by Robert Ringer

The ringing in of the New Year is very special to me. To begin with, I met my wife on New Year’s Eve. In addition, her birthday is December 31.

But the New Year also signals the start of a five-month period that I think of as the Window-of-Opportunity Sprint. If you’re serious about accomplishing your objectives, you had better come out of the starting gate fast on Monday, January 3 — and keep going at full speed through at least the end of May.

If you don’t make major strides toward achieving your goals from January through May, you’re going to be playing catch-up the remainder of the year. Once June arrives and the kids are out of school, most people go into their summer swoon.

That’s when it seems as though everyone you need to talk to has left for Great Britain, France, or a Caribbean cruise for two or three weeks. It can be maddening to those who love the deal-making game enough to play it year round.

Much of my experience with this problem is in the book-publishing world. I’ve long said that if I’m reincarnated, I would like to come back as a high-level publishing executive.

These guys have lunch and dinner at the finest restaurants — five days a week — with agents, important authors, and other publishers. It goes without saying that the tabs for their “business” lunches and dinners are picked up by their companies.

Then there are those sales conferences two-to-four times a year in such work-conducive environments as Las Vegas, Hawaii, Fort Lauderdale, and Puerto Rico. Throw in the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, and the package of travel perks is pretty appealing.

But summer is the biggest perk of all. Beginning in early June, higher-ups at the major publishing houses tend to work from their “weekend homes” in The Hamptons — between trips to Europe, of course. Even rank-and-file book-publishing employees head for their Westchester County and Long Island homes at noon on Friday.

I mean, literally, if you call someone at 12:01 p.m. on a Friday in June, July, or August, you’re too late. Forget about it until Monday. Unless, of course, the person you need to speak with decides to take another one of those long weekends that publishing executives are so addicted to.

Given these realities, if you’re planning on doing business with a publisher, particularly one that is located in Manhattan, you’d better make sure that it happens before the temperature hits 75 degrees in New York City. Otherwise, get in line with everyone else and wait patiently for the return of The Hamptonians in the Fall.

But regardless of what industry you’re in, if you miss the opening in the Window-of-Opportunity Sprint from the first workday following January 1 through May 31, don’t make the mistake of joining others in a long summer’s nap. Instead, use the period of June-to-August to plant seeds for Fall. It’s a great time to strategize, plan, and create new products.

Fall is the second-best time to do business, but it’s a window of opportunity that closes much more quickly. It begins the day after Labor Day and comes to a gradual halt a few days before Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, when most people return to work the Monday after Thanksgiving, their colons are so bloated with overdoses of mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, and pumpkin pie that they aren’t in much of a mood to make decisions.

Instead, they focus on clever methods for stalling their way to the mid-December slowdown for Christmas shopping. Once they reach that point, they can easily bluff their way to Christmas without having to do any meaningful work.

After that, everything comes to a halt again until the first workday after January. So you can forget about doing business with anyone until then. It’s amazing to me how many people live for the slowdown periods and don’t take advantage of the January-to-May and Labor Day-to-Thanksgiving windows of opportunity.

It’s worth repeating: If you’re serious about making major success strides in 2005, I strongly advise you to be prepared to come out of the starting gate fast on January 3. Then, other than a slight pause for Easter, maintain your forward progress at a relentless pace and be prepared to turn on the afterburners around the first of May.

I’ve been operating this way for years, and I can tell you from firsthand experience that it pays huge dividends. So, my New Year’s wish to you is that you set a new personal record in the Window-of-Opportunity Sprint beginning January 3 and that you never look back.

Enough said. It’s time to get down in the starting blocks and get on with it. On your mark . . . get set . . . GO!

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]

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