2021 is coming to a close. Is it just me, or did 2021 fall into some sort of time warp and now we are here at the end of it?! It’s time to think about ending the year well.
The end of the year is a part of our yearly cycle of renewal, rest, and rejuvenation. As humans, we thrive in cycles.
- In a 24-hour period – we have day and night.
- In a week – we have work days and weekends.
- In a year we made a trip around the sun – we have weather seasons, and seasons like summer break, back to school, and the holiday season.
Our bodies intuit these cycles by daylight and circadian rhythms. We hear songs on the radio that cue us into a new season. We see red cups at Starbucks and our heart skips a beat with excitement for a new season.
Cycles are part of our DNA.
So this is a season to end a cycle of a year and to reflect and restore ourselves for the next cycle to begin in January.
Here are three questions to think about as you head into the holiday season that will guide you to create a meaningful end to the year.
What is the most important thing about the holidays?
Let’s start with remembering what is most important to you during the holidays. Whether it be family, or tradition, or faith, or vacation, what is a word that would summarize the MOST important element of the holiday season for you?
For me, the word is FAMILY.
This is a time when I make time to be with family – immediate and extended. We gather. We eat. We play games. We laugh. We tease. We hug. To me, it’s all beautiful.
But I can get distracted by the holiday hustle and bustle and miss the moments with the family that I desire during this season.
So the next question is: What do you need to do to prioritize that thing that is most important?
- Make time for it?
- Create it?
- Schedule it?
- Be present to it?
- Notice it?
- Express gratitude for it?
What is it that you will need to do in order to place that thing at the center of your focus?
For me – in order to keep family as my focus, I need to be present. And in order to be present for my family, I can’t have too much stress, hurry, and hustle happening. I need to make space to slow down.
For me, that means planning and working ahead so that during the holidays I can slow down in the moment and be more present. It also means not filling up the calendar too much. I need margin. Finally, it means simplifying my Christmas to do list by gifting experiences rather than “stuff”.
What will you do to prioritize what’s most important this holiday season?
What do you like to do to reflect on the year?
This season is also a time of reflecting on the year that has past and refocusing for the year ahead. For one chapter (or year) to begin, we have to bring the previous chapter to a close. Thus, a big piece of ending the year well is to acknowledge the peaks and valleys of the year, to process all we’ve been through and bear witness to the year.
How will you acknowledge the trials of this year? What “valleys” need to be mourned and honored? Maybe it’s a death, a loss, a diagnosis, an unwelcome change, or a hard decision. There are things that need to be witnessed and acknowledged that are not the pretty, highlight-reel moments of the year. What closure do you need to usher in for yourself?
How will you celebrate the triumphs of this year? What “peaks” need to be savored and relived? Maybe it was an accomplishment, a promotion, a desire fulfilled, a bold decision. There are things that happened this year that are worth celebrating and acknowledging. How can you experience gratitude for these things of 2021?
Do you have a tradition for how you reflect on the year? I have a client who does a serious journalling session to reflect on the year that is ending. For others, they take a moment to be still and think. Consult a list of questions to guide your reflection if you need it. Whatever you do to reflect, make it happen!
How will you make reflection part of your December plans?
What do you need this season for restoration?
Part of ending the year well is taking time to slow down. While there are many things that will compete for your time and attention over the next few weeks, there is an opportunity to slow down and intentionally restore your energy.
Every teacher I know gets at least a week or two off during this time. How can you use some of that time to purposefully restore your energy gas tank?
For me, I know I need to get away. We are going to the beach for part of our holiday plans this year. I can’t wait to put my toes in the sand, watch my kids play in the waves, and read a good book. I will also be there with my family! So it’s a win win because it will restore my relational energy and my physical/emotional energy.
What restoration do you need?
How will you make it happen?
Ending the year well
Remember that no matter what you think you “have to” or “should” do during the holiday season, YOU are in control. You are in charge of your end of the year plans! You can decide what to take off your calendar. You can choose what to do and how much space you take for you.
Take a moment right now, and make an intention or two for your holiday season. Then, make a plan for how to make it happen.
Comment below and let me know your holiday intention! (OR send me a beach book idea!)
Take care and happy holidays!