Prepare for the New Year in Three Weeks or Less

Something tells me our 2022 bingo cards are gonna be full of wild shit so use the end of Q4 to prep

Elisabeth Ovesen | NYT Bestselling Author
Published in
8 min readDec 8, 2021


You’re not going to like what I have to say about booze. (Illustration: Aum/RawPixel)

In my opinion and experience as a personal performance and life mastery coach, the best time to start preparing for a new year is the October before. That means you should have started tying up 2021’s loose ends two months ago, and by now, you should be easing into 2022 with all your ducks in a row. Your quarterly goals should be set, the thoughtful plans to make those goals a reality should be made, your to-do lists organized, and your planner primed and ready for the first day of the new year. You should have finished all old business and prepped yourself to start new business the first Monday after the holiday ends. By now, you should have gone through the year’s past to-do lists and accomplished everything you overlooked or have been putting off. And certainly, by now, you’ve updated your resume, website, social media pages and cleared your inbox of trash. Right? RIGHT?

If you’re not an ultra-organized super planner, like I am, you might be the sort of person who prefers to make New Year resolutions just before the ball drops and then flake on those resolutions for lack of organization and planning. Every year, you might find yourself with the same goals, like working out daily and losing weight. Just like the year before, you start the new year off with a bang and really give it your all. But, just weeks into your new regimen, you hit a wall. Your muscles get sore. Your schedule fluctuates. You don’t have a support system or the workout partner you chose also built her new regimen on a resolution and hit the same wall you did. Now, instead of meeting at the gym three days a week, you’re meeting for a three-hour brunch every weekend.

Have the donuts, but also, maybe work out a bit? (Illustration: Unknown/RawPixel)

It’s often said that how we start our new year is how the rest of the year will unfold. However, if the past five years have taught us anything, it’s that none of us can predict which cards will be dealt in the game of life. Between the country’s tumultuous political climate, civil unrest, murderous police officers, a deadly pandemic, and all the traumas in between, no amount of planning could have prepared us for what we’ve been unfortunate to live through but blessed to survive. So, maybe starting our new year on the right foot to ensure a better future is just a superstition––but why chance it? Sure, we don’t know what the future has in store for us, but isn’t that even more of a reason to plan for the best and prepare for the worst? And given the rollercoaster that has been the last five years, shouldn’t we pack as many parachutes as we can for the year ahead?

If you’ve been flying by the seat of your pants these past few months and careening into the new year like Wile E. Coyote from a cliff, maybe it’s time for a compressed version of what I call The Fourth Quarter Clean-Up. Between October and December, I help my clients work through a list of categories and tackle undone tasks in each before the year’s end. Plus, we work together to create a one-year and first-quarter plans. Then, each quarter, we revisit their goals and adjust their strategy to ensure they stay on a successful course. But, with the new year just a few weeks away, you don’t have time for the full monty. So, how about a 3-Week New Year Prep for Procrastinators?

Week #1: Personal Health and Beauty Upkeep

  • Make appointments to see your healthcare providers, such as your general practitioner, gynecologist, dermatologist, optometrist, therapist, and dentist.
  • Make a fitness plan you can stick with. Even if it’s just 15 minutes a day to start, that’s just fine! Try the Nike Training Club app to find free 15-minute workouts you can do at home that require no equipment.
  • Make a dietary plan you can stick with. If you’re cutting down on carbs, sugars, and prepackaged foods, start throwing out and donating your food items now. Then, start shopping according to healthy new recipes. I really enjoy the ones at Gimme Some Oven. If you have a particular set of health concerns, like diabetes or high blood pressure, I recommend searching Amazon for a cookbook that speaks to those concerns.
  • Purchase products or see specialists that can solve your beauty concerns. If you’ve been putting off getting a cut and color, make an appointment to see your stylist. If you’ve been having trouble with breakouts, try these probiotics and this skincare line, or see your dermatologist. If you’ve fallen behind in your hand and foot care, make an appointment to have your nails done or give yourself a pedicure and manicure at home.

Week #2: Financial and Professional Upkeep

  • Make a list of all your bills and see where you can cut corners. Next, call your utility providers and ask how they can help you save money. If the person you speak to can’t help you, ask for the Customer Retention Department and ask someone there. Go through your subscriptions and cancel those you don't need, or lower the plans on those you want to keep.
  • Download helpful personal finance apps like Mint, Acorns, and Stash to help keep track of your budget, save money, and invest.
  • Create savings goals and open different accounts to help you reach them. Then, set up instant deposits into each account, depending on your goals. Consider the 50/30/20 Rule if you need help creating a budget, and tweak it as necessary.
  • Check-in with your tax preparer to ensure you’ve filed your state and federal taxes correctly, paid what you owed, and gotten the returns you deserve.
  • Make a pay-off goal for your debt. First, join a local credit union and start building a relationship with them. A secured loan is a great way to do this, especially if you pay it off quickly. Then, apply for a consolidation loan to save interest on your credit card debt. Doing this can also save you thousands of dollars. Lastly, create a pay-off plan for the consolidation loan. Always pay more than is due and split your payment into weekly installments to help boost your credit, pay the debt off faster, and save on interest.
  • Start the habit of checking your credit score daily and working to improve it monthly. Then, sign up for credit repair for just $50 with The Credit Fix Guy. Someone recommended him to me back in 2017, and with his help, my score went from 438 to 725 in one summer. Now, with the education he gave me, I’m enjoying an 800+ score and all the perks that come with it. If you need affordable credit help, this is your guy. Lastly, download Credit Karma and Experian apps so you’ll know your starting score and can keep track of your progress.

Week #3: Household Cleanliness and Organizational Upkeep

  • Organize and clean your bedroom, closet, and bathroom. These rooms are where you start and end your days, so this is where you should begin. If you live with your family, make sure everyone pitches in and does their part.
  • Organize and clean your kitchen. If you’re a home cook, you use this room often, and it could probably use a little tidying. Clean out your fridge, drawers, and all your cabinets. If you’re feeling up to it, clean the oven, too! Personally, I’m not great at cleaning ovens, so I usually outsource this part to a professional.
  • Organize and clean your garage and storage closets. This may be a little overwhelming depending on how many other things need to get done before the end of the year. So, it might be a good idea to compartmentalize this task by planning to clean one portion of the space at a time, or cleaning for only a predetermined amount of time and stopping when that time is up even if the task isn’t completed. Then, repeat as your schedule allows.
  • Clean on top of and under everything. Walk around your place with a dry and wet cloth and wipe down the top of your refrigerator and the doors. Clean your ceiling fans and baseboards. The idea is to clean the hard-to-see and reach places in your home and get rid of all that old dust that’s been accumulating for months or years. New energy loves clean spaces!
New year prep can be grounding and anxiety-reducing. (Illustration: Sasi/RawPixel)

With your affairs in better order than before the 3-Week New Year Prep for Procrastinators, you should be all set to celebrate New Year’s Eve and Day with family, friends, your pets, or with yourself. Celebrating without the stress of a thousand pending personal crises is the best way to start a new year. But, true to form, I’d like to take this preparation a bit further. I apologize ahead of time for the following suggestions because they’re sort of ridiculous. That being said, I do these two things every year.

  • Stay home on New Year’s Eve instead of going out. Have a small gathering at your place, spend it with your immediate family, or alone.
  • Go to bed at your regular bedtime on New year’s Eve, or shortly after midnight and get at least 8 hours of sleep.
  • Wake up early on New Year’s Day. Work out, meditate, drink lots of water, and get to work on your new year goals and plans. This is the best time to focus on personal and professional goals since most people are hungover, off of work, and still in party mode.

Listen, you don’t have to be as fanatical as I am about starting my new year clear. Take what you find useful from my suggestions, if anything, and leave the rest. But, let me just say this before I leave you––my family and I thrived during the pandemic because of the planning and organization put into place the year before and in the early months of what has turned out to be a long couple of years.

Preparing for a new year in the fourth quarter of the old year has always helped me feel less anxious and more in control of my choices, even when life throws curveballs. The steps above can create grounding rituals that help you navigate an unstable world, and if you suffer from anxieties and traumas as I do, those rituals can make the difference between losing your shit and keeping it together. So, if you haven’t done so already and if you have to ability to do so, start preparing for next year now. Something tells me our 2022 bingo cards are gonna be full of wild shit.



Elisabeth Ovesen | NYT Bestselling Author
Writer for

3x New York Times bestselling author, art enthusiast, and design girlie living between Los Angeles and New York City