The Complete New Year's Checklist

 Photo by  Ashley Knedler  on  Unsplash

Planning frenzy! Last minute Christmas shopping! Keeping it all together, oh my! 

With enough people telling you how to set goals, what accessories you will need in 2018 (queue eye roll), and the overwhelming quickness of the holiday season, I've put together a concise and comprehensive checklist that even only half completed will set you up for a killer 2018. 

Close out the current year

  • Do an end-of-year assessment of your paper piles, digital hordes, email inbox, and to-do list. If they're too big to think about now, schedule at least 2 - 3 hours in the next four weeks to process, complete, and clear out those areas to make room for 2018. 
    • I use Unroll Me to clean out my inbox and roll-up all the newsletters I love/hate to receive into a single daily dispatch, keeping my distractions (and clutter) to a minimum.
    • Schedule or cancel those stubborn to-do list items! Is it a goal for next year? Is it even a priority anymore? 
  • Get your financials + taxes ready to file. Services like mint.com and Turbo Tax are my go-to for personal financial analytics and personal tax filing - even for my photography LLC. Get yourself ready to receive W2 forms and other tax documents for quick + easy filing at the first of the year.
  • Apply or renew your health insurance. In the USA, it's imperative to complete your health insurance enrollment or renewal by December 15. Don't put it off! 
  • After reviewing your personal finances, create your 2018 budget. Be sure to include the basics:
    • Home expenses: Mortgage/rent, utilities, staples, repair and upgrades, services
    • Transportation: Car, public transportation, insurance, fuel, maintenance
    • Food, pets, and incidental food expenses for potlucks and gift cookies! 
    • Personal expenses: Purchases, entertainment, personal care
    • Savings + emergency
    • Debt repayment
  • Complete a "Year in Review" and celebrate yourself. Take a couple hours to go through your year. Think back to the major moments. Revisit your social media posts and journal entries. Look through your calendar at what was on your schedule back in March or June. Write it all down. It can be messy or structured - but let it be as comprehensive as possible. Celebrate it - and ask yourself as you plan your upcoming year: 
    • What did I truly enjoy? What brought me happiness and nurturing? 
    • What would I want to continue or do again? 
    • What didn't work for me? What left me feeling tired, drained, or unhappy? 
    • Where was I spontaneous? Where did planning pay off? 
    • Why did I do [this] and how did I do [that]? 
    • What's missing? What do I wish I had done or tried? 

Create your 2018 systems

  • Purchase a planner or calendar. Choose one that fits your needs, as many include sections for goals, meal planning, daily inspiration or journalling, to-do lists, and much more.
  • Set up your digital calendar on your smartphone or computer. Creating reminders for appointments and standing "protected time" will help you stick to your priorities, even when you're overwhelmed!  
  • Assess what felt haphazard, what was oft forgotten, and what you wished you would've implemented in 2017 and set up what you need to make it happen! Have you been lax with meal planning? What about spending more time playing with your dog? Check out apps and accountability opportunities to keep you on track. 

Set up your new year schedule

  • Schedule important appointments:
    • Doctor, dentist, optometrist, chiropractor
    • Veterinarian, doggie daycare
    • Continuing education classes or application deadlines
    • Oil changes, auto servicing
    • Home cleaning and servicing (air conditioning, carpets, attic, air filters)
  • Schedule self-care appointments:
    • Massage, facial, haircut
    • Health cleanse, personal training, nutritionist
  • Input important dates into your calendar. Some of these might include: birthdays, death days, anniversaries, yearly traditions or gatherings, events for which you already have tickets or reservations, travel, days to remember, and commitments. Bonus activity: schedule the actions you'll need to take ahead of each event to make sure you're ready. For example: purchase birthday present, mail anniversary card, pack for travel. 

Create a 2018 "shopping list"

  • What have you been putting off purchasing? A proper pair of warm hiking socks, a throw blanket for the den, that reusable coffee filter. Go through your wish lists, your home, and your wardrobe to see what's noticeably missing. Make a list and spread your purchases out accordingly all year. Your budget and your patience will thank you! 
  • Assess the big purchases you want to make this year and factor them into your budget. Consider what you year would be like if you didn't make any large purchases beyond what you set out to make. Reduce impulse, increase savings! 
  • Consider subscribing to your staples and repeat purchases on Amazon or other subscription service. If you know you receive pet food, supplements, toilet paper, and toothpaste each month - automate it! Let those items show up at your door and streamline what you have to "remember" to buy. 

Optional activity: Write a letter to yourself, sealed and to-be-opened on December 31, 2018. 

For your benefit or bemusement, here's my letter to future Amelia: 

Dear Amelia of 2018,

When you wrote this you were sitting at Third Creek Coffee in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was bright and cold and you woke up with a surge of confidence this morning that's practically unreal. I hope you have that even more now that you ever have. Know that in 2017, you were a force of nature. Life was moving fast but you endeavored to go slowly. You shared vigorously and sometimes too much - but to be cracked wide open and unsure of how you would be received was the name of the game. You dove headfirst. 

I hope you create space in your heart to let people in - really in. I hope that this year, you felt more love and more trust that you ever have. I hope you see loyalty and steadfast commitment in a higher regard because as we write this - no, I don't know what tense this should be written it (learn that!) - you're still riding solo and not letting yourself rely on others as much as you could. 

Keep giving, freely and completely. Keep forgiving, as healing takes time. Let those thoughts of the future and past tearing through your present pass by you like clouds - live more in the moment than you ever have. Amelia of 2018, I hope that you are graceful and patient, giving and strong, and I hope you are having the adventure of a lifetime. 

With all my love and gratitude,

Amelia of 2017. 

To my wonderful readers - have I missed anything? I want 2018 to be your best year yet and I'll be right there with you. 

What's your biggest pre-2018 activity that's going to set you up for success? Please share in the comments or on instagram, where the magic is happening!