Endings and Beginnings – Successfully Transitioning into 2014

2013-2014-blue-Fotolia_572147331As each year draws to a close, I like to reflect, and I ask my clients to do the same. Year-end is a great time to look both backward at the year that is closing out and ahead at the year to come. This brings closure and also allows for learning to come from the experiences the year has brought.

The challenge, I find, is that it is an incredibly busy time of year, so unless I consciously stop to engage in this process, it will not happen. So, the first step is setting aside some uninterrupted time to think. Ha! – you may be saying to yourself. That is nearly impossible! Believe me, I understand the challenge of the task and simply encourage you to make a concerted effort to find a few minutes. Even if all you have is 15 or 20 minutes, you can use that time to begin thinking and reflecting.

Once you’ve set aside the time, begin by thinking back on 2013, the year that is ending. What has it been like for you? What were the high points – the successes, accomplishments and bright spots? You will likely be surprised at all you have accomplished during the course of the year. Focus on how the year met your hopes and where it exceeded your wildest dreams.

Now turn your attention to the low points – the disappointments and failures. Although less pleasant, it is equally important to look at where the year did not measure up to your expectations in order to grow from those experiences as well.

I like to write all of this down because it is much more vivid and real to me if I do. I suggest you do the same. I also find that it can be hard for me to remember all the way back to January so I use my calendar to trigger my memory.

Once you have catalogued the ups and downs of the year, you can consider what you have learned in the process of those experiences. What lessons can you take forward? How can those experiences make you stronger and help you grow in the coming year?

With those pieces of wisdom in mind, you can now turn your attention to the year to come. 2014 will be here before we know it! What do you want from the year? What do you want the year to be like? If you were talking to someone in December of 2014, what would you like to be saying to them about the year?

I choose a theme for each year. A theme is a word or phrase that captures the essence of the way I want to experience the coming year or the quality I want to bring to my experiences during the year. There is no right or wrong way to choose a theme for the year. Some people like to make collages or listen to music and find that a theme naturally emerges. Some will find the theme hidden among their learnings from the previous year. Still others will play with various words and phrases to simply see which one resonates for them.

Once you have a theme, you are ready to enter the new year and begin planning in earnest. I find that having a theme allows goals to begin to organically emerge. It is said that failing to plan is planning to fail, and I agree. Planning and setting goals are critical components to ensuring success. My colleague, Dan Sheedy, set and achieved a huge goal this year and writes about it in his blog post entitled The 3000 Mile SMART(P) Goal.

Congratulations on 2013! Take the time to celebrate all that you have accomplished and worked through in the course of the year. Also, as you set your theme for 2014, let us know what you have chosen. Themes are most powerful when shared, and we’d love to help you bring yours to life!