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Setting the Table for Success

Women's Initiative Newsletter

by Sarah-Nell Walsh

There's magic in a beautifully set table.

Have you ever salivated over a table at which even Martha Stewart would be proud to sit? During this time of year, I find myself googling "DIY holiday table setting ideas" and gawking at the creativity of people using candles, pomegranates, squash, and pinecones to set the perfect table.

All these beautiful table settings got me thinking . . . How can I help my clients set the table for success in 2022?

Maybe you knocked your goals out of the park in 2021 or maybe you came up short, but how are you going to spend the end of the year? Are you going to celebrate all you've gained in 2021? Are you going to beat yourself up for everything you could have accomplished this year?

What if, regardless of how 2021 shook out, you could use the remainder of the year to set the table for success in 2022? Here are some practical tips to do just that:

  1. Find your why. Before you can achieve "success," you must define it.  What does success look like to you? What would need to change for you to feel successful? Why is achieving this goal important to you?

    Once you are crystal clear on what success looks like and why you are chasing it, achieving that vision is much easier.
  2. Learn from the past. I recommend that you sit down and take a critical look at 2021 and ask yourself the following questions: What worked? What do you need to let go of? What do you need to do differently?

    Too many of my clients ignore the aspects of their businesses that are working and pour time, effort, and money into aspects of their business that aren't working. What would it look like to double down your efforts on the areas that are working and let go of the product line, income stream or company division that is sucking up all your time and effort?
  3. Budget your time. Similarly, look at how you spent your time this year and reflect on whether it is in line with your values. When I was practicing law more than full-time, my professional coach said to me, "You keep on saying how important your family is to you, so where are they on your calendar?"  That simple, true statement was just the gut punch I needed to put a time block on my calendar from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. every night to spend quality time with my family. Carving that time out for my family allowed me to feel more successful.

    Time is more valuable than money. If it is worthwhile to track how we spend our hard-earned dollars, we should also track how we spend our finite hours and ensure that it is in line with our values.
  4. Reconnect. Who do you need "on your team" to make 2022 successful? Make a list of the people whose support, influence and networks could enable your vision of success. Then, begin reaching out to those people NOW, before you need their support, influence, or connections.

    The holidays are a natural time to reconnect. If you don't want to call out of nowhere, send a quick text to see if they have five minutes today to say hi. Give folks an update on what's new and find out where they're at. And don't let the fact that you've been out of touch be a deterrent – plenty of folks have spent the past two years hiding under a rock and will be happy to hear from you.
  5. Use it or lose it. Lots of businesses had an unexpectedly strong FY21 or delayed major budget outlays. That money must get spent, or managers may lose that funding for next year. If you have existing business customers, offer pre-payments for 2022. If you have periodic service agreements, offer an early renewal or a small upfront payment discount. If you have a waiting list, take a deposit or down-payment now to guarantee services in 2022.
  6. Give thanks. If there are companies, clients or people who have been integral to your success, be sure and express your gratitude for their support. People are much more likely to help you again if they feel like their support, influence and connections have been sincerely appreciated. A handwritten thank you note goes a long way toward making people feel valued and appreciated.
  7. Do less. This year, I hired a personal assistant. It seems super indulgent since I work from home and have far greater flexibility now than previously. But just because I can dash out in between client appointments to mail packages, pick up the dry cleaning or get the oil changed doesn't make it an efficient use of my time. My time is better spent doing things that only I can do – coaching my clients, parenting my children, loving my husband, and running my business.

Every time I look at my to-do list, I ask myself these questions: (1) Do I need to do this? (2) Can someone else do this? (3) Does this need to be done now? This simple exercise taught me a truth that I've always known deep down: I'm not nearly as indispensable as I think I am.

So, as you approach the final days of 2021, I challenge you to get laser-focused on the exact steps YOU can take to set the table for success in 2022 – however you define it. Know that I am rooting for you to achieve all the big, hairy audacious goals you set for yourself in 2022.

While you take a step back and enjoy the holiday season, I encourage you to begin setting the table for success in 2022. Your future self will thank you!

Cheers to your continued success,

Sarah-Nell Walsh is an executive coach, former Baker Donelson partner and founder of Wayfinders LLC. Equal parts big-hearted cheerleader and bold challenger, Sarah-Nell works with ambitious professionals who want to perform at the top of their game. She helps her clients grow their businesses, hone their leadership skills and make their desired impact on their organizations, their families, and the world.  You can learn more about Wayfinders, LLC at

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