The last few days of the year are for reflecting on our wins and challenges of the past 12 months. But they’re also a key time to look forward. That means thinking about what we want to leave behind (mental and physical clutter, perhaps), what we want to change about our lives (a new focus or deeper relationships), and what we’re most looking forward to in the coming year.

We asked the Thrive Global community to tell us the steps they’re taking to set themselves up for success in 2020, and the goals they hope to achieve by doing so. Which of these suggestions will you try?

Consider the three Rs

“Take a moment and think about the 3 Rs…Review what’s working and what isn’t. Readjust what may be great with a few tweaks. Release what is weighing you down or helping you to lose revenue (and that might be people on your team). Try it!”

—Judy Hoberman, keynote speaker, Dallas, TX

Set a theme for the year

“I’m not making New Year’s resolutions since we all know that they usually go down the drain by February! Instead, I’ve set a ‘theme’ for the year. My theme is ‘expansion and exploration.’ Expanding: new friends, rekindling old friendships, and learning, especially what makes us who we are and how we can change that for the better. I mean exploration in a physical sense, with more time in nature, visiting my bucket list destinations, but also getting to know myself better. This is my year to explore me, what I like and what I want to show up for in the world.”

—Hazel Mccallum, coach, hypnotherapist, practitioner and speaker, London, England

Reconnect with friends

“I realize that I’ve let some long-term, meaningful friendships slide away due to distance and time demands. There’s so much evidence about the importance of maintaining strong social relationships, and my own life is a testament to feeling the lack of connections: feeling alone leads to loneliness, which leads to negativity and feelings of depression. So, I’ve set up several phone conversations between now and the new year to rekindle those connections, with hopes of gaining momentum in 2020.”

—S. Brent Rodriguez-Plate, college professor, Clinton, NY

Create a vision board

“I’m letting go of the past year: the good, the bad, and the things I would have done differently. And I’m manifesting what I’d like to have happen in the new year by creating vision boards with ideas for decorating our new home, making health goals (as opposed to weight loss), and imagining how I’d like to show up in the world for all the people in my life are how I’m looking forward to all that’s to come.”

—Megan Garheart, corporate recruiter, Baltimore, MD

Plan dates to look forward to

“My husband and I spent time planning out six months of date nights, self-care days, and craft days (we make home decor for fun). We have three teens in our house, and between our weekly activities and theirs, we must put those ‘special’ days on the calendar so that they’re never forgotten or bypassed.”

—Desiree Townsend, client services, Longmont, CO

Unclutter your mental and physical space

“I clear mental and physical space to start the new year. I start with a week’s vacation for relaxation to fully enjoy the holidays and embrace them with warmth, not tension. After Christmas, and all the presents, food, and entertainment, I move into the the physical clearing of space. I use the last few days to enjoy the clearing of old or negative habits and/or collected things, and prepare both my mind and space for new things to come.”

—Nakeshia Nickerson, author, Beachwood, OH

Redefine success

“As a therapist, I get this question a lot. My answer is always the same: Let’s start by clearly defining success. If success is a number on a scoreboard, you’ll never be truly successful. It’s an unending game of distraction from an unending feeling of emptiness. So, what really is success? Success is about connection. I have never witnessed a person who came to my office or lay on their deathbed say, ‘I should have achieved more.’ But I have witnessed dozens say, ‘I wish I were more connected to…” So take the time this year to embrace the difficult spaces, have the hard conversations and open yourself up to connections more fully. That’s the only success worth achieving.”

—Robert Cox, licensed professional counselor, Richmond, MO

Recharge intellectually and physically

“Every year, my boyfriend and I take the entire week off between Christmas and New Year’s to recharge. We spend this time reading books, writing in our journals, doing online yoga classes, watching movies, taking long walks and talking about our hopes for the coming year. We purposely don’t overcommit ourselves to social activities. Some days, we barely even leave the house! It’s my favorite time of year because the two of us are alone together in our own little cocoon. So when the new year comes, we’re refreshed and ready!”

—Rebecca Kolinski, freelance writer/editor, Westlake, OH

Take a meaningful New Year’s Day walk

“This is my annual process to start every year with a clear focus and strong intentions: on January 1st, I go for a long walk by myself in the early afternoon to meditate on the coming year. When I come home, I get myself some coffee, and of course some chocolate. Then I do an exercise by Christine Kane to choose my word of the year. Finally, I make a vision board for the year and put it up on the bathroom mirror so I can see it whenever I brush my teeth!”

—Herdis Pala, HR leader, speaker, coach and consultant, Reykjavik, Iceland

Stoke your employees’ passions

“As a business owner of a company that employs professionals worldwide, the New Year’s resolutions I set for myself involve commitment to and enthusiasm for a whole team. That’s why the most important thing for me to do in these last few days of 2019 is to make sure all my employees are writing down their own goals and personal strategies, both for their department and for themselves within the company. I ask them to send them to me and print them so we can look at them again on June 1st, 2020, and once more by this time next year. I pride myself on offering each and every employee the opportunity for personal and professional growth — I think that their passion drives this company forward.”

—Sean Hopwood, CEO, Tampa, FL

Return to your “factory settings”

“My plan for 2020 is to return to factory settings. I travel too much, take too many supplements and herbal sleeping pills, have too many clothes, buy books and cosmetics before I have read and used the ones I own…and so on. So my plan for the next few days is to collate the books I haven’t read and the toiletries I haven’t used, audit my wardrobe (vigorously, rather than weeding out odds and sods), review my menu plans, and plan time for thought. During this process, I’ll review how I can weed out work distractions and create more opportunities for both myself and my team to shine, and plan ways to spend more focused, simple time with my family. I want to take things back to basics, and flourish from there.”

—Erika Clegg, communications agency co-founder, England

Give your mind a break

“As an entrepreneur, public speaker and volunteer, I work a lot in my dual roles throughout the year. For the last days of this year, I’m giving my mind a break — a mental shake, so to speak, and a much-needed rest away from the normal, day-to-day work rush. I won’t watch the news, but instead, I’ll catch up with friends and enjoy some me-time. When January 2nd rolls around, I know I will feel both refreshed and less stressed.”

—Jennefer Witter, entrepreneur, author, women and diversity advocate, public speaker, New York, NY

Reflect on your achievements

“I take two days without anyone around and read a list of my achievements for the year. I write them out every week so it’s easy to review in Notes on my iPhone. This sets you up for an incredible platform to then set up your 2020 goals. How much of what you achieved this year do you want to do next year? It allows you to flex up or flex down. Use simple buckets like relationships, professional, health, family, travel, adventure, creativity, financial, material and spiritual. There’s nothing like kickstarting a year with clarity and focus.”

—Josh Phegan, real estate agent, trainer, speaker, coach, Sydney, Australia

Be more, do less

“I’ll be doing more of what makes me happy, whatever makes my heart sing. Being more, doing less. I’m listening to audiobooks — my two favorites are The Seat of the Soul and Childhood Disrupted. They’re both really inspirational and provide deep clarity. I’m choosing to listen to audiobooks so I can be free to fully rest my eyes and keep my mind off of the electronics. I am praying more and upping my positive self talk. I’m getting clear on which two to three main points that I want to focus on for 2020. These focuses include what I love, what makes me happy and what will bring money my way so that I can live a better aligned life and enjoy the spirit of living fully on this planet! Lastly, I’ll be watching sunsets.”

—Kyriaki Chonacas, artist, New York, NY

Pick a word you’ll live by

“A great intention-setting exercise to prepare for 2020 is to select your Word of the Year. Write down why this is a great word for you this year. Then, list five to 10 things that you could create or attract if you lived this word daily. Based on your chosen word, list a few goals that you would like to accomplish this year, including one ‘big win.’ Now post your word somewhere you’ll see it everyday. I have mine pop-up on my phone calendar every morning at 9 AM.”

—Dr. Sharon Ufberg, coach, Hermosa Beach, CA

Build on what has worked well

“This year, I’m trying something different. Instead of spending my time creating big ‘stretch’ goals, tasks and action plans, I’m going to lean in and perfect the work I was doing already.  Every year, I usually spend time dreaming and planning, and then promptly throw those plans out the window. Or my inner rebel says, ‘you can’t tell me what to do,’ and I end up doing nothing. Next year, at least for the first quarter, I’m going to work on building my skills, connecting with my work and working deeper on the work I’ve started. This week is all about reviewing what worked well, what small changes I need to make and how I can build on the success I’ve already had.”

—Tanya Abdul Jalil, copywriting and content planning specialist, Melbourne, Australia

Give thanks, and plan vacations

“Clarity and focus are what I crave, so on New Year’s Eve, I’ll begin a physical purge of items in my home that no longer serve me. I’ll bring in the new year with a guided meditation, giving thanks to my successes and challenges, to lessons learned and not yet learned. My first task of the new year will be to plan my vacation schedule and mark them on my work computer.”

—Nicole Barton, lead software quality engineer, San Francisco, CA

Focus on the first 100 days

“I’m approaching 2020 like a new president — I’m focusing on the first one hundred days. In addition to a newly organised office and new stationery, I’m prioritising getting out of my comfort zone and continuing to embrace lifelong learning. The biggest thing I realised this year is that my goals need to be specific and measurable, with lots of little milestones. So for 2020, I’ve broken the big goals about health, photography, and writing into discrete daily habits and deliverables that are in my calendar with electronic reminders. To make it all a bit more fun, I’ve signed up for a single fitness challenge, daily writing prompts, and photography workshops to help me commit to learning and building habits with a broader community.”

—Nicole Condit Duncan, photographer, New Milton, UK

Make tiny improvements

“My goals are simple: be better than I was last year. Be better at working out, and by that I mean starting at all. Since I work at a desk, I need to move more at home — even if I came home and walked on the treadmill for 15 minutes per day, that would be a huge improvement to my daily routine and my heart health. I’m also working to get in a better dinner routine. Since the holidays have begun, we have been in a fast-paced mode and have eaten out way too much. We’ll save a ton of money and feel better after we eat, which is a double-bonus. I also want to read more. I’ve finally found an interest this activity again after graduating college and i’m excited to dig in.”

—Emily W., assistant project manager, Deford, MI

Be more present

“First, I make resolutions less stressful by calling them intentions instead. My main intention for this year (as it has been for the past few) is to ‘be present.’ This means to stop multitasking, be more conscious and aware and live in the moment. It helps make life less overwhelming, puts you in a calmer state and helps you see beauty in everyday things.”

—Verity Brown, empowerment coach, Blackpool, UK

Take stock of your footprint

“The new year is coinciding with a move to a new home, so I’m assessing every item before it goes into a box — to keep, donate, recycle, or trash? I’m trying to be more aware of my environmental footprint than ever. These clothing and furniture donations bring me joy — they’re strong steps in that direction.”

—Tracy LaPorte, program manager, Alexandria, VA

Revel in the possibilities

“Rilke exhorts us: ‘And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been…’ In these last days of this year, I’m envisioning some of the things that have never been, but things that I can actually make happen with both belief and action.”

—Dr. Marlene Caroselli, author, Pittsford, NY

Be yourself

“I only have one strategy: being myself.”

—Siobhan Kukolic, author, writer and motivational speaker, Toronto, Canada

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.