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Another year is ending, and we are preparing for a new one. In SUCCESS, we focus lots of attention on beginnings: How to start a business, how to begin a marketing campaign, how to initiate a networking conversation, how to launch a product, how to create a business plan. During four years with SUCCESS, my most popular column—May 2012—described how to begin your day powerfully. (If you missed it, here’s the gist: Don’t check your smartphone or email first thing; doing so lets others set your agenda. Instead, lay out your top three objectives for the day and only then check incoming email.)
Come January, you’ll be on a new diet, have a new exercise routine, pledge date nights and feel a renewed optimism about how much money you can earn this year. We are all great at starting projects because it’s exciting. Sticking with them is hard. And finishing the old, stale stuff is next to impossible.
As we end the year, I’ll teach you to create your own powerful ending to 2012.
First do a self-assessment of your year. Start by digging to see what you planned to do in 2012. You can search your email files, calendar or journal from December 2011 to January 2012 to jog your memory. Note anything you committed yourself to, whether you completed it or not.
Next make a chart on paper. List these categories (if you can think of more, have at it!) down the left side of the page.
» The name of your partner
» The name of each child
» The names of your parents
Then draw a vertical line dividing the blank area on your page into two columns. Write ACCOMPLISHMENTS at the top of the left column. On the right, put INCOMPLETE.
Write a line-by-line assessment of what you accomplished in 2012 for each category. Did you get out three times a week with friends for a walk? Did you finish a 5K race? Did you repair a relationship? Did you get Mom into a nursing home with the help of your brothers and sisters? Did you pay off or pay down your debt? Did you lose clients or end a business division of your company?
As you write the assessment, flip through your calendar and remind yourself of the small stuff. Oh, yeah, we planted a vegetable garden. We got a puppy. My husband finished his business plan. My daughter got into a club soccer team. Note all of this.
When you’ve finished, you are ready to talk someone through your year. And by doing this, you will get a powerful sense of its being finished. You will have acknowledged your failures and remembered your achievements and be ready for a new beginning. That is how you end something powerfully.
My husband and I have been completing each year this way for almost a decade. On Dec. 31 we go out for a great brunch, just the two of us. We bring our calendars, our notes and two folders and we talk through the year—the good and bad. By the time we pay the bill, there’s nothing left to say: 2012 will be complete and we’re ready for 2013.
Personally, I’m ready to jump onto SUCCESS.com, where I’ll write a featured article monthly. It’s more fanfare for me—just online now—so follow me there.
And as you finish 2012 powerfully, I’ll leave you with this quote from author Louis L’Amour: “There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.”