I don’t like winter. I don’t like the cold, dreary days or the fact that the sun is barely out before it disappears again behind the horizon so that night time seems to last forever. I don’t like the barrenness that accompanies this season (clearly this is my personal opinion but I am sure there are others in my camp). I especially don’t like winters that drag on beyond their expected end date and we seem to have had a prolonged winter – the sort that comes back with vengeance just when you think it’s over.

Businesses and careers can go through winter seasons. A really productive and exciting season can often be followed by a period when it seems like nothing is happening. You make the same calls, put in the same hours and yet you seem to get little for your efforts. You may be tempted to think you are doing something wrong and while that is certainly a possibility that requires further exploration, it may just be this is a winter season for you and you need to recognise it for what it is.

I have never been a Boys Scout (I am the wrong gender obviously) but I vaguely remember that their motto is ‘be prepared’. If I don’t check my car tyres, the anti-freeze, make sure that I have de-icer or a scraper in my car and do the other necessary things that one has to do to get ready for possible inclement weather, then I will certainly be caught out. Just as important is my diligence in preparing my mind to accept the inevitability of winter while reminding myself that just as day follows night, spring will surely follow winter. The consequences of not being prepared for the winter could be potentially disastrous.

So taking time to prepare your business, career or personal life lean times is a good strategy to have. This may require practical things like putting some money away for the proverbial rainy day, diversifying your products and services so that when one area is quiet, the other holds the fort, or looking at ways of reducing expenses when there isn’t much coming in. Preparing as best as you can for potential obstacles is sensible and has many rewards.

But much as I dislike winter, I also realise that it’s not all bad. It can be a time to stop and review where you are and where you are headed. Steven Covey’s well known quote regarding this says, “if the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.”

The busyness and excitement of spring is often not a good time to have substantive reflective periods where you can focus on working on your business rather than just in it, or working on your career progression rather than just the daily grind of going to work. During winter most vegetation, apart for the evergreen ones of course, lose all their leaves and can therefore channel all their energies to strengthening the core of the plant. Winter is therefore a good time for re-evaluation, planning and strategy so that when the season comes to an end, you can hit the ground running.

So where do you find yourself today? If in spring, that’s great and you are most likely excited by all the new growth and promise of better things ahead. If however you are still in winter, instead of letting the dreariness of what’s around you affect you negatively, why don’t you take some time out to dream, plan and put things in place for the future, because spring will come eventually no matter how long winter delay might last.

I’ll finish with this quote by Miguel De Cervantes that summarises all I’ve said – “To be prepared is half the victory.”