A lot of people I know were happy to see the backside of 2017. But even with the enthusiasm for a new year in our pockets, it can be hard to find the motivation to kickstart our plans and projects as we head back to work this week and find ourselves facing the same day to day grind as before the holidays, as well as a backlog of vacation work and emails to catch up on.

Even though I know it’s coming every year, it still feels as if the new year sneaks up on me, and I’m never prepared with either resolutions or a “word of the year,” like it seems that so many other people are. I have my professional plan in place by mid-December, but finding a way to dive in with gusto can be challenging. So today, I’m bringing you three tips to kick off January with some grace. 

1. Don’t put too much pressure on it

January 1st is just a date on a calendar, but we can start over at any time. Just like Mondays are an arbitrary day to begin something new, so too is the start of the year. If you’re feeling like you don’t have everything together to hit refresh on the year on this January 2nd, you’re not alone. It may take a couple of days or weeks to ease into the new year, and that’s just fine. Give yourself some room to catch up with the work that’s at the top of your priority list, and use the rest of the time to either create your plans if you haven’t already, or find the mojo that you’re lacking. If you’re seeking inspiration, try changing up your routine and the thought leadership you typically seek out – read books in different genres, find new blog authors to check out, set up meetings with friends or colleagues for lunch or late afternoon coffee when you’d typically start to lose motivation, so you can talk about new things. Don’t schedule yourself too tightly, because the idea is to welcome some fresh ideas and enthusiasm into your day – I know this can be a challenge in and of itself, but even if you can just squeeze ten minutes into your afternoon, it’s worth a try. You’d be surprised at how much impact a simple afternoon walk outside can have on the pile of work sitting on your desk.

2. Use January as as restart

December can end up being pretty hectic, trying to finish everything we need to accomplish by the end of the year professionally, as well as filling our personal commitments as the holidays and new year approaches. So we may not have done the planning or reviewing that we had the best intentions of doing. If that’s the case, consider January to be your restart. Take the full month to identify the goals you’d like to set, and how you think you can best reach those. Put together your strategy and plan, and actually write it down – your goals can be for your practice, for business development, for raising your professional profile, etc. The key is to make them measurable, and to give some careful thought to the steps that you can take to achieve them. When you give yourself a little bit of room to start the planning process now, instead of feeling like you’re well behind, you’ll be more likely to add in some goals you’re excited about and have given some thought to, rather than just rehashing last year’s plan. If you need some assistance, use one of those lunches or coffees with a friend or colleague to discuss their goals and plans for 2018 to get your own creative juices flowing.

3. Look at what you did RIGHT in 2017

Resolutions tend to focus on what we want to change, what we don’t like about ourselves or our situations. But there’s plenty that we’re doing RIGHT and should be doing more of. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea that you should be throwing everything out and starting over, why not just forget all of that for a moment? Instead, review the last year and look at the things that worked well for you – what time management skills were effective? What networking tactics did you employ that reaped positive results? How did you stay on top of your business development efforts? What were some ways that you connected well with colleagues that resulted in collaboration? Give yourself a pat on the back for the things that went right in 2017, and continue to do those things. It’s tempting to want to add more and more to the list of things we should be doing, but once in a while, we should sit back and reflect on what is working well, and focus on repeating successful efforts.

Whether we ever find our 2018 “word of the year” or just keep doing the same things we were last year, I hope that we can all welcome in some space for growth, laughter, collaboration, and learning in 2018!