We’re in the home stretch for 2016!

fullsizerenderCan you believe it’s November? Seriously, where did the year go? Whether it’s hitting your sales quota or getting ready for the upcoming holiday season, now is the time to get super clear on your goals for the remainder of 2016. And maybe do a little prep for 2017.

Let’s talk about your professional life first. Take a look at the 2016 goals you set last Fall or in January. Where are you on these things? What’s completed? What still needs to be done before you close out 2016? Keep in mind that people will be taking time off around the holidays so don’t think you have until December 31st to get everything done. Set a deadline to have everything wrapped up by December 15th. If there’s a customer you’ve been trying to close, get a meeting set up next week. A deal or project you need to complete this year? Create a list of everything that needs to be done to make that happen. Then break that list in small, doable steps so you can actually complete everything. It’s crunch time boys and girls, let’s get this done!

This process will also help you prepare for your annual review. Documenting what you’ve accomplished and the impact your contribution has on the bottom line will help you position yourself for a raise or possibly a promotion. Don’t assume your boss remembers everything you did this year. S/he is busy getting ready for their review with their boss.

Let’s take a look at your personal life. Now would be a great time to talk to your accountant. Tax laws change every year so be sure you’re taking full advantage of any available benefits. Do you need to adjust your W4 or 401K? Any major changes in your life in 2016? What about your charitable contributions? If you have a flexible spending account, find out if you can carry over all or some of the balance to next year. If you can’t, get those appointments scheduled so you don’t lose any of your hard earned money.

This is also the time to look at the upcoming holiday season and set a budget for spending so you won’t be shocked by a huge credit card bill in December and January. It’s not just presents (more on this in a minute) that you need to budget for, you also need to consider your availability. You know there are going to be invitations to parties and dinners – which ones will you accept and which ones will you pass on?

Here are some things people tend to overlook during the holidays.

Time – Regardless of what is happening, there’s still only 24 hours in a day. How are you going to spend your time? Wouldn’t you like to enjoy the holiday season rather than just get through it?

Prioritize – Which events you will attend? That friend or relative you would love to see but won’t get to talk to at that noisy party. Schedule a lunch or dinner after the holidays where you can spend time actually catching up. What are the things that “must” be done now and what can wait? Pick the things and events that are important to you.

Wellness – The first thing that usually gets sacrificed during the holidays is sleep. Don’t let that happen this year. Sleep isn’t an option, it’s critical to your health. The second thing is exercise. That’s a huge mistake. Exercise, even if it’s walking 30 minutes every day, needs to be a priority. You’ll be eating and drinking more than usual not to mention being around a lot of people who might be sick and you’re like to have elevated stress so keeping your regular fitness routine could be difference between surviving the holidays with your physical and mental health in check or getting sick. If you’re anything like me, you might want to treat your workouts like an appointment and schedule them on your calendar. Yes, it’s that important!

Money – Spending money you don’t have causes serious stress not only on you but it can add stress to relationships. Here are a few money related tips.

  • Set a budget for gifts and entertaining, after your regular expenses are covered, and STICK TO IT!
    • Make a list of everyone you would like to give gifts to. Notice I said “you would like to give gifts to” not everyone you must give gifts to. Once you have the list, decide how much you’ll spend on each person. Remember, it really is the thought that counts.
    • If you have a large family see if the family would be open to picking names rather than buying for everyone. Or if your siblings all have families, consider buying one gift for each family.
    • Ask your friends about picking names too or better yet, plan to get together before or after the holidays where you give the gift(s) of your time and attention shared over good food and wine.
    • At work, if everyone exchanges gifts, definitely go with picking names/Secret Santa. You can also do a happy hour instead of exchanging gifts.
    • In addition to setting your own budget for the holidays, set a budget within each group so everyone knows the max spending amount. Yes, someone will go over and that’s ok but that someone doesn’t have to be you.

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