The recovery is your opportunity to relax and breathe; otherwise you’ll stall mid-race. During the recovery, though, you need to remain steady and controlled, otherwise you’ll be out of sync with your crewmates and throw the boat off-kilter. Knowing this, many coaches continually remind their crews to “relax the shoulders and slow the recovery.”

This advice applies equally to management accounting and finance professionals like us. Many of us are type A personalities. We’re ambitious, competitive, and highly focused on our work and careers. We’re the first to arrive in the morning, and we turn out the lights at day’s end. We can be impatient, especially if (we think) our time is being wasted. Even during our free time, whether nights, weekends, or vacations, we’re tempted to read emails and check in. We, like the rower, must be reminded to relax and recover.

As we approach year-end, I encourage you to strive for a degree of balance. After you’ve worked diligently all year, studying for exams, teaching tomorrow’s leaders, or driving your organization forward, December is a great time to slow down and catch your breath. Many will be celebrating holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s. Leverage these celebrations to spend quality time with family and friends. Take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with those you’ve lost touch with (e.g., due to COVID-19) and to develop new relationships for your network.

I also encourage you to take time for yourself, prioritizing personal fitness, health, and mental well-being. For example, consider going for a run, playing in a game of pickup basketball, lifting weights at the gym, or, like me, going for a row. Enjoy a hobby you put aside while focusing on your career, such as reading a mystery novel by the fire, playing the guitar, or woodworking in the barn. Now is also the perfect season to give back to your community, serving at a soup kitchen, chaperoning at a shelter, reading to children at the library, or otherwise making a difference. The intangible reward from giving your time and talent is priceless.

Finally, it’s a great time to remember your many accomplishments throughout the year and to reflect on your goals and priorities going forward. For example, perhaps you want to give back to our profession, getting involved as an IMA® volunteer for the first time or in a new way. Or maybe you want to become a CMA® (Certified Management Accountant). Start planning to make it happen.

As 2021 draws to a close, I hope you find some of that elusive balance we should all strive for. And I wish you all the best in the New Year!

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