Finish The Year Strong: You Will Regret Slacking Off

Always finish the year strong. Run through first base as a coach would say. 2020 was a brutal year. But you can still come out a winner.

End of the year is the time to step up your game and go into Superstar mode!  It is very easy to start slacking with Thanksgiving and the winter holidays right around the corner.  

Snap out of it!  Slack mode puts your career progression and whatever you are doing at risk during the most important time of the year.

The Fourth Quarter Is Where It All Happens

Promotions: Practically all promotions are determined in the 4th quarter. Managers will discuss who are the deserving ones who get to climb one step higher.  It doesn't matter how hard you worked in the first half, if you are perceived as a weak performer in October-December, you can forget about that promo.

Pay Raise: With a promotion usually comes a pay raise.  However, there will often times be cases where you get a pay raise without a promotion.  Again, 4th quarter, or more clearly fiscal year end is when your pay raise for the following year will be determined.  Management need as much information about the current calendar year to determine a realistic budget.  It's much easier to decide not to give a raise than to give a raise.  It's up to you to perform so well that management can't help but feel horrendously guilty for not rewarding you!

New Assignments: If you've been looking to relocate to a different office, or move to a different department, there's no better time to be the best employee possible than in the 4th quarter.  You need the praise of your manager and of your colleagues to change, since they are putting their necks on the line to recommend you.  If you can't show them that you are an excellent candidate working with them, they are certainly not going to recommend you working with others.

Who To Demote or Fire: As managers figure out their budgets for the following year, they almost certainly come up with a list of who are in the bottom 10%.  Not everybody is like Jack Welch from GE where he famously let go of the bottom 10% every single year.  However, rest assured that all managers are always thinking about who to let go in case profits drop drastically.  Get out of the bottom 10%, and better yet, get into the top 10%!

Bad Memory: Nobody remembers what you did in the first half of the year.  Think about all the times you write your year end review and forget about your own great accomplishments.  How about all those “oh yeah” moments where you forgot you did something awesome 10 months ago?  If you can't remember, your manager sure as heck ain't going to remember what you did either!  Hence, strategically, you should front load your vacations and cruise in the first half, and then step it up in the second half if you are so inclined.  Of course, it's better if you can be the superstar all throughout the year!

Always Work While Others Are Playing

Always finish the year strong.  It's the exact same mentality of a distance runner sprinting to the finish and a baseball player running through first base.  The 4th quarter is where you've got to give it everything you've got.  Come in earlier, volunteer more, increase your exposure and so forth.

Let those who go on holiday mode slack and then complain in 1Q why you got ahead and they didn't!  And worst case, if you don't get promoted, don't get a raise, and actually lose your job there is always government help on the way!

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38 thoughts on “Finish The Year Strong: You Will Regret Slacking Off”

  1. Nice post. Better get my butt in gear. :) Ironically, since joining Yakezie, I almost have extra momentum which is pushing me to work on my blog and flowing over to kick it up a notch at my workplace, too. The Yakezie Effect? Cool side benefit!

  2. Nothing is happening here. A lot of people go on vacation, no major projects, no evaluations… nothing. Last year they threatened to lay off people around Christmas but then graciously decided to wait until the beginning of a new fiscal year.

  3. Hahaha, nice! I glimpsed at my goals for 2010, and I failed at over half of them, but not for a lack of effort!

    Seriously, who can remember 1Q, unless they have a blog to look back on!

  4. Kevin@InvestItWisely

    Where I am I think the summer is more crucial, as that’s when everything happens. Winter is still important too, of course, and lately I’ve been feeling more motivated. We have some new stuff coming in, plus the Yakezie is moving along, and I’m nearing the end of class so all the work I’ve been putting into that has me in a “do things” mode. Let’s hope I don’t get lazy over the holidays. :P

  5. Yeah but I still have to make a perfect plan for the great closing of 2010 and make it worth on the coming 2011, hoping for a bigger changes and good positives vibes towards everything.

  6. This is a great point; so many people start slacking off towards the end of the year. Our department is working harder than ever to close out 2010 with a bang, and bring in the new year even better. We’ve been seeing some promotions, and unfortunately, some people being let go. Not sure about pay raises, but definitely some interesting points, and some fire to keep the momentum going

  7. Sandy @yesiamcheap

    I’d be curious to see how many people think that this year will be better than last in terms of earning more money, a promotion, etc. I certainly don’t feel that way due to my company’s current performance.

    1. I guess you can be one of the anecdotes! I should put up an income survey widget which received about 500 anonymous entries on income. It was quite insightful. I know many industries that are up and some that are down.

      Google +10% for pay at the very least!

  8. Really good post, Sam.

    People tend to check out, go through the motions, and even drop the ball on things in the 4th quarter. I like to look at it as a football game, with 4 quarters. You can be ahead of the game through 3.5 quarters, then let up and see your lead diminish toward the end. Worse, you could lose.

    Now, I admit that I am a big believer in balance, which includes time off not only for recharging, but for simply doing other things and thinking of other things. That said, before you go on vacation for the holidays, stay sharp and hit it hard. You can pull from the pack and differentiate during this time, as others slack. Or, conversely, you can save yourself.

    Decisions are in fact often made during this time, as you say. Or, at the very least, lasting impressions for performance reviews are made.

    Sprint to the finish line, before your well-deserved break for the holidays. It will pay dividends.

  9. “group-think shutdown” that is good! it’s so true that finishing the year strong can be hard, but making a good impression, as you mentioned, will be remembered around this time.

  10. The Financial Blogger

    So true! I also feel that the 4th quarter is often the one in which we have sweet surprises since we do not expect them so much. So yes, it is time to take advantage of it. Thinking about it, many changes in my company started out that time of the year… most of them for good!

  11. When I first started in my current position they said to me that I couldn’t take off from Thanksgiving to December 31st because they instill your kind of attitutde across the board here.

    I always try to ask the Boss-Men if I am on the right track in the last week or 2 of December.

  12. I agree that finishing the year strong is important to keep the momentum going. Most of these points don’t apply for me, but having three weeks off between December and January makes me realize I need to devote them to special side projects and get going on a few endeavors!

  13. harvestwages

    I like your point of view. We are about crossing the finish line. The 4th quarter is usually not easy and we need to be prudent enough in order to reach greater heights.

  14. Yup, it’s year-end review time in many companies – in December, so finish strong! Also make sure to sell your accomplishments, network, but don’t overdo it since everyone hates a brown-noser.

  15. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been busy giving performance reviews at work and definitely don’t want to see people slacking at this time of year, esp. because it’s one of the busiest times at work when we have to close the books for the year. We have mid year reviews as well so it’s pretty hard for people to slack off without me knowing b/c I’m constantly evaluating their work. I also think I’m more forgiving to someone who starts a year out so-so and ends strong vs someone who starts out strong and ends weak. Let’s all hope the bonus fairy is laden with cash this year!

    1. “I also think I’m more forgiving to someone who starts a year out so-so and ends strong vs someone who starts out strong and ends weak.” <- That is a great point which buttresses my thesis.

      Here's hoping to a generous bonus fairy too!

  16. Alas, our Financial year goes from July – June, so the 2nd half is still a few months away.


  17. We’re always reminded in my organization to keep track of our accomplishments throughout the year. If we don’t, like you are saying, we screw ourselves in the end. Thanks for the post.

  18. Money Reasons

    This has been a bad year for me, hopefully next year will be better…

    Anyway you look at it, this is the time to regroup and collect one’s thoughts to create a new game plan, at least if you’re in my shoes.

  19. December is a waste around here! The auto companies shut down for about 10 days and it is Holiday Time! No traffic, no work- fun!!!

    I do agree with you though. If there is anything you can do to improve the balance sheet for your group/office for the year, do it. (Assuming you aren’t firing everyone but yourself so you alone can reap the rewards of the annual bonus.) It is always great to end a year on a good note too!

    1. That’s exactly what happens…. GROUP THINK SHUT DOWN in December which is EXACTLY the time you’ve got to do more. If December is a waste, then November is your time to rocket to Superstar status!

      1. Very very true.

        I know a lot of companies have all but stopped employee raises and bonuses so many employees are made to just feel lucky they have a job. I wonder if the lack of a ‘carrot’ has reduced the overall productivity of these companies?

        1. Most definitely the loss of a carrot hurts productivity. But, what can a company do sometimes if their profits are low? Better to not pay a bonus than go through a round of firing right?

  20. The 4th quarter comment is so true, what have you done for me lately? :)
    At my company the employee wrote the draft of the yearly review. My tip is to spend a lot of time and thought writing and making it GREAT. This is your most important project of the year – get paid! Many engineers don’t like writing and don’t spend much time on this. That’s a bad bad mistake.

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