Preparing for a productive New Year

Top tips from work and lifestyle blogger Louise Matthews


“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us” – Hal Borland


So once again another December commences and with its end 2014 will have passed as quickly as it began. The dawning of another New Year brings with it many a New Year resolution. The resolve to stop doing something we feel or we know that we should give up. Spending, drinking, eating too much, moving too little being the most common, plus many other plans, ideas and good intentions.

Though made with the most genuine of resolves, many of these aims – both in work and in life – begin to fail as the somewhat dark and cold month of January (well, in the UK at least!) draws on. The best laid plans fall by the wayside and we’re often left feeling as if we’ve failed before we’ve even begun.

Why do we begin the year setting ourselves up for disappointment?

Understandably a New Year brings a sense of renewal and turning over a new leaf but truthfully, the 1st of January is just a day like any other. Instead of expecting so much of yourself and being disappointed when it doesn’t work out, why not, as the quote above says, look at the start of 2015 as your chance to keep moving onward. Build good habits and continue to learn about who you are and where you are heading.

Start now! Take a moment to reflect and prepare so that you’re ready and waiting for January without it creeping up on you and flooring you at the first hurdle. Use December as a welcome period of reflection, understanding and renewal. We will all have achieved successes and will all have suffered failures in the past 12 months. It’s how we learn and assess these events that will determine what happens as we push forward. With that in mind, here are some things to think about throughout December – ideas to help you continue to move ahead mindfully when 2015 dawns!



1. Who or what was your biggest inspiration of 2014 and what did they teach you?

As humans we naturally look to each other for ideas and inspiration. Identifying who has been a strong mentor for you and understanding what you have learned from them can be a really positive learning curve. It doesn’t have to be some snazzy movie star or superstar singer. In fact the very best mentors can be found in family, friends and colleagues. Who inspires you and how can you use that inspiration to enhance yourself either at work or just in day-to-day life? There may be a number of people who have given you good advice and direction this year. With grace, what can you take forward from this inspiration?

2. How can you continue to put what you’ve learned over the past year to good practice?

We are all learning all the time, whether that be actual classroom, textbook, course-taking type of learning or from experiencing life in general and the tests that it often brings. If you’ve picked up a particular new skill this year, how will you make best use of this in 2015? If something in life has taught you an important lesson then how will you make sure you continue to implement this lesson going forward?

3. List at least three things you are thankful for from 2014. What skills and experience can you take forward from them?

I met someone recently who starts every day by writing down three things they are thankful for before they get up. What a great and noble idea, encouraging yourself to think about what you have instead of what you don’t have on a regular basis. Now you don’t necessarily need to start doing this, but do sit back and think about 2014 with an honest heart. Even if you feel it hasn’t been a great year there will still be something that has made you laugh, or made you happy or grateful along the way. Make a note and think about what these successes or happy moments have given you.

4. Of the things that didn’t go to plan, what can you learn and do differently for next time?

Failure is a natural part of life. Ever heard the saying ‘Fail Again, Fail Better’ by Samuel Beckett? It’s how we handle failure that’s the most important thing. It may be hard to look back at things that didn’t work out and it’s very important to leave the past behind and move forward. However, first assess what this failure has taught you and how you managed to turn things around. More often than not you will be surprised at your own powers of resilience. You can often take a lot of positives out of what might have at the time seemed like an almighty mess!

5. What do you feel you wasted time on and what has this taught you?

Time is very important commodity and a currency we all seem to be running very short of in this day and age. Take a look at how you spent your time in 2014, especially in your working life. Be honest with yourself. Was all of it absolutely compulsory and productive? We all do things because we feel we should, or because we want to please and impress but quite often these are not the most productive or useful of activities. How can you regain valuable time in 2015 and what can you learn from time wasted in 2014?

6. How can you make a significant contribution to your career and your lifestyle in 2015? What are the exciting lessons and adventures to embrace?

Once all of the above has been looked at and reviewed, lessons learned and onward actions identified, it’s time to file the past well and truly away and look ahead to the future. What are the exciting things coming up in the next few months? What is it that you can’t wait to learn? What will be your biggest but most exciting challenges and how will you get the most out of every opportunity that comes your way? Don’t give up on optimism, use your imagination to re-spark your goals, and look forward without regret in the year that is now almost on your doorstep!


In the madness of the busy festive season, make some time to think about these points. Spring (well, winter) clean your mind so that on the stroke of midnight on the 31st of December you feel ready to embrace the New Year with a clear mind (hangover permitting) and a fresh approach. Don’t pile pressure on yourself – just allow yourself space to grow. Concentrate on building better habits and don’t punish yourself for the odd trip up along the way.

Seasons greetings all and best wishes for a focused and happy 2015!



LinkedInCredit and thanks for this post to the brilliant Louise Matthews, who runs the work and lifestyle blog ‘The What Now Blog’. Visit the 2015 UK Blog Awards-nominated site for more of Louise’s ideas, insights and interviews with a wide range of careerists.

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