Gearing Down or Sprinting to The End of 2023?

December 21, 2023

I’m Sonja.
Leadership Specialist and Creator of The Expansion Practice. Also a travel enthusiast, dog lover, fanatic for all the books (on all the subjects), and an advocate for intuition.

Are we beginning to gear down or are we in the 5th gear of overwhelm right about now?

Wherever you find yourself, I welcome and invite you to join me with my favorite holiday mantra:

I release all the external expectations & self-imposed deadlines I’ve been hustling towards as the end of the year approaches.

Anyone else need this one? 🙋🏻‍♀️

After finishing up my client work for the year, the overarching theme in these last sessions was eerily (yet not surprisingly) similar: how can I pull together the little energy I have left and make a sprint to the end? 

It was not, how can I let go of some of these things and perhaps enjoy this time? 🤔

Consider this a friendly reminder that you don’t have to tick everything off that master checklist of yours before the end of the year. You do not need to get to all those great ideas and special projects you had in mind to tie up the year with a nice bow. You also do not need to add anything more to the list or hustle any harder to get it all done in these final days of 2023. 

Not getting to them all does not make you unworthy or undeserving of time off or enjoying this time of the year. It means you are fully human. Welcome to the club!

My end of year has not gone according to my beautifully laid out plans. It rarely, if ever, has. I continue to create grand plans but with each year that goes by, I soften into this reminder that so many of my to-do’s are self-imposed and arbitrary.

This time of year, especially, I find my list has a mind of its own. It’s not coming from any real depth or thoughtful reflection. It’s transactional. Just about getting things off my plate.

When I go deeper with this inquiry, I notice that some of them are coming from someone else’s expectations altogether. They’re not even my own. 

That’s why the end of December has become all about heartfelt reflection and connection for me.

I set an end date for my to-do list (read: I roll several great ideas into the new year when I know my rested and creative self can dive into them with the right energy) to ensure I have the time and space to rest and reflect on: 

  • The year coming to a close,
  • How I feel and want to feel as the New Year approaches, and
  • What intention I want to set for the year ahead.

This time and process are non-negotiable for me and have been for close to 20 years now. It serves me in so many ways as I end the year and brings much needed perspective.

My process is a deep dive. I embark on a full year-in-review where I read through my journals from the year, pull out themes and lessons learned (as well as those I’m still working through), and celebrate the achievements that I otherwise may lose sight of in the ongoing hustle and bustle (like becoming a published author in 2023!). If you don’t journal, you can do the same process by going through your annual calendar and photos to help jog your memory.

If that all feels overwhelming, but you’re looking for a way to simplify the rest of December, consider these reflection prompts instead:

  • Is everything on my list (personal and professional) really needed before January? Is that true or did I arbitrarily make the end of the year my self-imposed deadline?
  • If I’ve taken on more than I can realistically accomplish in these remaining days, is there another way I can achieve a specific objective? Can I call in support, delegate, or deliver the project in a different way?
  • What can I take off my list altogether? What can roll into the New Year?
  • Can I make space for some ‘not’ doing?
  • And before I say an automatic ‘yes’ to anything else, can I take 24 hours to consider my response and get back to the person asking? (Hint: the answer is yes!)

As you gain clarity on your to-do list, and ideally create more space for yourself, I invite you to look at what you would rather be doing as this year comes to a close.

Can you show up for yourself the way you’ve been doing for others all year long?

Can you invite some playfulness and joy into this time?

Who do you want to be connecting and spending this time with?

Your answers to these questions are generally what nourish you. They are just as important, if not more so, than many of the items already on your list. Can you imagine what might happen if we prioritized them in the same way?!

I would love to hear what’s resonating for you and if you’re considering making a change or two to the end of your year as a result. Leave a comment below and let me know.

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