3 Powerful Steps to End the Year on a High

Written by on November 2, 2015 in Accountability, Sense of Purpose

End the Year on a HIgh


Ignore it if you will, deny it if you dare, but the reality is we are rapidly closing in on the end of this year and you know what that means, bloated schedules and for many a hefty dose of s-t-r-e-s-s.

It’s not that we don’t have plenty of reminders to get prepared; yet, no matter how aware we are that it’s coming, and try to avoid it, end of year stress happens, just like clockwork, because the triggers are always the same, too many commitments, end of year work responsibilities, crowds, family gatherings, add a dash of guilt for those unfulfilled goals, and all too often few hastily thrown together New Year’s Resolutions.

A lot of end-of-year related stress can be reduced – if not eliminated entirely – if we would recognize ahead of time what our vulnerabilities are and make the time to plan accordingly, learn to prioritize the things that matter most and have more realistic expectations – and above all – stop over-committing ourselves.

No one can create negativity or stress within you. Only you can do that by virtue of how you process your world. ~Author Unknown

How to End the Year on a High

Even if you are someone who easily deflects stress and finds the rush of the holidays to be a part of the joy of the season there are several valuable year-end activities you can undertake to make the most of the remaining weeks ahead.

Make Time for Reflection

Begin by taking a little stroll down memory lane and give some thought to how far you’ve come this year. (If you journal or keep track of your goals this will be a breeze, if not then maybe that’s something you’ll want to add to your planning for next year.)

Identify the lessons you’ve learned and areas where you’ve grown so that you can be proud of and own your accomplishments by answering the following questions.

  • What are the most important life lessons you learned this year?
  • What have you accomplished since this time last year?
  • What is your most favorite memory of this year so far?
  • What have you learned about yourself this year?

Give yourself some time to think about these questions. Try keeping a notepad or a 3 x 5 card with you to jot down and save those fleeting thoughts as they pop into your mind.

Yes, yes, I know your handy digital device is more convenient, but the benefit of actually writing things down in black and white is that it helps you to clarify them, plus you’re more likely to do a little associated creative thinking and doodling, which has gained a lot of respect in recent years as a way of exploring concepts, staying focused and retaining information.

You might consider making this a family project and challenge everyone to list what they’ve learned and what they are most grateful for. This is a great habit to get the kids into and Thanksgiving would be the perfect time to share!

Reset Priorities

Now’s the time to reset priorities and expectations by reviewing commitments, and taking a hard look at that perpetually overflowing task list along with what remains of your goals for the year.

  • For each commitment ask yourself if it’s truly important, or has it simply become a habit?
  • Are there are unpleasant tasks or conversations you’ve been putting off? You’ll feel so much more at ease and confident once you clear lingering unresolved issues to start the New Year off free of old baggage.
  • Is there one thing on your list of goals that you didn’t get around to – but really wanted to? What could you do between now and the end of the year to accomplish it, or at least make some serious progress?
  • How could this Holiday Season be even better than the last? What are stress points that could be eliminated? What have you always wanted to do, but never managed to make the time for?*
  • Get a handle on hectic holiday schedules by sitting down early with the family and set up a holiday season calendar with events, outings, and activities.

*Once known commitments are filled in, why not give each family member an opportunity to contribute something to the list of things to do together this holiday season.

What about a family community project like collecting food for the needy or toys for a local shelter? Hang your holiday calendar in a prominent place, and be sure to keep it updated.

Recharge for the Weeks That Lie Ahead

You’ll thank yourself later if you will invest some time to clear physical and mental clutter now. Bring paperwork up to date and either properly store or toss it when you’re through. Get the family involved and go through your home room by room, collect those things you no longer want and either dump or donate them to a local charity.

To pump up your energy if you don’t already follow an exercise regime start walking every day for at least 20 minutes until the New Year begins. Not only will you feel livelier but you will be avoiding the weight gain problems so common during the holiday season. You never know, you might just enjoy the walking so much that it could become a full-fledged habit for the New Year!

As the old saying goes, you may not be able to start over with a new beginning, but anyone can begin today to create a new ending and these are just a few ways you can end this year on a high and start the New Year raring to go!

Will you be the passenger or the driver in your life journey?
About Marquita A. Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living click here.

Thank you for sharing!

Tags: , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Pinterest Connect on Google Plus Connect on LinkedIn Connect on YouTube

48 Reader Comments

Trackback URL Comments RSS Feed

  1. That’s great Lisa and I agree with you about the value of taking some time to reflect and plan – we all need that from time to time. 🙂

  2. I think the most important thing I have done this week out of all the craziness has been to take time to reflect and to plan out the next three months. It can be hard to see how far you have come when you’re always on the go (I know it is for me) so yeah taking time to reflect is an excellent piece of advice.
    Lisa Ballinger recently posted…Make It HappenMy Profile

  3. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know you found value in the article!

  4. Glad you found value in the article Patricia, and thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation!

  5. You are welcome Chin and thank you for taking the time to let me know!

  6. Glad you enjoyed the post Pamela, and you are right about the curves and unexpected detours. I laugh sometimes when I see areal shots of our road to Hana because with so many curves it really does remind me of life. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Great point Diane about how for most of us life tends to mellow out a bit at the holidays when we get older. I wonder though if mother-in-laws are born without that particular gene because mine actually used to cause most of our year-end stress! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  8. Glad to hear it Donna, though not terribly surprised. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts – always appreciated!

  9. Thanks for stopping by Sue.

  10. So glad you found value in the article Kathleen, and yeah I’m a big believer in tracking our accomplishments. It’s not about ego but rather acknowledging our growth which – as you point out – often goes overlooked in the hustle of our busy days. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  11. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for taking the time to share Reba!

  12. Millen

    I love your gentle reminder about the importance of taking the time at the end of the year to reflect, reset and recharge. It is so easy to get drawn in a sea of busyness and lose the bigger perspective of your life…. I see the revisiting of the projects, priorities and goals like cleaning the house and maintaining mental clarity and focus. Great article, thank you.

  13. Patricia Weber

    In particular I benefitted from the Reset Priorities ideas. This one, “For each commitment ask yourself if it’s truly important, or has it simply become a habit?” struck a chord with me. This is exactly where I have been with my thinking of what I need to do! You’ve helped clarify a next step for me. Thanks.
    Patricia Weber recently posted…Self-Kindness to Kick off World Kindness Day #WorldKindnessDayMy Profile

  14. Thank you so much for this post Marquita. A much needed post for the end of the year and recharging for the new year. Post has been bookmarked for future reading and keeping things in check.

  15. I love your idea of using the end of the year to “re-boot” your life. And holding on to thought you can always try again. I ‘m a firm believer in all of us working to lose the “linear path” we see before us. The bad thing about a straight line , there are curves! And the las time I long at my life it was JAMMED packed with curves.
    pamela chollet recently posted…Moral Development: Raising Caring ChildrenMy Profile

  16. Diane Topkis says:

    I love this article, Marquita. I always try to start the year with good intentions and plans but sometimes life just gets in the way like it did for me this year with my mom’s illness. This is a great reminder to reset and end it with more mindful intention.

    Getting older allowed me to let go of holiday stress so that’s not an overly big problem. It’s more about seeing what I accomplished or not as a professional. You’ve inspired me to make a “gratitude of accomplishments” list now and then plan for a good year end.

  17. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    This time of year used to be so stressful for me. But I ended that a few years ago. Those holidays can really suck up your energy, so I started new traditions…I spend them alone with my husband, then do the visiting later on. I will not be forced to fly three thousand miles each year to spend it with family- too crazy for me.

    When it comes to business, I started evaluating already and am pleased to say that I did more this year than I’ve expected. Now that is a feel good way to end this year.

    Of course, I started plotting a course for next year, but I did “write in” a lot of my time in it.

    As for stress….I have a handle on that one…do what I want to do and never feel guilty about it.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…The Road Most TraveledMy Profile

  18. Sue Kearney says:

    Got it. Beautiful. Simple. And complete.

    Sue Kearney recently posted…Sharing birthday and Day of the Dead happiness — a gift for you!My Profile

  19. Marquita, your suggestion to identify the lessons we’ve learned and areas where we’ve grown so we can be proud of and own our yearly accomplishments is a great suggestion. I often focus so much on what I need to finish that I forget to give thanks for all I’ve done. When I take a second to focus on my accomplishments I’m often floored at all I’ve finished. Then I’m proud. The questions you posed in the article gave me a positive pause. By answering them I feel anyone can get back on track. Great article.
    Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos

  20. Reba Linker

    I love this: “you may not be able to start over with a new beginning, but anyone can begin today to create a new ending…” That is so true and truly profound. Thanks for helping us be prepared for 2016! xox, Reba
    Reba Linker recently posted…The Secret Sauce to the Success of “Does It Spark Joy”My Profile

  21. Glad you enjoyed the article Beth! Always appreciate your thoughtful insights. 🙂

  22. Good point Meredith! Learning to say no is directly linked to healthy personal boundaries and that’s an issue many people struggle with on a daily basis. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  23. Wonderful point Dana about questioning the nature of our stress. Sometimes we manage to effectively generate our own, but more often than we even realize stress is a bi-product of poor personal boundaries. That’s something that can be fixed, but not before acknowledging the problem and taking responsibility for the quality of our lives. Thanks so much for contributing to the conversation, always value your thoughtful insights!

  24. Sounds like a good plan Sabrina! So glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for taking the time to share here as well as what sounds like an amazing recipe in the latest post on your own blog!

  25. Sounds like a great plan Jeri. I think in particular periods of reflection following stressful life changing events can help us to feel better about ourselves and life in general. Sounds like you’re working your way through phase two of the life transition process and that’s a good thing.

  26. You are so right about the value of reflecting throughout the year Donna! Personally I take the last day of every month to review, reflect and prepare for the new month and it not only makes a big difference short term, but year-end planning is a breeze because there are no surprises. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation Erica. There’s no question that – for better or worse – having no kids or family close by makes a difference during the holidays. Though family-wise it really does tend to depend on the character of the individuals; my ex mother-in-law never let a couple of thousand miles of ocean keep her from finding ways to generate holiday stress. 🙂

  28. Glad you enjoyed the article and tips Dave! I must admit you’ve never seemed like one who would fall for the New Year’s Resolution trap. Neither do I as such, but I do take this time to regroup, readjust and prepare for a new year otherwise life has a way of blending in from one day to the next. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts – always appreciated!

  29. Glad you enjoyed the post Rose and I can’t help but think that whatever crazy you come up with only adds to the pleasure of the holiday season for your family. 🙂

  30. So glad you enjoyed the article and I’m with you Lenie, even with the business of the season I’ve always loved this time of year. Good luck with your adventures learning about Twitter – you can do it!

  31. Thanks for stopping by Catarina, appreciate your taking the time to contribute to the conversation.

  32. I’m not at all surprised you don’t tend to feel the stress Mark because you are so unflappable regardless of what’s going on around you. But you also make a good point about the fact that sometimes stress is less about what’s going on within us, and what’s going on around us and learning to not let the “stress gremlins” have their way! Always value your thoughtful sharing Mark!

  33. Glad you enjoyed the article Phoenicia, and of course I agree with you about the importance of priority management – it really makes all the difference in the world. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  34. Good point Lea about gratitude, and there’s no question that some days we need to search a little harder for examples. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and contributing to the conversation.

  35. Beth Niebuhr

    I love this post! Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become. That sums it up so beautifully and is so inspiring. I like the idea of assessing what you wanted to do this year and didn’t and if they are important, eating the frog and getting them done!
    Beth Niebuhr recently posted…5 More Tips for Writing Blog PostsMy Profile

  36. Meredith

    I’m in total denial, but I realize I should snap out of it or I’ll be drowning pretty soon. These are some great tips! I would add something about not being afraid to say no to things. (I guess that falls under priorities.)
    Meredith recently posted…Draw Out Your Creativity!My Profile

  37. Dana

    Hi Marquita,

    I appreciate reflecting back on the year and taking inventory – as opposed to “making resolutions”.

    And it’s true that the upcoming holidays can bring about feelings of stress – and even performance anxiety to try and get as much done as possible.

    I think this is an great time to question the stress itself – and see how our thoughts and assumptions about things in general contribute toward whatever discomfort shows up in our lives – which are usually heightened when the year comes to a close.

    I have found that these feelings tell us a lot about ourselves, and can be pretty revealing about our overall perspectives if we’re willing to listen.

    For example, knowing how much discomfort I used to feel in regard to my weight in the past had led me to realize that I needed to make healthy living my overall goal instead of a resolution. The pain of it all caused me to question my own habits and behaviors – which ultimately led me to finding freedom by tackling the cause which led to the effect I needed to change.

    So yes, I wholeheartedly believe in questioning things…and reflection is a great way to start on that.

    Great post as usual Marquita. We seem to think alike 🙂
    Dana recently posted…Ditch the New Year’s Resolution and Take Charge of Your Well-Being NowMy Profile

  38. Sabrina Quairoli

    This is a great reminder! I usually stop posting two weeks and do recap posts so I can focus on the new year and the new topics. This year I am starting in November. To give me more time to make changes. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.
    Sabrina Quairoli recently posted…Chocolate Chip Yogurt Muffin RecipeMy Profile

  39. Jeri

    I’ll be deep in reflection mode these next two months. My therapist even told me to literally get out a yardstick and look at how far I’ve come in the past year and how well I’ve done considering how horribly wrong things with the divorce apocalypse. I don’t have a yardstick, but I get her drift. It’s so important we never, ever stop working on transforming ourselves and being the best person we can be. I was definitely hibernating a bit over the years, but am now so awake. Oh the irony of the worst year of my life also being one of the best.
    Jeri recently posted…#WritingPrompts: 52 Memoir PromptsMy Profile

  40. Donna Janke

    Good points about ending the year on a high. I like your set of questions for reflection. If we don’t take the time to seriously look at how far we’ve come, it is easy to let the negative items or things that didn’t get done colour our perspective. I think it is good to use these questions for reflection at several points throughout the year as well.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Polesden Lacey and Its Society HostessMy Profile

  41. Erica says:

    Yes…I think we should all write with good old fashioned pen and paper from time to time. It does seem to access a different part of the brain. I personally don’t have a lot of holiday stress. My husband and I live on the other side of the country from family. So we really don’t have any holiday obligation except maybe a work party here and there. I’m sure it is much more stressful when you have kids. At least these days though you can buy gifts online. I remember as a kid that parents would wait outside the store for hours to get the hot toy of the season. Still, I know there are a lot of people who feel that they are stretched too thin this time of year.
    Erica recently posted…Dangerous Foods: Should You Give Up Processed Meats?My Profile

  42. Dave

    I have to admit that I sometimes feel like a scrooge this time of year. Just the thought that there are seven Mondays left before Christmas makes my heartbeat accelerate to uncomfortable levels.

    You provide some great ideas for ending the year on a high note. I’ve always felt that placing an arbitrary importance on Dec 31 as the end of something and Jan 1 as the beginning of something new adds unnecessary pressure to am already hectic time of the year.

    I still have goals and ambitions. I just don’t necessarily force them to be completed our begun on Jan 1 This alone helps to relieve some of the tension that seems to become so prevalent this time of year.

    Thanks for sharing Marty, keep these nuggets of wisdom coming, I’m lovin them!
    Dave recently posted…Secret RendezvousMy Profile

  43. Ah, holiday stress…I self-impose it every year. My family lives far away, so what I bring on, I bring on intentionally! Yes, I am a crazy person.
    For goals not yet met, I am regrouping (your Resilient Attitude has impacted me) and redefining–clarifying–what it is I really want to achieve. Just doing that eliminates the end of year stress and I think it will set me up for success in 2016. Sharing this post!
    Rose M Griffith recently posted…How You Can Help a Blogger GrowMy Profile

  44. Lenie

    Marquita, this is an excellent post – I really like the suggestion for getting everyone involved. I love Christmas and the whole holiday season but for years I wanted to make it perfect for my family and did so much that when Christmas arrived I was a total stressball. Now the traditions have been thrown out, everyone pitches in and Christmas is once again enjoyable.
    The one goal not completed has been to learn what Twitter is really all about. I tweet and retweet, I follow and have followers but have no idea how it all works – I think I`ll try to make the time now. What a motivator you are. Thanks for sharing this post.
    Lenie recently posted…Lavender Spa Treatments – DIYMy Profile

  45. Catarina says:

    Good points you make about ending the year on a high, Marquita. Maybe I’m the exception because Christmas & New Year doesn’t stress me. Reflecting and learning is part of my routine all year round. And it definitely has a positive impact on my life.
    Catarina recently posted…What makes you follow a leader?My Profile

  46. Mark

    Excellent advise Marquita!

    And you know, until you articulated it so well, I never thought of all the reoccurring year end activity as stressful!LOL!

    Just busy! But when you really stop to examine everything that’s typically going on around that time of year, you’re absolutely right!

    The sress gremlins are certainly having their way & slowly taking their toll on us!LOL!

    Thanks for offering some extremely practical tips for effectively dealing with potentially stressful time!
    Mark recently posted…Five Extremely Powerful Marketing Lessons A Trip To The Grocery Deli Taught Me!My Profile

  47. Phoenicia

    I relate to this article in a number of ways. Firstly, there is a level of anxiety as the end of the year approaches. Thoughts of my accomplishments and lack of them take up brain space.

    I like that you mention priorities as oppose to managing your time. Time management only works when we set realistic priorities.

  48. Lea Bullen

    Hi Marquita,

    The year seems like it flew by, but I guess nearly every year does around this time.

    You listed some great questions to reflect on, comparing yourself from the previous year. This is a good time to look back and dig deeper into you so you can sort out how to prepare for the following year.

    To end on a high note, I would look back and find the things to be grateful for. As this time of year brings on stress, as you mentioned, it’s good to remind yourself that there is goodness around.

    Talk soon,
    Lea Bullen recently posted…What You Need to Do to Get Unstuck and be SuccessfulMy Profile

%d bloggers like this: