Finishing Well

I’ll admit there are very few things in this world that I personally feel like I do well but one of those things is planning.

I’m a great planner. I’m pretty good at taking large tasks and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable ones. I love creating lists of things to do. That’s a strength for me.

The curse of having a strength is that it always seems to have a matching weakness, doesn’t it? My weakness is in execution. I love to make lists and figure out what it would take to do something but I’m horrible at actually doing the things on that list. When things get hard or my passion wanes, I bail. Just ask every workout program I’ve ever started.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you’re reading this, that means that you’ve made it to December. Congratulations! This is the time of year when things start to wind down and we begin to start the process of reflection on the past year.

As we head into this last month, let me ask you the questions that I’ve begun asking myself lately: How about those New Years resolutions? How much progress have you made on your goals?

For a lot of us (myself included), when we take a look back, we realize that we haven’t made nearly as much progress as we dreamed we would back when the year was fresh and our hearts were filled with big dreams and possibilities.

So what do we do with the time that is left? My default, go-to answer to this question has almost always been to coast. To do nothing. The year is almost over anyway. Why bother trying now?

But there is another option. It’s one I’m going to attempt to own this year. Instead of just mailing it in, we can lean into the time we have left and do whatever we can to get closer to our original goal.

You’ve got a month left in the year. That’s a pretty long time. Why waste it? You won’t get everything done that was on your list, and that’s okay. Making any progress at all is its own kind of success.

Here are some simple things that you can do to make sure that you finish the year well.

Don’t Quit

Resolve right now to not give up on the goals that you set for yourself back in January. Decide that this time, this year, you aren’t going to give up on your goals … or yourself.

My friend Tammy Woodbury said this in an Instagram post not too long ago and it hit me right in the gut. It fits so perfectly here:

“Don’t quit on the promises you made to yourself. It’s not about a diet. Or a grind. Or a raise. It’s about remembering what you said you wanted and staying committed to the things that will get you there.“

You wanted something in particular when you set your goals. There was a purpose and an outcome in mind. What was it? Why did you want that goal in particular? Go back and remember. Then, in your remembering, make a pact with yourself not to quit.

Do whatever it takes. Say “I will not quit!” out loud. Write a contract with yourself that you actually sign. Do whatever you need to do to create a non-negotiable deal that says “I will not give up.”

This is the most important thing you can do. This has to be step #1. Resolve. Decide. Don’t give up. Never, ever, quit on yourself.

Whatever you do, don’t let resistance win.

Plan & Prepare

Okay, so you’ve decided not to quit. You’ve remembered what was so important about the goals that you set 11 months ago and why you shouldn’t let them go. I’m so proud of you!

The next step is to make a small plan. This is my favorite part! I’m a planner, remember? :)

Go back to your original goals. What were they? We’re going to chop your long list of goals down to somewhere in the vicinity of 1 or 2. Maybe 3 if you’re feeling particularly spry, but I’d advise against that. I know that you set all 50 of those goals for a reason and now that you’ve recovered your list from the bottom of the drawer where it ended up, you want to accomplish all of them. But realistically, any more than 1 or 2 and you’re just kidding yourself. Please give yourself a chance at success. Pick the top 1 or 2 on your list that will have the most impact or will set you up for success heading into the new year. Let’s focus on those.

Next, you’re going to cut each of your remaining goals down to almost nothing. A month is a pretty long time, but it’s not as long as a year. You can still accomplish something, but if you try to accomplish what you had planned in January you will end up killing yourself. You’ll hate your goals and your lack of progress. You’ll probably end up hating yourself. I don’t want you to do that.

  • Take your 50 pound weight loss goal and cut that down to 5 pounds. Or even 2. What an awesome result to say that you made it through the holidays without gaining any weight or even losing some!
  • You wanted to write a book. That might not have happened, but you can write 2 or 3 blog posts. Get started by writing 100 words every day. That might not seem like much, but at the end of the month you’ll have written over 3000 words. That’s enough for 6 blog posts!
  • You were going to start your own business. Spend some time researching what it will take to make that happen. You’ve set yourself up for success when you turn in your new business paperwork right after the new year!

Lastly, you’ve got to write your new goal down. In the midst of all the holiday festivities that are about to encroach on your life, give yourself the best possible chance of success by writing down when, where, and what you’ll be working on. If you don’t write it down and give yourself a set time and place to work on it, it will never happen. Write it down on your calendar. Put this somewhere you’ll see it every day. Writing it down is imperative to your success.

Get Started Now

The energy with which you finish will be the energy with which you start. The last thing you want to do going into the new year is to start at zero again. With even just a little bit of effort you can begin the new year with a drive, energy, and power that you’ve probably never experienced before.

The trick? Just start.

So many people stop in December. They decide that they’ve worked hard all year and now is the time that they get a well deserved rest.

I’d be the first to tell you that rest is of the utmost importance. There is definitely a time for rest. You probably deserve some. Without rest we all would burn out and be no good at all.

But I think there are seasons when we can and should rest and seasons when we should kick things into high gear and get moving. I’d argue that this is the time of year for the latter. This is when you should probably be stepping up your efforts, not slowing down.

By starting now, we will build up a momentum for ourselves unlike any other. If we put in the effort it takes to “prime the pump” on our goals we’ll be at a distinct advantage once we hit January. We will have already overcome the resistance that everyone else is feeling and will have started new habits that will propel us ahead of everyone else who is waiting until the new year to get started.

Take advantage of the time that you have left this year. Don’t squander it. Remember why you set the goals you did. Make a plan and get started now. Most importantly, don’t quit on yourself.

We can choose how we head into the new year. There are two choices. We can choose to enter it starting from scratch once again. Or, we can choose to enter it with conviction and the knowledge that we drained every last ounce out of the year that we are currently in. That we gave it our all. We can enter the new year with momentum on our side.

How you finish determines how you start. So determine how you want to start. Now go finish that way.