The New York Post – December 24, 2016
By Vicki Salemi
The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day means one thing: checking off the final items on your end-of-year to-do list.
Whether you’re taking a few personal days away from the office or are sitting at your desk enjoying a light workload, make sure you take care of these five tasks before 2017 hits.
De-clutter your desk
Eliminating papers and trashing old hot-chocolate packets and scribbled Post-it notes won’t just clear up space — you’ll gain more focus and clarity, too. Old items, even unread e-mails sitting in your inbox, can keep you stuck in the past and prevent you from pursuing future goals and plans.
“Time and again, we’ve found that the happiest people wake up every day to clear-cut short-term and long-term goals, and they need to involve pursuing meaningful, purposeful goals.”
– Caroline Adams Miller, career coach
“While this task may seem insignificant, reducing the clutter can actually create energy and allow people to focus forward rather than backward,” notes Marsha Egan, a productivity and leadership coach and author of “Inbox Detox and the Habit of E-mail Excellence.”
Revise your resume
Since opportunities may emerge when you’re not even looking, having a sparkling, current resume at the ready will have you prepared for any scenario. Keep it updated with your latest achievements from the past year and add any newly acquired skills.
John Brubaker, productivity expert and author of “Seeds of Success: Leadership, Legacy, and Life Lessons Learned,” points out that you’ll have it available to share throughout the year at a moment’s notice. “It’s better and easier to stay ready than to get ready,” he says.
Get your taxes in order
“With the expected changes to the tax rates in 2017 [they should be lower], it is crucial to do proper tax planning in 2016,” notes Leonard C. Green, chairman and founder of accountancy, tax, consulting and advisory firm the Green Group, in Woodbridge, NJ.
Green suggests using a folder to house your W-2, 1099s and relevant documents — call it “Year-End Info for 2016” and start gathering things such as 2016 medical bills and business-expense receipts now.
If you owe taxes, he recommends paying estimated taxes to avoid penalties and interest charges, maximizing pension deductions, and speaking to a stockbroker to see what moves you can make now to reduce your taxes.
Another item on your to-do list? Make charitable contributions. Melissa Anderson, president of Public Good, an online-donation platform and social network, recommends getting involved with causes that matter to you. Says Anderson: “It also provides a tax deduction for your 2016 return — a win-win.”
Set new goals
“Time and again, we’ve found that the happiest people wake up every day to clear-cut short-term and long-term goals, and they need to involve pursuing meaningful, purposeful goals,” says Caroline Adams Miller, a career coach and author of “Creating Your Best Life.”
But go beyond realistic milestones, says Brubaker. Think big and unrealistically instead. “Our goals should be so big others [will] think we are delusional, and so big they actually scare us a little. That’s how we know we are pushing our comfort zone to grow.”
He recommends setting goals and enlisting accountability partners via. In August, Brubaker set a goal of losing 25 pounds by Christmas. If a week passed without him sending a screenshot of his weight to his accountability partner, the site charged his credit card $25. Career-oriented goals could include sending out a certain number of resumes per week if you want a new job, or clearing out your inbox each week if you want to be more organized.
Plan a vacation
Egan tells clients that if they’re looking to find time to do anything, they won’t. “Instead, make time — it gives you a much better chance of achieving whatever goal you’re setting.”
And making time to plan a vacation isn’t only important — it’s also a lot of fun.
Says Egan, “If you are not intentional about setting aside what you need to take a vacation — time, money, travel, rentals — the year can zip by without you ever taking that much-needed vacation.”
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