The end of the year is fast approaching. During December, many of us turn our attention to the New Year as we begin to develop new goals and plans to meet them. However, there’s something you need to do before you start preparing for the next 12 months. You need to finish up the old year.
I’m not talking about getting all the way to December 31st and ringing in the New Year. I’m talking about reviewing last year and considering what you still need to do to ensure that in the next year you can achieve your goals.
If you run into the New Year without thinking about what you have left behind in the old year that is unfinished, messy, or in need of attention, you’ll carry all of that with you. I realize that you may want to sprint into the coming year if you didn’t like last year or if you have exciting plans for the future, but resist that urge.
Slow Down and Prepare
Slow down! Take a look at the past year. Maybe you’ll discover, for example, that you are carrying emotional baggage, incomplete projects, or appointments you never made (or kept) into the New Year. If so, the last weeks of December are an essential time to handle these things.
Leave that old emotional baggage behind and enter the New Year feeling lighter and more free to pursue your new goals and projects and act on your new intentions and strategies. Finish up the old projects so you can get started on the next ones. Schedule and show up for those appointments.
How to Enter a New Year
To accomplish this task, consider what you need to clean up, set up, and level up from the last 12 months. Every quarter, I have the great good fortune to meet virtually with my friend, colleague, and mentor Charly Caldwell. And he always asks me (and the other members of his Success Academy) three questions:
- What do you need to clean up?
- What do you need to set up?
- What do you need to level up?
I know you want to become the best version of yourself and to improve in many areas of your life. It can prove hard to accomplish that if you haven’t done the work to determine what you need to clean up, what needs to get set up to make that happen, and how you want to level up, so you live as your best self and enjoy your best life.
Let’s look at how to use Charly’s practice to prepare for the New Year.
Take some time to write down the “messes” you haven’t yet cleaned up from the past year. Maybe something happened in the last 12 months that feels like it is in disarray in your career, health, finances, or relationships. It’s time to clean that up.
For instance, you might have a relationship that needs cleaning up, so you don’t bring the negative energy and emotions into the New Year. This could mean you need to apologize, repair, or share honestly about how you feel. I usually call this “completing” with someone because you’ve got conversations or situations that were left incomplete. Maybe you had an argument and never made up. Perhaps you felt hurt about something said to you and never spoke up. These are messes you want to clean up by having a conversation or sending an email or letter that expresses honestly how you feel, apologizes, or asks for the opportunity to clear out the negative feelings.
Maybe you need to clean up incomplete projects at home or at work. Or you might have a goal you set for this year that you’ve almost…but not quite…achieved. It may not be possible to get to “done” at this point, but these last weeks of the year provide a super time to think about how to complete them. (Then you can move on to set up.)
It’s possible that you need to clean your desk, organize your office, declutter your home, and create better systems. Possibly finances are your biggest mess… Where did you spend too much and create credit card debt? Did you forget to put money in savings? Or maybe your mess lies in the area of health. Did you gain weight, allow stress to increase your blood pressure, and never take time out to refresh, relax, and exercise? It’s time to clean these areas up, too.
As you consider what needs to be cleaned up in any area of your life, you’ll want to develop a plan for accomplishing that as soon as possible. You may be able to do a lot (or a little) clean up before December 31 rolls around. For the areas that you believe will take more time, the next step is to set up a clean-up plan.
For instance, if you identified the need to clean up the area of finances, then you might also need to set up a better spending and savings plan for the New Year, for example. Maybe you need to create a budget or go see a financial planner.
If so, get out your calendar or planner, and block out time (or personal appointments) for these tasks. Give yourself deadlines. Hold yourself accountable for following through on your plan until your finances are clean as a whistle.
What about health and fitness? What do you need to set up to ensure you get in the best health of your life next year? Is it a better meal plan, going organic or gluten-free, joining a gym, scheduling a physical, or starting to walk daily? What do you have to get in place now to ensure that you can clean up your health issues in the coming year?
When it comes to relationships, what do you need to set up? Maybe you want to have set days when you spend quality time with your kids. Get that on the calendar! Or you might want to have more date nights with your significant other—get that on the schedule, too, and start planning the fun and exciting things you’ll do together. If you want to heal a few relationships, plan how you will do that as well. You could decide to write a letter, which you could send before the end of the year, or to make a phone call. Pick up the phone now!
The overriding focus behind clean up and set up comes in the next step: level up. If you want to show up as your best self now and every day going forward, it’s necessary to determine who you want to become. What is your vision for yourself?
Once you know that—once you can verbalize or visualize yourself speaking, behaving, thinking, and living as the very best version of you—it’s time to determine what you need to do to make that vision a reality. How can you step into your best self in every one of these life arenas? How are you going to level up regarding your relationships, finances, health and fitness, career, and even hobbies and free time?
Answer these questions:
- What do I want to do better?
- How do I want to be better?
Maybe your answer is, “I want to improve the quality and amount of my free time.” Or “I am going to improve the amount of time I put towards contribution and service,” “I want to be a better parent,” “I want to be more patient,” or “I want to improve my health.”
How can you step into your best self in your career, finances, health, relationships, hobbies, or any other area of your life? Once you have an answer, it’s time to set that up, too. What do you need in place to ensure you do, indeed, level up in all the desired areas?
Be New Year Ready
Spend the time between now and New Year’s Eve thinking about these three areas and taking action to determine what you need to clean up, set up to help you do that, and how you will level up (and set that up, too). You’ll then have the ability to enter the New Year ready to crush it!
To step into your best self and to live your best life takes clarity and courage. You must know your next steps, plan how to make them, and then move forward body and enthusiastically. Start now, and you will be New Year ready.
What do you need to clean up, set up, and level up before the New Year? Tell me in a comment below.
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Photo courtesy GDJ / Pixabay.com