As we move closer to finishing off the very defining 2020 year, we should take some quality time to consider how we close and finish the year. An intentional and conscious approach to closure will serve us infinitely as we transition into 2021 with what it has in store for us.
Our general approach to closing a year off normally starts with planning to take some time off for rest and rejuvenation, and we plan backwards to complete outstanding items. If you are like myself, the month leading to the date of leave is normally at a heightened break-neck pace in order to finish off all tasks that are required to be completed and also to ensure a smooth transition to the next year. This year though, we were dealt a vastly different hand. The global pandemic rocked the very core of our existence and changed us and our work ways significantly.
This year, we should try something different and attend, not only to the tasks we need to finish, but also to the process of ‘finishing.’ This can yield some surprising insights and frees us up to be receptive to 2021. Bluma Zeigarnik, a Lithuanian psychiatrist, and a protégé of Kurt Lewin, found that people remember the unfinished parts of a task for longer than those that are finished and quickly become a distant memory. This is called the Zeigarnik effect and psychological energy and tension is released by attending to closure.
Without forgetting to finish tasks, consider the following additional approach to personal closing. Start with acknowledging the changes that have happened for you, and name these changes. In doing so, consider what is different, what remains the same and what shifted fundamentally. Allow yourself the luxury of time to reflect and preferably engage in the discussion with someone. This way, it will not be an ‘in my own head’ reflection which goes nowhere.
Look back at the experience of the whole year from beginning to end and describe the key learnings. Think about how the learnings occurred, what meaning you make of the experience and which relationships were impacted. For any ‘unfinished business’, name this continuing work and bracket it (for now), to be opened as a new unit of work in the 2021. Let’s not forget to celebrate our achievements, with a ritual that suites our personal way of having fun and letting go.
When closure and reflection is done well, we free ourselves for something different, something new and to be able to get the best possible rest and rejuvenation for what comes next. Onwards and upwards to 2021.
Your personal roadmap to 2021
- Plan the day you will stop working for your year end break.
- Create a task list and plan your time to get everything complete.
- Create a personal process to attend to the closure approach in this article, schedule the required conversations and reflective time and hold yourself accountable.
- Consider the state of your relationships with colleagues, friends and family and consider how you will close off, enhance and celebrate the fluidity of deeper connection.
- Plan your celebratory and leisure time to maximise rejuvenation and connection to yourself.
- Make a fresh start in 2021.