In This Issue
Message from the President
Fall 2016
Message from the Regent
Fall 2016
Diversity and Inclusion
Overview on Healthcare Disparities
Healthcare Leadership Summit: “Diversity as Part of the Cure”
Professional Development
End-of-Year Review - It's Personal
Professional Development Articles from ACHE
The Psychology of Success: Leadership Lessons From an Olympic Swimmer
National ACHE News
Fall 2016
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Sponsorship Opportunities Available
Chapter Events
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The Key Components of a Career Plan
Career Development Resources
End-of-Year Review - It's Personal

by Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD

It is that time of year, holidays are approaching and the end of the year review is coming up. As a leader you might be dealing with scheduling demands with physicians, staff and patients and need to juggle the increase (or decrease) in demand for services. You have your own demands with family, friends and coworkers. And then there are the actual work demands that still need attention.

I have some proven tips to make the most of this time of year and start 2017 energized and focused. The tips are divided into Productivity (Getting it Done), Personal (What you eat, drink and think) and Professional (Managing Performance and Career).

Let’s get personal. This is the time of year when it seems like everyone wants to sabotage your best efforts at eating healthy; cookies, fudge, gifts of chocolate along with specialty drinks with lots of whipped crème and caramel suddenly become part of the daily menu. I am sure I do not have to tell you that high sugar will only lower your energy and blur your focus. It also causes weight gain. Be intentional with what you eat, drink and think. Sugary foods can be the go to when demands increase. Did you know that distraction makes it easy to reach for that double fudge brownie?

The more distracted, the greater chance you are in a fight or flight mode. This changes your body chemistry making you crave sugary, carb loaded foods and drinks. It also makes it easy to tell yourself, “I deserve it.”

Did you know that over 50% of what is being done in a day is a do over? Distractions make up the majority of the day making focus near impossible. And studies now show that when distracted, the sense of urgency shows up, making you more tired and irritable at the end of the day. This is the perfect environment to indulge in foods that will actually sabotage your best efforts.


Having a plan to handle sweets and other foods that interfere with your best performance is the first step to taking charge of this struggle.

One of my favorite tools to manage stress, stay focused and get more done is the:

Daily Review. Even if you have never used this, start now and get ahead of end-of-year confusion. The Daily Review is a practice of looking over the day (week, month and year) and asking these 3 questions, What worked, What didn’t, What’s next. Spend 5 to 15 minutes at the end of the day and Journal the answers to these questions. You can use an app or old fashioned notebook and write it out. The most important part of the exercise is to do it every day. It doesn’t help to binge review and spend 2 hours one day and then forget it for a month.

The Daily Review is designed to be short, cryptic and get you to the best and worst part of your day. You can reflect more deeply at the end of the week, end of the month and end of the year, where you spend more time looking at where you have been and where you are now.

This Daily Review is a discipline of focusing your mind on what is most important. With so many distractions, the brain does not have the capacity to retain information in long term memory making recall harder and the sense of urgency typical. Strategic focus like planning, prioritizing and goal setting seem like a luxury for which you do not have time.

The Priority Matrix is another one of my favorite tools. It has four quadrants and helps you sort out: Most Important, Urgent and Important, Urgent and Not Important and Neither Urgent nor Important. For the most part, things that are urgent are usually some one else’s’ agenda. When you spend the time in planning (a Most Important activity), the less susceptible you are to other people making their agenda yours.

The ‘Neither Important or Urgent’ Category is where people go to waste time. And when the brain becomes overwhelmed or fatigued, this can be where you spend time on social media, scrolling the internet or otherwise losing focus. When you spend time planning, you can also plan for down time and give yourself the opportunity to truly recharge.

Make a list of everything you do during the day and put each activity in one of the four categories. What can you delegate? How will planning help you get more control over your time and energy?

Professional (Managing Performance and Career)

The end of the year has most leaders focused on making sure everyone has what they need. This is also the time of year when you have to save time for you to reflect on your professional goals. Where are you with your plans? Use the 3 questions in the Daily Review process to reflect on your career goals.

Most people are not planning their career and simply think in terms of what jobs are available that will pay more or offer opportunity. Having a plan is one of the first steps you should take to make sure you have the opportunity you really want.

Take the time as part of your end of year review and think about your ideal career path. What skills do you need? How can you plan ahead and develop these skills? Do you want a mentor? Do you want a coach? What will help you get to where you need to go?

This time of year highlights a “best practice” for success – gratitude. In spite of the pressure, demands and whatever might be going on, take the time to be grateful for what is working in your life, at work and at home. Studies show that leaders who lead with a solution focus (vs a problem focus) are more compelling and attract more followers. Gratitude keeps your energy and focus on what is possible, as opposed to what went wrong. It builds resilience and feels good, too.

Use these suggestions and get out in front of whatever demands and pressure may be coming at you; have a successful end of year and brilliant start to 2017.

Cynthia Howard RN, CNC, PhD is a Focus and Performance Consultant, working with leaders and organizations to develop resilient leadership and resilient organizations. Visit for more insights and solutions to high performance leadership.