Before we take a dive into the New Year, let’s conclude this year with a strong finish. There’s a great deal of information out there helping you kick off your new year. But let’s not rush it. There are still a few hours left in this year. Let’s use them to the fullest.
First, shoot for a strong finish. Then we can turn our sights to the new year.
Here are five suggestions for you as the year winds down and you bring 365 days to a strong finish.
- Reflect. Try this exercise: without looking at any calendar or journal, take moment to think through the past year. What things stand out? What are the highlights? What are the lowlights? What are things that you never again want to experience? What were the things that brought you the most joy? Where was there sorrow? Write them down. After you write them down, ask yourself what lessons all of these things have taught you. In what way will these lessons help you as you finish strong and turn the calendar? Post those lessons in a prominent place.
- Retrace (your steps). Before moving ahead with any project or goal, let alone a whole new year, it’s wise to retrace your steps. Prior to the year ending, I like to scroll through my Google calendar to see the many events and activities that took place. Now, instead of remembering off the top of my head, I’m drilling down to specifics. I feel a sense of accomplishment as I see all that has taken place. I also see things that could use improvement, or mistakes that I don’t want to make again. In the new year I want to take it to a new level. I received a great daily planner for Christmas called the New York in Art 2016 Engagement Calendar. It’s filled with great art of my favorite city. Since I already use an electronic calendar, my new planner is going to serve as a simple journal for the coming year. At the end of each day I’m going to write down the highlights. Then at the end of the year I’ll have a way to reflect on blessings and learn specific lessons.
- Readjust. After the first two steps, it’s time to readjust. From the blessings I received and the lessons I learned, I want to readjust my mindset for the new year. This past year I wrote the first draft for a book I hope to publish in the first part of this upcoming year. As I reflected on all the work that went into it, I was thankful that a huge task was accomplished, but I also wished that I would have finished the first draft sooner. Heading into the new year I’m readjusting my thinking to buckle down better, work harder, and use “free time” for better purposes.
- Reaffirm. As human beings, we all need a little encouragement…even if it comes from ourselves. Reflecting on and retracing the steps of the past year is a great way to bring intrinsic encouragement. You’ve seen the things you have already accomplished. You’ve acknowledged all the goals that have been completed. You have finished strong. Pat yourself on the back. Reward yourself. Instead of finishing the year with a whimper, feeling sorry for yourself, recognize your accomplishments. You really made stuff happen this year. You are finishing strong.
- Reconcile. The end of the year is a great time to reconcile with your own guilt and shortcomings, and also to reconcile with those with whom there have been fights or fallouts. It all starts with forgiveness. All those who are baptized begin each new day with a clean slate, made that way by the forgiveness of a grace-full God. Why not start the new year in the same way? Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Let forgiveness fall like new and clean snow. Finishing the year on a strong and forgiving note will set the stage for conquering the challenges, receiving the gifts, and knocking down all of your goals for the new year.
What do you do to conclude the year with a strong finish?