The year is winding down, and you know what that means: reflection. From performance reviews to team recaps, December is notorious for it. What went well this year? What could we improve? What did we learn? How did we grow?

It's equally as important to take the time to self reflect, which guides the changes you make to your career growth and goals in the new year. For me, it was another year of challenges. Another year of failures. Another year of wins. And another year of growth.

While I value the seasonality we fall into of reflection and goal-setting, I also believe in doing more of it, more often. Don't wait for the New Year's ball to drop to take action on your career goals for next year.

Start thinking today about ways you can accomplish those goals and succeed in 2019. Here are four ways you can get ahead, starting now:

Set effective goals (and go get them).

I love goal setting. I also love goal getting.

Many people are familiar with SMART goals -- goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. I often see people try to set six SMART goals and end up falling short on all six. They're much better off setting one solid, actionable goal and crafting a plan to tackle it.

Having too many goals to work towards can actually hurt your rate of success in achieving them. That's why focusing on one SMART goal helps you create concrete goals that aren't only effective, but achievable.

Did you know that you're 70 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you share them with someone or write them down? Yet only three in every 100 adults actually do. Personally, I'm a big believer in posting the goal somewhere you can't miss it -- whether it's at home as a Post-It, on your mirror while you brush your teeth, or changing your phone background so that every time you look you're reminded of it.

Life gets busy, schedules get crazy, so pick one goal you can really achieve and make it visible in your day-to-day life. The chances you'll achieve it will be significantly higher.

Ask for tough feedback.

At HubSpot, we love to quote author and management expert Ken Blanchard's famous saying that "feedback is the breakfast of champions." People tend to start the year fresh without reflecting on feedback on how they can improve.

For example, last year I got tough feedback on life-work fit on our team, so I've been actively working to ensure our team has time and space to relax and recharge. Rather than starting with a blank slate for 2019, I take time to reflect on how I've grown from the feedback I've been given over the past year -- doing so helps ensure that I'm thoughtful of the feedback others have given me throughout the year, and mindful of how I can use that to improve.

Similarly, I try to wrap up the year strong with feedback to my team. If you have constructive feedback to share with your colleagues or team, don't wait until next year to share it.

Take advantage of the holidays.

The holidays are a time for family, fun, and most importantly, relaxation. Once the craziness of those holiday parties and family gatherings has died down, make sure you take the time to relax, recharge, and unplug. Rest and reset your mind so you can better focus on those 2019 goals when you get back to the office on January 2.

That's why having actionable ways you can accomplish those goals now is so important. You want to give yourself the time to rebuild your energy and stamina as you head into 2019. It'll avoid burnout as you return to the office, and allow you to better focus your priorities with fresh eyes, and a clear perspective after taking the time to unplug and enjoy quality time with your loved ones, and yourself.

Flex your confidence.

To achieve your goals, you have to have the confidence to go after them. And, confidence is built on accomplishment. The more sub-goals you achieve, the better you'll feel about your progress and ability to reach those five-year plans.

Don't be afraid to take risks, stand up for yourself, and challenge the status quo. If one of your goals is to get better at public speaking, try taking an improv comedy class to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Have a crazy idea for your next marketing campaign? Shoot a Slack or email to your manager about it.

Don't be afraid to fail. In fact, celebrate your failures. Because without failure, you won't find success. So go out there, take action on your goals, and make 2019 your best year yet.

Published on: Dec 19, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.