4 Ways to Start Fresh in the New Year for Success as an SLP

As the New Year begins, you’ll likely find yourself reflecting on your past year as an SLP. This is the perfect time to take inventory of what’s working and what isn’t, make changes, and plan ahead for a great summer break. Choosing a fresh start in the new year will help you establish a healthier work-life balance and find success as an SLP to carry you through the entire year! 

starting fresh in the new year SLPs

4 Ways to Find Success as an SLP in the New Year

1. Take Inventory: What’s Working and What Isn’t

The New Year is a fantastic time to evaluate what IS and ISN’T working for you. Take the needed time to take inventory of your caseload, daily schedule, mental health, and professional goals. 

Caseload Management

Think about what age groups or populations that you enjoy working with the most and how you can better tailor your caseload in the coming months to reflect your passion.  

Consider any clients you have who aren’t making progress despite your best efforts. Do you have colleagues you can reach out to for advice? Are there other referrals you should be making for these clients that may be hindering speech progress? Think about things like occupational therapy for sensory processing concerns or physical therapy for trunk support with feeding clients. 

Daily Schedule

Think about your time management skills too. 

Are you feeling burnout because of overbooked days? 

Do you possibly have too much downtime between afternoon sessions that is causing you to get home later in the evenings and miss time with your family? 

Consider ways you can tweak your schedule to allow for the right work-life balance for your energy levels to stay high.

Mental Health

As much as you want to pour every fiber of your soul into providing the very best care for each of your clients and their families, you MUST consider your own well-being! If you aren’t prioritizing your own mental health, you will become burnout quickly. 

The demands of the field of speech-language pathology can be high and overwhelming at times. It’s vital to make time to recharge your own batteries frequently along the way!

Professional Goals

Review your professional goals. How many continuing education courses do you need to complete this year? What courses help you meet other professional goals? 

As you seek to set clear and obtainable goals for your clients, do the same for yourself! Set clear professional objectives for yourself to help you stay motivated and achieve your goals for this year.

Post these goals in a place where you will see them often– a dry-erase board on your desk, the front cover of your planner, or a digital sticky note on your desktop. Find what works best for you!

2. Make Changes for Balance

Once you have taken a thorough look at what is and isn’t working, it’s time to make changes. These changes can be big or small, just as long as they align with your overall goal to find a better balance for the new year and find success as an SLP!


Consider these ideas: 

Adjust Your Schedule

Restructure your schedule if you’re feeling overwhelmed. You might need to add a couple more breaks for paperwork throughout the day so that you aren’t swamped at the end of the day. If this isn’t an option, maybe you can split up your designated paperwork time into smaller chunks! 

If you’re finding yourself with large gaps in your schedule, it’s likely time to inform families that your schedule is changing and give them new session options that will allow for sessions to be back-to-back instead of spread out. 

You’ll likely be surprised, most families will not express a bit of remorse over your need for change!

Schedule Mental Health Days

Plan occasional (but consistent!) days to recharge, relax, and do activities that you love. 

If you can plan these during the weekends or on weeknights, great! But if you can’t, then cancel your speech sessions and positively invest in your mental health.

For more in-depth information on burnout specific to the SLP profession, try This SLP Life by Melissa Page Deutsch.

Don’t ever underestimate the power of taking care of yourself!

Use a “Do Not Disturb” Sign

Working in a school or clinic with many staff members can be great for collaboration and keeping your adult-interaction bucket filled, but sometimes it can make it hard to truly focus. 

Use a “Do Not Disturb” sign when you are conducting therapy or assessments in order to give provide high-quality services for your clients while keeping your own concentration intact. 

These double-sided door hangers are the perfect solution to let others know when you are or aren’t available for friendly chats!

As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a small commission when you use the links in my post. There is no increase in the price you pay!

Simplify Activities

Streamline your therapy activities this year to decrease planning, prep, and clean-up times.

Rehome toys that are not multi-functional. Go through your bookshelf and remove all books that are extremely outdated, too weathered, or missing pages. Purchase notebooks to hold all of the printouts you regularly use that are currently stacked (not so neatly) in a tower on your desk. 

Consider one-player games that can be used in therapy sessions and double as homework. These magnet chips work great, keep kids engaged, and are a breeze at clean-up time! 

Your future self will thank you big time for choosing to simplify things now!

Plan for Summer Break

As the new year begins, it’s already time to set your sights on summer! Summer break is a great time for school SLPs to see private clients or for private SLPs to add a few new school-aged clients. 

Getting referrals for these clients won’t happen overnight though so you need to think now about the steps you can implement to be set up for a successful summer.

Communicate Clearly with Caregivers

Establishing clear communication about client progress and involving caregivers in goal-setting helps parents learn that you really care! Maintain your professionalism while answering questions and demonstrating your knowledge. 

When families believe in you, see that you care, and see the high-quality treatment you provide, you will stay at the forefront of their minds. This helps families consider YOU as an SLP worthy of referring to others. 

Educate Caregivers

Inform families about your scope of practice as an SLP and how your services can benefit their child and others.

Provide education to them regarding pertinent topics for the child like autism, ADHD, early intervention, and more. Grab these print-ready parent handouts so you don’t have to recreate what’s already been done!

Also, spend time ensuring they understand the goals you set and strategies you suggest. When caregivers feel involved and informed, this also helps them feel more confident in recommending your services to others! 

Decide Summer Availability

I know summer feels far away, but begin to think about how much and when you really want to see your prized summer speech clients

Consider things like:

  • Do you love spending the afternoons with your kids by the pool?
    • Maybe you should only offer morning sessions. 
  • Do you want to enjoy extended days off at a time so that you can have frequent short summer trips?
    • Consider scheduling two full days back to back and then having 5 consecutive days off.

Making these decisions and letting caregivers know well in advance can help you avoid any hiccups in planning for your great summer of private clients! 

inspiration for pediatric SLPs in the New Year

By taking inventory, making changes, and planning ahead, you CAN establish a healthier work-life balance and find success as an SLP this year! Remember, you’re exactly who your clients need you to be, but that means you have to take care of yourself too.

You may also be interested in reading:

How to Avoid SLP Burnout 

Seeing Speech Students Over the Summer

Summer Speech Schedules That Keep You Sane  



The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.