December can be a time of extremes. Hopefully, there are high highs: Moments when you can fully relax and enjoy time with all your favorite people. Delicious holiday food you only get once a year. A perfect (for you) New Year’s Eve. Depending on the nature of your business, December might be a fantastically lucrative time of year for you!  

And, of course, there are the low lows. The time crunch of getting everything wrapped up with your business before year-end. Maybe, anxiety about whether you’re going to reach your yearly sales targets or other business goals.

Money stress.

Family stress.

Travel stress.  

There’s just a ton to juggle at this time of year, and it’s all time sensitive. Your time management strategies are really put to the test right now.   

So if you’re feeling tense and overwhelmed at this very moment, first: take a beat right now to close your eyes, do some deep breathing, relax your shoulders, and settle into yourself.  

Next, hear me out… 

Despite the fact that your plate is probably already full, I want to suggest you prioritize goal-setting for next year, right now.  

Here’s my pitch for why it’s worth using your time management strategies to carve out some space in your packed schedule to work on your yearly goals now, instead of waiting until New Year’s or early January. In fact, I have several reasons! 

  • Setting goals that are specific, attainable and aligned with your most meaningful priorities might take time. Let’s say that today, you create a rough list of three or four top goals for next year. As you find yourself thinking about that list over the next few weeks, you might realize you want to add, subtract or adjust. Starting early gives you time to ruminate on the question of “What do I *really* want next year to look like?”  
  • Once your goals are set for next year and you feel good about them, you can move forward knowing that you have some solid first steps in place when it’s time to shift back into work mode in January. You’ve started the work of planning for a productive, lucrative and personally fulfilling year ahead… so you can relax into a Christmas or winter break knowing you’re on top of things.  
  • December is a stressful time! When you approach the process of goal-setting using my tried-and-true strategy, it can actually be a feel-good activity that lets you tune out the chaos of your day, focus purely on yourself and your hopes, and daydream about what you’d like to make happen in your life over the next 12 months. Stress relief is great for everything from physical health to time management and productivity, so you practically owe yourself the gift of some goal planning during the craziness of late December! 

My Favorite Goal-Setting Trick For The New Year

The idea is simple: reflect on your successes from the past year, and build on them to create your goals for the next year. This strategy lets you approach goal-setting from an optimistic and energized mindset, and encourages you to create goals that are really going to feel personally and professionally meaningful to you.  

Think about the alternatives. You could put off thinking about next year’s goals until New Year’s, then settle on some kind of generic ideas at the last minute. Something like, “I’ll get healthier, I’ll get more clients and I’ll go to more conferences.” Well, you’re probably not deeply connected to those goals, and have no concrete plan for how to achieve them or what success really looks like. (What does “healthier” mean? How many new clients do you want to land, and what type of clients do you specifically want to get?) 

Maybe you’ve also approached goal setting from a mindset of defeat and self-recrimination in the past. “I failed to achieve X last year, so I guess I should try again to achieve that this year.” Or, “I’m really not good at Y, so I guess I should set a goal to get better at it.” 

My method is all about putting yourself into a positive mindset, building on what’s already going well, and giving yourself permission to create the goals that are going to be most meaningful for your life and your business. You’re going to actually enjoy thinking about the year ahead and feel excited about getting started on your new goals, rather than approaching goal-setting as a way of trying to fix problems or check off a task on New Year’s Eve.  

3 Steps for Optimistic Goal-Setting (and Enjoying the Process) 

  1. Get as comfortable as you can. Goal-setting doesn’t have to happen in a professional work environment. Put on flannel pajamas and crawl into bed with snacks, or take a bubble bath with relaxing music and candles, or head out on a winter hike with your dog—just get yourself into a physical and mental headspace of relaxation and self-care.  
  1. Review your wins and proudest moments from the past year. They can be big and small, personal and professional. What was the best compliment a client gave you? What was your favorite day at work this year? Were there new skills you learned or new challenges you took on and did well at? In short, what were the moments and experiences this year that you’d most like to experience again next year?   
  1. With those wins in mind, think about yourself a year from now. Assuming you work hard all year, try your best and have a good time management system in place, what do you want to be celebrating having accomplished this time next year? Build your goals around your answer to that question. Maybe you’re still riding high from landing that one huge consulting job in the spring. So this year you want to set a goal to get another job with that same client, and get referred to some of their clients. You can also think about what steps you could take to better position yourself to land that client and maybe even expand your services and raise your rate? Are there smaller goals you can create that will grow your skills and help to achieve your bigger goals?  

Need support with the time management piece of achieving your 2024 goals?  

I’m here to help you take control of your time and your schedule so you can actually prioritize the most important things. Ready to stop wasting time on things that don’t help you achieve your meaningful goals and create time management routines that actually consistently work for you? My Jump Start Your Productivity self-study program is designed to help you get immediate relief from the time management challenges that keep you being from your most productive version of yourself.  

The year-end special price expires soon, so if you’re ready to set yourself up for your most productive and personally fulfilling year yet, make sure to register by January 1st!

Get more information about Jump Start and register here. 

Be well,


Sarah Reiff-Hekking