“In the end, it all begins”
Saji Ijiyemi  (wrote Don’t Die Sitting)

To say that 2020 was a surprising year is a vast understatement. Many people I know had challenging years, some had unexpected successes, and no one had the year they originally envisioned.

Yet now 2021 is on the horizon, a year whose pages are still blank, whose days are full of potential, and whose weeks hold possibilities just begging us to imagine them.

Some think the division between years is an arbitrary marker, and I suppose for them it is. For me, it is a marker that coincides closely with the winter solstice of the northern hemisphere. The darkest day will pass. We will move once again into the light. There is a refreshing winter holiday gap for many of us before 2021 begins.

Now is the time I work to close the current year and be ready to embrace the potential of the new.  Here are five things to consider in the waning weeks of the year.

Reflect on accomplishments.  One of my clients recently was concerned about their lack of progress. When we listed all the accomplishments from the year, he was amazed. I encourage you to look backward with a positive focus.  Even where there were disappointments, shift focus to the learnings or the very fact that you survived. 

Think big.  Think big about what can be accomplished by the end of 2021. I like looking ahead to a more distant horizon. Distance gives so much more confidence in what is possible. I imagine the great things that can happen. This provides impetus to start toward that horizon with actions right now.

Determine your keystone. Looking at the whole blank page of the year can be overwhelming. Think about this. When building an arch, it is locked in place by a keystone. A success as strong as the strongest arch can be built with a keystone habit. What is the one keystone habit you want to start 2021 with?

Hold a ceremony to separate the years.  For the last twelve years or so, I have hosted a bonfire on New Year’s Eve.  Before midnight people throw into the fire pieces of paper inscribed with what they want to leave behind.  At 12:01 AM, people throw into the flames their intentions for the new year.  The fire burns away the undesired. The fire sends up our best intentions to greet the sunrise of the new year.

To magnify the power of these steps, do them with your co-workers. Do them with your family.

The best way to have an exceptional year is to start it that way.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

A bonfire to start the new year.
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

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