With only a couple of days to go until the start of another new year, many of us have already decided we’re going to enjoy what’s left of 2023 and start afresh in January when, once again, we’ll rekindle our goals for 2024, telling ourselves we’ll do a triathlon, learn Spanish, lose three stone or write a screenplay.
Yet experts say that by putting our resolutions on a backburner, even at this late stage of the year, we’re wasting valuable time which could be used to not only tie up loose ends from 2023, but also set us up nicely for the new year.
Instead, they urge us to end the year strong and get closure on this year so we go forward to the next 12 months with a much more positive mind set.
Performance coach Phil Olley, who has written three self-development books, explains we’re wasting time and using the festive season as a distraction. ‘When we say we’re going to give up on our goals or resolutions for this year and start again in January, we’re procrastinating, but in a very comfortable way,’ he says. ‘We tell ourselves we’re not giving up, we’re just postponing.
‘But if we end the year well, and even manage to achieve something in the coming days, it will give our year a story and make us feel as if the last 12 months have been significant.
‘Just turning something round in the last week of the year, whether it’s stopping a bad habit, cleaning up our diet or finishing a work project, can change our entire view of 2023. And it will create a momentum that will make us feel brighter and more upbeat about the year ahead.’
Goals For 2024
So how can we gain closure on the year, tick off some goals from our long-forgotten list and feel hopeful about some new challenges and goals for 2024?
Tanya Dharamshi, a counselling psychologist at LightHouse Arabia in Dubai, urges us to reflect on the year that’s gone, and look at what worked and what didn’t go so well.
‘Be reflective on the past year, assess what was successful and look at what you did to achieve that success,’ she says.
‘Look at everything as a learning experience. Seeing even the small wins is encouraging and creates an element of desire to do more, to work a little harder and to reach for the next win.’
So while we know it’s easy to get lost in shopping for loved ones, and planning your travel and plans over the festive period, take some time to end the year in a strong position.
Phil Olley says we should adopt his APR policy – which stands for Achievement, Performance and Regime – and is, he says, the blueprint for success.
Start or Finish a Project This Month
‘Look at the remaining days, and ask yourself what one project would you love to start or finish, that would be a breakthrough for you this year?
‘You might want to finish a book, or write the first few pages, a chapter, or take part in a 5km run. Just doing that one thing would give you a feeling of accomplishment, heighten your sense of ability and lift your spirits. It would also remove all guilt about having wasted this year, if you feel that’s what you have done, as you’ll have already started working on your goals for 2024.’
For the next stage – Performance – Phil suggests we examine our roles to see where we could perform better.
Improve Your Performance
‘If you manage a team, you may want to look at where you can be a better leader or a better communicator, or be better at running meetings,’ he says.
‘If you’re a parent, have a good look at how much time you spend with your children, for example, and if you feel it could be more, or better spent, plan to get home from work earlier, or put aside some time at the weekend for your children.
‘You might want to improve your time effectiveness and have a daily action plan for the start of every day so you’re more productive.’
For the final part, Phil urges us to look at our regime, and bring a resolution forward – starting in these dying days of December so you’re already working on your goals for 2024.
‘It takes four weeks to start a new habit, so why not begin now?’ asks Phil. ‘If one of your resolutions is to drink two litres of water a day, go to the gym or eat more vegetables from January , start now. That way, come New Year’s Day, you’ll be on your way to cracking that one.
‘You may start writing a gratitude journal every day, and end each entry with three things you’re grateful for. It’s a good way to finish the year off self-aware, and you will have a stronger sense of yourself.
‘Or you may send a note to a different person every day, thanking them for the role they played in your year. This is a great way to spread goodwill.’
Because we want to start the new year fresh so that we can start working on our goals for 2024, Phil suggests we also use the last few days of the year to sort out our homes and work places, whether that means paying all invoices and credit cards, getting our filing done, sorting through piles of clutter or recycling our wardrobes.
‘Sort through the children’s toys and give them to a hospice or hospital, and clear your Inbox of emails. Go round your home instilling some order,’ he says. ‘That way, you’ll go into next year in a positive frame of mind, keen to move forward, rather than being held back by the past.’
But if all this clearing and sorting doesn’t sound like the kind of pleasure-filled week you had in mind, Phil insists we factor in some fun too.
‘Do something you’ve never done before,’ he says. ‘Go ice skating, trampolining or ski-ing. If you’ve always loved pop music, go to the opera.
‘If you always eat at the same places, try somewhere different. Visit a new city or try a spa day at the newest hotel. If you love animals, volunteer at a sanctuary.
‘Shaking things up a bit shows you have control over your life. It will keep it all fresh and exciting so when the clock strikes midnight at New Year, you’ll know 2023 was good, but 2024 will be even better!’