Ringing in the New Year with Focus


Can you believe there are less than five weeks left in 2023?

The hours are ticking away and soon we’ll be celebrating the start of a brand-new year. For many, this time of reflection sparks feeling overwhelmed, panicked, and guilty about not yet achieving year-end goals.

It’s easy to get caught up in the frenzy of the season. But you don’t need to ring in 2024 feeling stressed.

Instead of scrambling to finish yearly goals before the ball drops, follow these five easy steps:


Step 1: Clear your calendar

Take a good, hard look at your calendar for the rest of the year. Reclaim time to achieve your goals by identifying anything in your professional or personal life that can be:

  • Reduced – Can that one-hour meeting be shortened to 30 minutes? Could your business trip be tackled via Zoom? Do you need to conduct additional research, or do you already know enough to get started? Find ways to shorten or reduce the amount of time needed to meet the objective.
  • Delegated – What’s on your plate that – with a little training – could be easily handled by someone else? I bet there are people in your organization who would welcome the opportunity to learn and build new skills. Don’t forget about what can be delegated in your personal life. Think house cleaners, snow shovelers, and caterers. I once hired some neighborhood teenagers to wrap all my Christmas presents. I spent an hour prepping and saved 8 hours of wrapping!
  • Postponed – Does it really need to happen in 2023? Or can it move to 2024? If it’s not a top priority (see next tip) and isn’t required (attending your kid’s band concert), I bet you can reschedule it.
  • Grouped – Sometimes we feel so busy because the stuff on our calendar is spread out throughout the day or week. Think about ways you could group together similar activities, freeing up larger chunks of time in your calendar. For example, reschedule your meetings to all be in the morning, so that you have the afternoon to focus on an important project.
  • Eliminated – Does it need to happen at all? Often, we engage in activities out of habit. It’s the way it’s always been done. From bureaucratic processes to attending your cousin’s annual ornament exchange party, do you really need it?

Step 2 – Pick your priorities

Now that you’ve freed up some time, spend an hour identifying your top priorities. These could be personal (schedule all those doctor appointments you’ve been meaning to schedule), professional (decide if you want to convert your foundation to a donor-advised fund), or both.

Right now, some of my coaching clients’ top priorities include: deciding whether and how to sunset the foundation, planning an international learning trip, developing their foundation’s 2024 strategy, and creating an executive transition plan.

What are the most important things you want to accomplish in the next month, quarter, or year? Write them down and put them somewhere you will see them regularly.

Step 3 – Block time in your calendar to focus on top priorities

Got your priorities? Awesome! Now open up your calendar and schedule time for them. Even if it’s just a few hours a week to start. You don’t yet need to know how you will spend this time, just schedule it. Consistency moves the needle. What gets scheduled gets done.

Map when and how you’ll take action on each priority in the weeks ahead. This will allow you to achieve your goals more rapidly

Step 4 – Create a punch list for each priority

You can start by making a list of the top 3—10 things that need to happen next in order to accomplish each priority. This can be as simple as “Make a list of every doctor appointment to schedule,” “Google and read articles about the pros and cons of foundations vs donor-advised funds,” and “Hire an executive coach.”

When my husband and I contemplated buying a new home, the task seemed daunting. But when I limited myself to three activities to do next, it was easy: Look at houses for sale online, go to open houses, and talk to a realtor. Those weren’t the only things that needed to happen. But making a list of immediate next steps gave us the momentum we needed to take action.

Step 5 – Take action

Speaking of which, begin acting on your next steps. Remember, you’ve blocked out time on your calendar for your top priorities. Use that time to tackle your punch list. By focusing your effort and energy, you’ll make consistent progress on what’s most important.

As current priorities are met, identify new ones! Taking action on top priorities will propel you to achieve your goals. This focus fuels momentum to ring in 2024 feeling focused and accomplished.

Remember, you don’t need to do this alone! If you need support clarifying priorities or creating an action plan, I’m here to help. Reach out anytime to schedule a call.

I also want to take this time to invite foundation CEOs and trustees to my free, 90-minute guided workshop to help you minimize strategic friction and help you find your fast path toward making the greatest impact. Learn more about it and register here.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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