I love this time of the year. Sure, the festivities are great and people are extra social. But for me the best thing about December is the anticipation of the year to come. I get an adrenaline rush from thinking about new opportunities and how I can improve upon my experiences from the year I am completing.
Many don't consider the New Year until it has already begun. Then they spend the first few weeks trying to get organized and into a productive rhythm. I prefer to get a head start and gain competitive advantage. If you want to hit the boards running, here is a surefire approach to take before January 1st.
1. Revisit your successes and failures this past year.
Each year provides great learning opportunities. It would be nice to think you can remember all the wins and mistakes but it's likely that valuable learning was lost in the shuffle. Sit down with your calendar and review, taking stock of what worked well and what didn't. Then write down at least one good takeaway from each event.
2. Clean out your space.
It's tough to feel ready to go when surrounded by clutter. You certainly don't want to begin the year frustrated when you can't find important documents or items. Spend the week after Christmas organizing your work-space, living space and computer desktop. You will feel organized and ready to begin.
3. Get rid of excess.
Ok, I admit it. I am an acquirer. I don't belong on the Hoarders show, yet, but somehow stuff accumulates in my life and takes up space. Before heading into January it helps to inventory all the stuff in my life and get rid of everything I really don't need. The wife and dogs make the "keep" list for sure. The rest is negotiable.
4. Resolve outstanding work conflicts.
If you are going to have an awesome year, you don't need petty grievances getting in the way of your productivity. Seek out those who are disrupting your positive trajectory and find the common ground that helps you both succeed. Dump the grudge and work in the spirit of cooperation.
5. Resolve outstanding personal conflicts.
Troubling issues at home definitely have a negative impact on your success. This is as good a time as any to address that conflict head on. Family life does not have to be miserable. Get professional help if you need, change your relationship if required, but stop living in agony. Just fix it.
6. List three skills you want to improve.
Nobody is perfect and personal improvement can be deeply satisfying. Do a thoughtful self-assessment and figure out what simple changes will help you be the person you truly want to be. Then write them on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to work on them everyday.
7. Set a plan for one major objective.
If you could accomplish one major thing in 2016, what would it be? Now is the time to set out a clear plan to do just that. List the action steps, milestones, and resources required. Put it in an exciting presentation and go recruit the people to get it done. Then you can celebrate for sure next year at this time.
8. Create a Q1 to-do list
Creating your plan on Monday morning, January 4th will put you behind if you want to get the year on the right track. Use the holiday downtime to think how your activities will result in the most productive year ever. You can always adjust to meet changes but at least you start with a solid road map.
9. Contact people you want in your life next year
No one reaches the pinnacle of success on their own. It's possible you already have exactly the right people in your life to get you there, then again maybe not. Now is the time to take stock of those in your world and make the necessary changes. Get the email chain started today with at least 3 people who are going to help you excel next year.
10. Enjoy the rest of 2015
Yes I just gave you a lot of stuff to do in the next 2 weeks, but it's for the most part productive and fun. Prepping for a successful future should be enjoyable, exciting and energizing. Take part in the holiday season with the satisfaction that you will conquer the New Year with joy and confidence.