January: Adulting Checklist During the Not-So-Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Erin L. Albert
4 min readJan 5, 2024
My home office, post-Christmas Tree Takedown this week

Friends, “hate” is a strong word. So, I won’t use it. But suffice it to say that I personally think January is the Monday of months.

All the holiday hoopla is over, and it’s like being stuck with the check and a big hangover when everyone else left the party. The weather is generally gray and dark where I am (in the Midwest), and there are a ton of adulting obligations to do during the month too — icky stuff like de-holiday-decorating, accounting, tax prep, and even annoying things like car license plate registrations for me.

However, to try to win the uphill battle that is January, if you — like me — suffer from the January blues/grays, here are some adulting badge wins for your consideration that I do during this month, despite it being at least my least favorite time of the year:

  • Get solid on your goals — I write mine as I review the previous year’s goals in December, but they’re wet concrete by the end of the previous year. They dry and cure in January. So, I tweak them during January until I feel like I can honor them, have the resources and capacity to achieve them (with a little extra stretch), and focus on them for the year.
  • Check your documents— check your driver’s license, your car registration, your insurance, your passport, and your TSA precheck expirations. When was the last oil change on your car too?
  • Check your other licenses — professional licenses, for example. Many require continuing education — are you good there?
  • Make your Medical appointments — for your primary care doctor, for your gyno, ladies, for your mammo ladies, and for your dentist if you haven’t already. I’d recommend waiting until the end of the month, because healthcare plans change on 1/1 which means most insurance right now is an absolute mess. Let that work itself out for a few before you go adding fuel to the fire, if at all possible.
  • Check your financial accounts — how’s that IRA doing? 401k? Those CDs? Doing an annual review of your finances isn’t my favorite thing, but I lift the hood on my finances in January to see if there’s anything else I need to change in the new year. That might mean actually funding your Roth or Traditional IRA for the year out of the gate. (My broker made it next to impossible for me to fund mine this year, but I ultimately persevered and won that war today.) Make sure your bank isn’t nickeling and diming you on fees — if they are, bounce and find another bank.
  • Check your utilities — can you negotiate or re-negotiate rates? Can you get rid of anything? Have you been watching Netflix? How about your cellphone plan — when was the last time you shopped that for a better rate?
  • Check your password manager — whatever tool(s) you use — are they up to date? Is it time to update it or whatever method you use?
  • Get ready for tax time — if you own a business, it’s 1099 time and sales tax time. I would rather go to the dentist or the gyno than wrestle with my accounting, but hey — you have to get it done. Set up your tax appointments if you use an accountant or tax preparer — 4/15 will be here before you know it.
  • Check your will — Another item I’ve been avoiding, but it’s time to get that will out and get it re-written. It’s musty old.
  • Plan major vacations for the year — I’m going to Alaska this year, but that’s going to take some planning. Make sure the time is blocked on your calendar, and your day job is cool with it, and then book your travel.
  • Plan major learning excursions for the year — If you’re leading, you have to keep learning, so what is your learning plan for the year? Get that stuff on the calendar too. It’s important. That might mean going to France to study painting, or just going online and watching a TedX talk once a week — whatever that is, get it on the calendar.
  • Get rid of stuff no longer serving you — Clear off the pile on your desk, clear out your closets, and give to charity. And, maybe it’s even time to think about cutting the cord on personal relationships that aren’t healthy anymore for you too. Anything you focus your time and attention on should be paying you back in some way — financially, ethically, morally, or socially. If you don’t feel like you’re getting much out of whatever or whomever that is anymore, maybe it’s time to clear that out too….
  • Check your job — Did you actually have goals or performance reviews at your company? If not, you should still consider writing formal goals for yourself at work as well. If the job is no longer serving you, just as the previous bullet, then maybe it’s time for your goal to be getting a new job that does in the new year…? You should be learning and/or earning. If you’ve got 2/2 going on (like me), great — check the box and you’re good. If you’ve only got 1/2 going on, hey — we all need to pay our bills. But if you’re not getting paid and you’re not learning, it’s time to find something new.

This is an aggressive, ambitious list to knock out in January. But, the good news is that if I can get it done, January should fly by quickly and I shouldn’t notice the drudgery of the cold, gray dark days.

May the odds be ever in our favor….for getting through January 2024.