As the end of another year rapidly approaches, it’s a natural time for reflection. People are starting to think about goals and New Year’s resolutions for next year. If you haven’t started thinking about those things yet, now’s a good time to start.  

Take some action on goal creation for next year before Christmas so you can spend that last week of December doing as much unwinding and refueling as possible. No one wants to spend the last few days of the year scrambling for resolutions or goals. You want to spend those days with loved ones or vegging out on the couch dreaming about New Year’s Eve snacks, not thinking big-picture thoughts about the year ahead. (And yes, you officially have a time management coach’s encouragement to spend an entire week doing absolutely nothing if you’re able to!) 

Goal Planning Prior to the Holidays

I also encourage you to start taking action on goal creation for next year before the holidays kick into gear because this time of year can be tough for a lot of people, for many reasons. Time management and productivity are challenging enough in December, to say nothing of the emotional and financial stress of the holiday season. Don’t add to any struggles you might be navigating this year by piling extra stress on yourself about next year’s goals. 

I know that’s exactly what happens to a lot of people when they start thinking about New Year’s resolutions or goals for the year ahead. They start thinking about the goals they had set for this year that didn’t get done. For a lot of people, going down that road is probably going to add an extra heaping of regret, shame and other negative feelings to the holiday season. Not something I want for you, or anyone!  

Which brings me to my secret for creating goals in a way that feels energizing and actionable instead of stressful: 

Don’t beat yourself up for what didn’t go well this year—instead, approach goal setting from a place of celebrating your successes.  

Celebrating successes puts you in the mindset to think positively about where you want to go from here, instead of focusing on failures that have kept you from getting where you wanted to be in the past. It’s also a lot easier to bring openness and creativity to the goal setting process when you’re in a positive, optimistic mindset.  

3 Tips for Creating Goals from an Optimistic Place 

1 – Look back on what has gone really well this year.

Write out a literal list of specific accomplishments and successes. Give yourself credit for things big and small that you feel good about having gotten done this year. Then think about how you want to build on those successes and put those skills to work in the coming year. This is where keeping a “positive fuel folder” in your email pays off! If you don’t already have one, make one now and save any messages of praise, thanks and congratulations you receive to that folder so it’s all in one place when you need to reflect on all your wins.

2 – Try a thought exercise.

Imagine being in a place in your life where you know that you’ve done your best, worked hard and accomplished what you wanted to accomplish. Where are you? What does that place look like in your life? Framing goal creation this way helps you consider your full life instead of focusing on separate goals for work and your personal life that might not be in harmony with each other. It could also help you think about what you can realistically accomplish so you’re not setting yourself up for failure.

Setting an ambitious work goal that’s going to require you to put in extra time on nights and weekends is probably going to conflict with a goal to spend more time volunteering, for example. Thinking broadly about what a balanced, fulfilling life would look like for you in the future helps you get clear about what goals you can set for the year ahead that are aligned with that future.  

3 – Give yourself permission to let your goals evolve.

If you’re focused on the ways you didn’t meet this year’s goals, you might be tempted to scale back your aspirations for next year. The thinking becomes, “I couldn’t even accomplish what I set out to last year… how will I ever do it this year?” But when you approach goal setting from an optimistic place, that discouraging voice doesn’t get to speak. You can still set big, ambitious goals for the year ahead—while acknowledging to yourself that those objectives might have to change or even be dropped altogether as your life evolves, and that’s okay. Knowing that you’re going to give yourself grace if a stretch goal doesn’t work out gives you permission to let yourself try to accomplish it anyway.  

Setting goals that are aligned with your peak priorities will help you create the life you crave. It is a huge part of the time management and productivity puzzle. Being really clear about what’s most important to you and where you want your life to go allows you to schedule your time in ways that serve those peak priorities.  

Do you need support with creating meaningful goals? Or setting up time management and productivity habits to help you make progress on your goals? I’m here to help. One way I’ll be offering this kind of support next year is through my year long Time Mastery Program, starting each year on January 1st. If you’re determined to transform your life and finally take control of your time, this program might be for you.

Schedule a no-cost one-on-one Strategy Session so we can talk about whether Time Mastery is the right fit for you.  

Wishing you a joyful, peaceful holiday season! 


Sarah Reiff-Hekking