Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone, and that can mean only one thing: the official revving up of the rest of the year-end holiday season. And that puts me in mind of a concept that may just enable you to get through the annual craziness with your sanity (and bank account) intact.

I call it “ruthless prioritization.”

Remember the first time you were asked to put together a personal gift list? And how easy it was?

When my age was in the single digits, I could have quoted you a ten-page list of my preferred toys, games, books, clothing, cakes and candies at the drop of a Santa hat.

That was the easy part. The hard part came when someone would ask, “What do you want MOST?”

Well….I wanted it ALL most. But we all soon learn that 100% delivery on your gift list is something that just isn’t likely to happen. And if you want to truly maximize that golden opportunity, you need to be strategic….and prioritize.

This, of course, is true of life as well as the gifting season. In the course of our jobs, especially if we have responsibility for management, creativity, and business growth, there are dozens of ideas we’d love to put into practice at any given time. We are only limited by our resources….and our energies.

But you can’t do them all, nor should you. And neither can your team.

There’s that little thing called “diminishing returns.” Maybe you could get every household item on your list if you bought them all at flea markets and garage sales. But the chances of overall success may well be greatly reduced. Just like working your team too hard and sacrificing quality for quantity, which, in the long run, is usually a losing proposition. 

It’s mission-critical to go into the season focused, with a plan that makes optimum use of your team’s strengths and talents, and attack the activities with the highest Return on Time Invested possible.  That requires picking and choosing which of your brilliant ideas come to life….and which of them go back in the closet for until next time.

Now, we love ALL our ideas, just like I loved every toy in that mail-order catalog. But to strategize effectively, we have to be strong, decisive, and yes, sometimes ruthless in our prioritization process.

That doesn’t mean we pull the plug on projects and ideas willy-nilly—smart managers come up with a process, sometimes even a formula, to determine the activities with the highest likelihood of success.

The ruthless part comes when ideas are eliminated that you (or someone else important) are personally attached to and don’t want to see vanish back into the “someday” file. It can be hard, but it’s gotta be done.

So this holiday season, whether it’s your gift list or your year-end project log, prioritize decisively, firmly, and, yes, ruthlessly.

Because unless you have a team of elves, some flying reindeer and a magic bag to help you out, you can’t make the entire world happy in one night.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and in the coming year, GROW BIG OR GO HOME!