The holiday season is coming and it’s tempting to take your foot off the gas and cruise towards the year’s end. Dreaming of a break, closing down the practice and enjoying time for yourself and your family.

And while I advocate holidays – like a runner you need to run through the tape and not slow down before the line. Utilise these last few weeks wisely by reviewing the year to see what lessons have you learned and prepare for the year ahead. So, rather than counting down the days, you need to finish the year strong.

I know December in dental practice can be hectic as everyone suddenly has a pressing issue they want fixing despite the tooth breaking 6 months ago or wanting to maximise their health insurance and you can’t wait for the first day of your hard-earned time off.

But if you can finish this year strong you can build on that momentum to carry you into next year and reap the rewards.

Review your year

Write down your biggest success and list the actions you’re going to take to repeat that success next year.

Do the same for your biggest failure, and write down what you’ve learned. List how you will prevent it from happening again. You might not want to look at the lows but bite the bullet and do it or you’ll miss out on the wisdom to be gained.

Arrange a year-end wrap-up with your boss or if you are the boss your team to get their feedback on how you’ve performed and to establish goals for next year.

Review your relationships

Having strong professional relationships is key to business success – these can be coaches, mentors, colleagues and members of your team:

  • List the people whose contributions most directly impact your performance.
  • Identify the relationships that are not delivering their full potential.
  • Find time to talk to the individuals concerned and share your thoughts with them. Be clear on what you need from them in order for you to improve collaboration and performance. Be sure to align goals and thinking so you can work together more effectively.
  • Ask how you could better support your teammate, and what they see your part is in improving the relationship. Positive teamwork is always a two-way street.

Finish strong as a team

If you manage a team, ask them for their highlights and lowlights of the year and get their ideas on what they’d like to see new or different next year. Do this as a group exercise; find somewhere away from the office where people can engage in more frank, free-flowing dialogue. This is a great way to set your team up for a more positive work environment in the New Year—and a productive one, too.

Ask your team what they’d like from you in the New Year, and what you can do better or differently to improve their work life and performance.

Say thanks! Show your appreciation for their work and support.

If you’re a team member, get together with the others on the team and review the good and the not-so-good of the year. Agree and record at least one takeaway action per team member. Then get into the specifics that team members can take ownership of and deliver against.

De-clutter—mentally and environmentally

Finalise your to-do list. The shorter that list is, the more you’ll enjoy your holiday. Clear the decks and Delegate whatever you can. If there are tasks on your list that have been there a long time, consider whether they’re worth doing at all and if not, donate them to the trash bin.

Any gnarly tasks or difficult conversations you’ve been putting off? Get them done. You’ll feel so much better starting the New Year without these waiting for you.

Tidy desk = tidy mind. Clear out that desk draw; clear off your desk. The same goes for your inbox, other electronic documentation, computer files, etc. Do whatever you can do to start the New Year journey with as little baggage as possible.

Write it all down

Record those lessons learned, good ideas, objectives etc. Don’t just try and “remember to remember.” Otherwise, chances are you’ll forget something along the way.

Plan for next year

Set your goals and objectives. Business objectives might already be determined for you and your team, but look to your own values and set a short list of your personal improvement targets. We can all get better at something.

Think S.M.A.R.T. You need to plan the How not just the What.

Don’t turn up unprepared and let the New Year just happen to you. Decide what you want out of it and plan how you’re going to get it. Then, go get it!