As we get closer to the holiday season and the end of the year, sometimes a sense of melancholy starts to set in. 

A case of the “end-of-year blues” often hits us when we feel like we haven’t hit our goals for the year. People are left feeling like they should have done more, seen more, and achieved more.

Just like you, I also face these sorts of mental conundrums, but instead of letting it bring me down, I look at it as an opportunity.

What Happened to My 2021 Goals

Let’s step in the way back machine for a second to Mike at the end of 2020. This year sent everyone through a whirlwind, at least. So many of us went into 2021 with big goals to make up for what seemed like lost time or to at least get out of the house. 

When I was setting my 2021 goals, I had no idea that my incredible wife Lindsay would be on bedrest through much of her pregnancy, or that my son James would make an early appearance into the world. This meant that much of our 2021 was spent in the hospital, on James’ long journey home. 

As you might imagine, a whole lot of my 2021 goals had to be pushed to the backburner. Did I feel defeated that I wasn’t able to set those goals? Absolutely not. For one, I was able to spend that time doing what matters most – being with my family. 

Do I feel like I was set back by not reaching my goals? Again, no. Despite everything that was going on, I continued to work aggressively towards those goals, and do what I could to reach them. 

One of the biggest tools I gave myself was shifting my focus from the outcome to the process.

Shift Your Focus

Instead of beating myself up for not achieving what I hoped to achieve, I changed my perspective.

As important as discipline is, we can’t go back in time and change things, all we can do is move forward. Instead of focusing on the outcome that I did, or didn’t achieve, I reflected on what the process was like.

What did I learn from this year?

In what ways did I grow this year?

What would I like to do differently moving forward?

Getting clear on your process helps you zoom in and figure out what to do next so that you can reach your goals. You can do this by focusing on actions that produce results, and reflecting on who you become in the process. 

Life is made up of many tiny moments. What you do each day matters. What actions have you taken this year that have helped you get to where you are now? Even if it’s not where you hoped you’d be a year ago.

How to Move Forward

So how do we balance the desire to achieve our goals yet also be gentle with ourselves? 

Do we strive harder to sprint to the finish line?

When should we instead start focusing on acceptance? 

I have three big tips that will help you navigate the end-of-year blues, and help you answer these questions.

  1. Create Your Own Timeline: The New Year is somewhat arbitrary, especially if you have your own business and can set the tone for your calendar. So if you feel defeated, or like you should have done more this year, you can try creating your own timeline.

    Instead of using the new year as a starting point, try picking another meaningful date as a time for when you’d like to reach a new set of goals. It could be your birthday, the anniversary of your business, or an important date around sales and marketing. 

    This can take the pressure off the end of the year but still pushes you to reach those goals at a reasonable time. 
  1. Plan for Next Year: Whether or not you try creating your own timeline, you can still start planning for next year. Start by setting your goals, and marking important dates that you want to have achieved certain milestones by. What smaller steps will you take between these dates to help you reach those milestones?

    It helps to set practical goals, but also dream big about things that you would love to do, even if you’re not quite sure how you’ll do them yet.
  1. Celebrate Your Wins: This might be the most important tip. Don’t forget to celebrate your wins! You lived another whole year, and I’m sure you’ve done plenty of things to be proud of. 

    Don’t get so caught up in what you didn’t do that you forget to congratulate yourself for what you did do. You deserve more than a pat on the back for how hard you worked this year.