meditate, pray, and plan. On these four days I have started a new series of post for the subscribers of my blog (all of them leaders in my church), launched an Indiegogo campaign, and developed a new tool to help in the spiritual transformation of Hispanic Americans based on the Apostles Creed.
    All this while resting, enjoying nature and my family.
    It really pays to use “time off” wisely, with the idea of getting ahead.
    Thanks for this post, Jeff!

  • Jocelyn

    This year I want to grow my blog audience dramatically. Also, I am concentrated on offering better content and more helpful resources such as an eBook I am working on. Thanks for the post!

  • Daphne

    A while ago I removed the word “commitment” from my vocabulary and replaced it with “re-commitment”. Every day that is what gets me through when I want to quit, throw in the towel and take my ball and go home. Re-commit!

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