It’s common to celebrate beginnings. But most people don’t have a strategy for finishing, much less finishing strong. Should you sigh and just be glad it’s over? Should you grieve? Should you dance?
When it comes to closing out a year, I’ve developed a habit of doing a year-end review. Experience has taught me that when you leave a job, a relationship, or a season in life without learning from it – and addressing the emotional impact of the lessons – you are likely to face the same test again in the next thing you start. It’s frustrating when you feel like you’re going around the same mountain over and over instead of making progress to a higher elevation.
Why a Year-End Review?
Extensive research by Dr. J. Robert Clinton, professor of leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, resulted in the conclusion that more than 70% of leaders do not finish well. He bases this startling statistic on six criteria, gleaned from common traits among leaders who did not finish well according to their own self-analysis, or the analysis of their peers and followers.
- First, leaders who do not finish well lose their learning posture. They stop listening and growing.
- Second, their strength of character wanes.
- Third, they stop living by their convictions.
- Fourth, they fail to leave behind enduring contributions.
- Fifth, they stop walking in an awareness of their influence and destiny.
- Finally, leaders who finish poorly lose their once vibrant relationship with God.
In addition, Dr. Clinton states that leaders who do not finish well begin to withhold their hearts from others and turn away from the influence they could have.
This list is more than enough motivation for each of us to examine ourselves. As you close out a year, it’s important to protect your faith in people by forgiving quickly and communicating clearly. Let go of anger by identifying what fuels it and eliminating negativity. And ask yourself, “where can I improve?”
What to Include in a Year-End Review
The year-end review is worth documenting so you can return to it. I record my answers in my journal. If you don’t have a journal, start a folder on your computer and keep your thoughts in a place you can find them next year when you want to look back.
These are some of the questions I work through.
What is your biggest lesson of the year?
What is your proudest accomplishment this year?
What didn’t work for you this year?
Have you over stretched or under stretched yourself?
Where have you been losing energy? List the negatrons in your life. (Negatrons are the negative attitudes, activities, people, or habits that drain you.)
What was the major theme that kept recurring?
If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be?
Some options could be: Drama, romance, adventure, comedy, mystery, tragedy, disaster, family, musical? Or a combination?
I would love to read your answer to the last question if you wish to leave it in the comments below. Here’s to a finishing well!
“There we both sat and rested for a while, facing the rising sun the way we’d climbed, for looking back can sometimes help you on.” – Dante