One of my most gratifying moments is sitting at home with a cup of coffee after cleaning my house, with all the laundry done, the bills paid, and a pot of pinto beans and rice on the stove. No matter what’s going down around me, I get this feeling of optimism I wish I could keep forever.

“Yeah, I’ve got this,” I think to myself.

Making Room for New Ideas

The first week of January, I did this massive cleaning. I gave away, repurposed, or tossed lots and lots of stuff. I looked at my stuff and thought, “When was the last time I needed you? The last time I thought about you?” More than six months? Out you go. I got into it like a mad man. It was wild. After the big toss-out, I cleaned everything, moved more stuff around, and gave away more.

As I sat sipping leftover Starbucks Christmas blend in my thinned-out dwellings, new ideas kept popping into my mind, like visualizing how to incorporate things I like into my work week. I planned a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, made a healthy food shopping list, noticed words to “Dance Me to the End of Love” by Leonard Cohen I had never heard before. My creativity was soaring. And it was only coffee, girl, I swear.

5 Steps to Start Off Your Best Professional Year

You already did everyone’s hair for the holidays. The January slowdown is the best time to refocus and plan, not just for a banner 2022, but how to take better care of your needs and work smarter, not harder, to address that which you love. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Come into the salon on your day off (come on), so you won’t have the pressure of clients when you're armed with cleaning items, rags, paper towels, and gloves.
  2. Strip your station, empty all drawers and counters, and leave it bare. Now, clean and polish your station and chair to a tee. Put some love into it.
  3. As you disinfect each tool to return to your station, think: “Is this a keeper, a donation, or a garbage can item? When was the last time I used it?" Use the six-month rule.
  4. Once your station feels like a rocket ready for launch, categorize your client list as either regular, occasional, or spotty. This is a reality check of your actual client load and where you might need to do better or chill.
  5. Send each one a message or email, and include any link to booking. Thank the regular client, and remember to include something personal in your note so it doesn’t appear like a massive mailing. Say something like, “I still laugh when I think of…," or, "I hope your puppy is behaving.” Send the occasional client an invitation for a free consultation with a note such as, “I’ve just seen the latest haircut and color trends for 2022 and would love to show them to you.” She might not jump on it, but she will realize you care and that you are her go-to person. Show the spotty client that you like them, miss them, and always are ready to see them. Say, “I am hoping that in 2022, I get to see your smiling face more often. I have new cut and color trends to show you anytime.”

Wait a minute. Let’s not forget dreams and desires. I liken working behind the chair to keeping a baton twirling. How will you keep your personal baton in the air this year? Watch for a future blog on personal and professional self-care planning.

Carlos Valenzuela is a veteran salon professional and bilingual raconteur of the awardwinning novella Letters to Young Carlos, a coming-of-age tale about a gay boy along the US/Mexico border in the 60s. Visit his writings at carlos-valenzuela.com

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