The champagne corks have all been popped, the party decorations have been put away, and it is back to work. For many of us, January is a time of renewed optimism, but also of self-reflection. What do we want to achieve this coming year? What changes do we want to make? As we ponder making 2024 our best year yet, I have compiled some tips from fellow ASJA members on how to get the year off to a flying start. Here’s to a successful 2024, in whatever form that takes for you.
Hopefully you’ve used some of the recent holiday period to enjoy a rest, yes? Publications Chair Michelle Rafter says:
The no. 1 thing I do to get ready for the new year – is take time off at the end of the old one. I’ve worked through the holidays a few times and started January feeling cheated, and tired. No more. Even if we don’t go anywhere – and we usually don’t – I’m on vacation. I sleep in, read A LOT, see movies, eat well, and enjoy being with family and friends. If I walk into my office, it’s to declutter and change my bulletin/mood board, so I have different images to stare at when I’m writing.
We all know the importance of downtime but it’s not always easy to practice what we preach. Luckily, the end of year holiday season provides the ideal time for a rest from work, whether it’s because family are visiting or that all of our editors are on break. Use the time to read, sleep, go for long hikes, whatever helps you to relax and rejuvenate.
You didn’t rest? Perhaps those visiting family members kept you busier than ever. Then I suggest using at least the first week of January to do so. Your body, mind, and business will all thank you for it.
I have a tendency to dive headfirst into the new year without pausing to look back on the previous year’s successes and failures. Not this year. ASJA Vice-President Lisa Rabasca Roepe takes time each year to do a full review:
I spend several days analyzing the year—what went well, what didn’t. I count up the hours I worked & for which clients & compare it to last year as well as income. I rank my clients on 5 points—interesting assignments, ease to work with, pays well, pays quickly & wow factor of byline—and decide if I want to drop anyone. I try to think deeply about what I want to do more of & less of in the coming year. I set goals for the new year & reflect on them each month, tweaking if needed.
I love the idea of ranking on different criteria as it can really help you see the benefits (and drawbacks) of working with certain clients. Lisa adds that she also makes a list of three or four dream clients to pursue in the new year.
No, I’m not suggesting we all pull the bedcovers back over our heads. Jon Kauffman has a new year ritual that combines the previous two tips:
For the past two years I’ve taken myself on a two-day retreat at the Oregon Coast in January, where I have alternated hikes with no-distractions-allowed brainstorming, journaling about what I want to do during the coming year and listing practical goals or article pitches. (Some I follow through on, some I don’t.) The retreats helped me steer my way through a career change.
We may not all be able to escape to the Oregon Coast. To be fair, Jon’s retreat may be a little crowded if we do. But perhaps you can get away to a favorite nearby place for a day or two. If travel is off the cards, plan a retreat at home with some scheduled time to alternate brainstorming, journaling, planning, and so on.
You might have sent thank-you messages to clients in December. If not, January is the ideal time to reach out and say a quick hello. Rita Colorito suggests:
I usually get out “great working with you in 2023, hoping to work with you again in 2024” message early in December. And wish them a happy holiday. Then the come Jan. 8 or 9, give or take (when the kid is back in school) send out the “Happy New Year, as you’re determining budget for this year, please keep me in mind” kind of emails.
I had several key clients who had to cut back for financial reasons last year. I will definitely be following Rita’s advice of sending a quick note to remind them that I am here when things pick up for them.
Need More Tips?
What else can you do to kick off 2024? Why not try one or more of the following:
- Sign up for a webinar. A webinar or class might give you ideas about a new market, revive an interest in an old one, or hep you to develop new skills. ASJA has plenty of past webinar recordings available. Don’t forget the upcoming webinar on Artificial Intelligence, taking place on January 10th. There’s still time to sign up.
- Join an ASJA Virtual Coffee Chat. I have to shamefully admit that I have not yet joined one of these but it is on my schedule for 2024.
- Read an article on boosting your motivation. Find a new inspirational blog that you enjoy reading. Share new finds in the ASJA Facebook group so that others can also benefit.
So what are you waiting for? Make 2024 YOUR year to shine!