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6 Ways To Effectively Close Out the Year

December is a time when I like to do a lot of reflection and planning, to definitively close out the year so I’m ready to start fresh in the new one.

While the exact methods I use to review and reset in December do vary from year to year, there are a few principles that I’ve consistently found effective. Since my goal for this month is to wind down and close out the year slowly — rather than in a hectic, busy blur — I thought I’d share those principles today.

So here are some of my favorite methods to close out the year in a strong but simple manner.

Review & Reflect

Close out the year with reflection

I’m convinced that effective planning has to start with reviewing and reflecting. If you don’t know what has and hasn’t worked in the recent past, how can you get a solid idea of what will work in the near future? Besides, you can’t fully close out the year if you don’t look back on everything you’ve accomplished and learned — and what you’ve left undone — in that time.

I do most of my end-of-year reviewing in my bullet journal. I create a spread that includes these major categories:

  • Places I’ve traveled
  • Things I’ve done for the first time
  • Media highlights (favorite songs/albums, movies, TV shows, etc.)
  • Good investments of my money and/or time
  • A review of my overall goals for the year, in terms of both the progress I made toward them and how they evolved
  • Lessons I’ve learned
  • Things I’m grateful for
  • Things I want to start doing and stop doing in the new year

As I work through this review, I also like to compare it to the one from last year, to see an even bigger picture of how I’ve grown.

Start Early

I’ll admit, this isn’t my strongest area, but I’m working on making it more of a habit. The earlier you start to close out your year, the more time you have to spend closing all the loops and covering all your bases.

While I haven’t yet sat down and started actively reflecting, I have created a checklist of topics I want to cover, purchased my next bullet journal that I’ll work on setting up over the next few weeks, and thought briefly about some of the processes and routines I plan to re-evaluate.

Set Concrete Goals & Map Out a Timeline

After you close out the year, plan a timeline for the next

Again, I do this in my bullet journal. I only started actually mapping out a timeline a couple of years ago, but I’ve found it really helpful as a visual of whether I’m making progress or not and exactly when my plans change.

It’s also helpful if you have goals with several steps — which I recommend you do — so you can plan when each step needs to be completed by if you’re going to accomplish the entire goal.

Try Something New

Don’t forget that you still have a few weeks left in the year. Even as you work to close out the year, there’s still time to try adding something new to keep things fun and interesting.

If you don’t want to start up something new right now, however, consider planning it for the first quarter or so of next year — give yourself something exciting to look forward to as you plan what’s to come.

Choose What To Finish & What To Let Go Of

It’s inevitable that as we come to the end of the year, there will be tasks, goals, and ideas we never got around to finishing in the past 12 months. But don’t think that to close out the year completely you have to rush to fit all of those tasks in before January 1st.

Instead, choose one or two tasks that you can reasonably finish in that time, and schedule them into your December calendar. Then choose to let go of the other ones until next year (or for good, as the case may be).

Make Time for Yourself

Make time for yourself at the end of the year

For many of us, especially in the Western world, December is an extremely busy month and carries a heavy emphasis on family and togetherness. These are wonderful things, but don’t forget to take some time to yourself to rest and recharge before you jump into the new year.

Close Out the Year Strong So You Can Jump Into the Next

When you close out the year effectively, you create a clean mental break between the old and the new. Instead of pushing yourself to complete all the things, focus on a few key efforts that will have the most impact on your new year planning.

closing out the year creates a mental break between the old and the new.

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