top of page

5 Easy Steps To Set Yourself Up For Success In The New Year

Written by: Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Since transitioning to coaching several years ago, one of the things I do with the people I coach is to help them complete the current year well and set themselves up well in the new year because often as adults lists start running our lives instead of us.

At the end of a year and enter a new one, we enter with optimism and possibilities before experiencing the overwhelm of day-to-day life and responsibilities that capture our rudder and take command of it.

If you follow these 5 steps, you will take the wheel of the ship and start commanding it again so you have success in the new year.

  1. Review the previous year and all you’ve done. Make up a list of at least 25 successes you had during the previous year. These successes don’t have to be work-related although they can be. They can be as wide-ranging as I paid my bills on time, I attended my child’s football game in September, I completed a project on time and within budget, I solved a particularly difficult problem, I took a vacation, anything that when you think about your year would represent something positive that you did during the year. Complete this list in one week. Feel free to message your list to me on LinkedIn and let’s celebrate your successes.

  2. The final few weeks of the year is the easiest time of the year to network and reconnect with people. Your assignment for week 2 to send a text, email, e-card, or greeting card to people from your past that says, “It feels like a hundred years since we were last in contact. I thought I would send a (text, email, ecard, Christmas, New Year’s, Channukkah) card to see how you and your family were and see if we might get caught up. Do you think you might have time in the next few weeks to (speak by phone or Zoom, have coffee, lunch, or dinner) and get re-connected? Follow up a few days later to start scheduling conversations. You never know when you can help someone from your past or if they can help you if you need or want professional or personal. Having your network in place is a precaution for you should something bad happen in the new year and a benefit for others. Start to do this as soon as you can in December.

  3. Many adults lose control of their spending and start buying everything they want as well as everything they need. The bill arrives later and they wonder where their money has gone. In week 3, take at least two weeks and record everything you spend money on in an app of your choice or a small notebook. Don’t make anything changes in your behavior. If you purchase a $5 cup of coffee twice daily, just record it. If you go out for beers or a few glasses of win with friends at the end of the day, record it. Do the same thing with any expenses you incur from reconnecting with people from your past. Do the same with every expense you would normally incur including those automatically billed to your credit card or bank account. After two weeks, start noticing the items that seem like a waste of money to you. Could you change from 2 $5 coffees to one? Could you switch from 2 $5 coffees to 2 of a smaller size or one more expensive specialty coffee and save money that way? Could you change from 3 beers and glasses of wine and choose to limit yourself to two or one or a seltzer with lemon? Cut some of the fat out of your spending proactively when it is voluntary and save your money in case you need it for an expense later, lose your job, or for any other reason where might be forced to make a change later.

  4. In week four, create a list of 25 things you want to accomplish in the new year personally and professionally. They can be anything that is important to you. They can include taking time with your family every week, returning to school to get that degree or learning a new skill, or losing 10 pounds. Make a list of anything that would be meaningful to you in the new year.

  5. The fifth step and your assignment for week 5 is to look at the list of 25 things you want to accomplish and make a new list of the top 5 things from that list. Make a heading that says ‘Things to Do in the New Year.” Make up a second list of the other 20 items with the heading, “Things to Avoid in the New Year.” Keeping your focus on 5 things for a year is achievable. Trying to consciously accomplish 25 is much harder. After all, a dog chasing a rabbit can catch the single rabbit it is chasing. A dog chasing two rabbits doesn’t catch any. I think you can do more than one thing, just not 25. Other ideas will have a way of creeping onto your list but always returning to your top 5 priorities will help ground you and bring your attention back to a personal priority.

Being successful personally and professionally is hard. A lifetime is not a long time. We like to think of ourselves as being immortal and act as though we are, too. Time runs out on all of us. Following this end-of-year model will remind you of things you’ve done well, reconnect with others and point your compass ahead in a direction of your choosing.

If you would like to hire me to guide you with this, schedule a paid session with me here.

Follow Jeff on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or visit his website for more info! Read more from Jeff!


Jeff Altman, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter, is a career and leadership coach who helps people with their careers, including job search, hiring more effectively, managing and leading, and resolving workplace-related issues while being the person they want to be in life. He has written 9 books and guides to job search and hiring, including "The Ultimate Job Interview Framework" and "The Right Answers to Tough Interview Questions." He is the host of No BS Job Search Advice Radio, the #1 podcast in Apple Podcasts for job search with more than 2100 episodes, as well as on YouTube, Amazon, Roku, Apple TV, and 90+ smart sets. Jeff works with clients worldwide and is a popular speaker.


  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page