October is on and that signifies the start of the final quarter. If you do not have your oar in the water paddling furiously, it may be time to get an oar for each hand. And the harder you paddle, the harder it is to stay on course.

An insidious phenomenon kicks in under these circumstances. This one, described right here. “It is very easy to confuse activity with results when you’re under pressure”.

Did I mention staying on course? This presumes that you have a plan which lays out the direction you should be travelling in. In the privacy of that padded cell you call your mind, ask yourself this “Do I have a plan — for my business, or for my job as an employee — which gets me to exactly where I want to get to by December 31? And if I do, how am I doing so far? If I don’t, have I realised it too late?”

Alternatively, Own your space. Stand your ground. Rise Up!

Make the right things happen by building a cut-down, racing version of a plan which has three to five objectives that you can nail in the less than 90 days time until New Year’s Eve. Here are a few tips:

* The objectives should build on good work you’ve already done, but haven’t quantified;

* Go for max visibility. If you aren’t going to get much done, make sure all the right people know what you have done;

* Pick objectives big enough to matter and small enough to achieve;

* Update your accounts daily if you’re in your own business; and

* Watch for the slightest slip and react, and celebrate every step forward with those chewy sour sweets covered with sugar granules.

If you’re an employee or manager, update progress to the key influencers every two weeks. Make sure you advertise your efforts and results shamelessly.

If your business has a performance appraisal process, schedule a “last lap” meeting with your manager to get their buy-in on the objectives and direction you’re setting for yourself.

Get help from the people you need to impress. Get them on board Team You.

Volunteer for anything and everything. Your clients will give you business next year, and your colleagues will burn incense in your honour. Practise the art of “sprezzatura”, which is doing fiendishly complex things or racing round at a million miles an hour, but giving the appearance of being calm and in control. Like a swan gliding along, with its paddles thrashing below.

Some of these tips might sound self-serving, somehow scurrilously shady. They are. But so what!

No one will get hurt. And you will most certainly prosper. And take it from me as a seasoned pro (a euphemism for “well past the sell-by date”), “Old age and treachery will always beat youth and exuberance.”

Steve Ashby is CEO of Businessmentals.