how do you end the year and start another?

photo by Liz Kalloch

When this post goes live, Christmas will have come and gone and New Year will just about be here. When November is drawing to a close, I always get to thinking about how I want to wind up the current year and get ready for the next. Be it: cleaning my studio, choosing a word for my year, wrapping up projects and finishing up things that have been left undone, making lists of what I’d like to accomplish, creating a list of wishes to come true, or just going to a great new year’s party with good friends.

Whatever I choose to do I try to wrap up the end of the current year in a way that will feel complete and meaningful and fun.

I thought I’d ask some friends what they like to do to end their year, what practices they use, any personal rituals, review techniques and how they put out what they’d like to manifest in the year to come. Enjoy!

I journal a lot at the end of the year. I review journal entries from throughout the year and think about what the year has meant to me. I know that there’s a lot of pooh-poohing of New Year’s resolutions, but I find it very powerful to use the changing calendar as a time for positive self-reflection and considering what has been experienced and what can be created. I think it’s enormously important to take time to acknowledge oneself for that which has shifted–perhaps even more important than asking what one would like to see, next.

The old stand-by of making New Year’s resolutions has worked well for me, but in recent years I’ve added a twist: I think about how I want to feel. So if I want to start running more, I avoid the “to do list” trap, which is ultimately unfulfilling. I think instead about how I want to feel as a runner. Sometimes through this process of considering what I want to feel, I end up realizing . . . I don’t actually want what I think I want! If I see that taking XYZ action isn’t actually going to lead me to my desired feelings, there’s no point in taking that action unless I’m practicing masochism. When people ask me for advice about making resolutions, I start with: Know the birthplace of your wanting. Know what you want to feel.

Kate Swoboda is a life coach who writes about revolutionizing your life from within through the practice of courage.

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Recently I’ve been ringing in the new year rather quietly, an early dinner with close friends, home by midnight for some time alone spent with pen and paper imagining what the year ahead might have to offer both creatively and professionally. But this year I am sensing a shift toward something more exciting. Loud music and spilled champagne, dancing with strangers till’ dawn. My only resolution for 2012: HAVE MORE FUN!

Anne Carmack is the poetic product of a one night stand between two people she has never met. Her search for something still undefined continues. To learn more please visit properhands.

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To wrap up the year, I do a Year in Review reflection exercise where I acknowledge all of my accomplishments and learnings from the year and my favorite format to do that in is an Exploding Box. It’s a fun and visual way to recap the highlights from each month and it certainly feels celebratory! In addition to chronologically reviewing the year, I also like to take stock of what I’ve done in the different facets of my life such as career, health, relationships, finances, personal growth, etc. so I know where I might want to focus my energy next. To set my intention for the new year, I light a candle, write my goals on a card and place the card in my Wish Box.

Jennifer Lee is the founder of Artizen Coaching and the author of the bestselling book The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success.

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At the end of the year, I like to look back at my blog as a reminder of what I’ve done and what I’ve created in the last year. Sometimes there are things I’ve completely forgotten about! It’s a good way to reflect and celebrate what I’ve accomplished. At the beginning of the new year, I like to choose a word to focus on and make a piece of art to go along with it. Last year’s word was metamorphosis and oh boy, did it ring true for me. I’m not sure what next year’s word is yet!

Leah Piken Kolidas is an artist and new mom, living near Boston, MA with her husband, daughter, and their four crazy cats. You can find her at

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Near the end of each year I make a Mind Map to help me organize my thoughts and plans for the coming year. In fact, I just did this about 2 weeks ago. I felt like I had just about hit the wall with plans – some finalized, some still in ‘wish’ form – all drifting around in my head. I had this overwhelming need to organize. The nice thing about the Mind Map is its flexibility and I typically include every part of my life, from business pursuits (teaching, writing, selling my art, stencil company) to family plans to personal things ranging from my plans to nurture my spirit as well as my body. Seeing it all displayed on one large sheet of paper gives me comfort and a distinct way to approach the new year.

Mary Beth Shaw is a Mixed Media artist, workshop instructor and author of Flavor for Mixed Media, as well as a columnist for Somerset Studios.

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The year end is a great natural point to evaluate progress as well as plan for the future – though, I think that this type of evaluation should be done regularly for our businesses and our personal lives. The world is ever changing and we are constantly growing and changing ourselves, so I believe that it’s important to stop and reframe our perspectives now and again. I find it useful to reflect and realign my thoughts at regular intervals (monthly, quarterly, yearly) to make sure I’m still heading towards my ultimate goal.

I find it really helpful to have a mission statement that guides all my decisions – this can be your one word of the year – that is very general and loose. Then to have a second tier of general goals and finally a third tier of really specific measurable “wants” that fit under the goals and general mission statement. When I use this type of “system” for defining goals, I find myself much more successful and directed for the whole year!

Linda Tieu is an artist living in the Tuscan hills of Italy, blogging her adventures at Tortagialla.

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This might sound Scroogey, but in all honesty? I have never had a word for the year. I have never wrapped up the year. I have never even taken stock in that end-of-the-year-way. All those lists in the newspaper, the music critics’ “top ten of 2011” “Notable books,” “must haves,” and “don’t misses” – they just get my back up.

At some point during every year, I say to my friend Ronnie: “Lookit Ron…this is going to be our year, I can feel it. No seriously!” But it could be July. The year doesn’t have a beginning and end for me. Every day has its own opportunity or pitfall, no matter the season. It may be that I am lucky enough that there is no 9 to 5. It may be that I need more structure. I am trapped only in the routines of my own making. And I fail at routine. Then I do the laundry.

Jonatha Brooke is a singer-songwriter.

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I update my portfolio at the end of every year and print out any articles about my work. Doing this makes me step back and look at my art as a whole while pinpointing what others see in it. I base the coming year’s goals on what I discover (magazines to contact, galleries to target, articles to write, etc). I always come up with a new series around November, experiment with it in December and implement it in January. All of this happens while I try to create as much of my previous series as I can in December. It’s a hectic time but fun.

Kathryn Clark is a fiber artist living in San Francisco, CA. She writes a blog to inspire and inform other artists who work in the unique genre called Articraft: artists who use craft in their work and craftspeople who make art.

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All in all wrapping up 2011 has been a roller coaster of productive days, self doubt days, delightful days, days of hugs, days of “am I going forward or going backward?” or just letting it all fall away to play with bunnies and paint a watercolor for xmas cards. With all of the to-do’s and goals at year’s end, I find peace when I simply let go into the perspective that this year had it’s treacheries and successes; I worked hard, I did good, I’m still alive, I still love, and I’m looking forward to the adventures of 2012.

Niya C Sisk is the author of Bragging Bantering Bawling. She is gearing up for an amplified year of community building at the new Niya’s Place | A Consortium of Creative Letters.

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I always look forward to the end of the year simply because it means the start of a new one, and I thrive on newness! That punctuation mark gives me a space to stop and assess the past twelve months. I look at all the good things that happened over the year I am incredibly grateful for, as well as the things that didn’t go as swimmingly as hoped and find the lesson in them. Then I take that brazen goodness and those lessons and write them down, along with my new intentions and ideas, things I want to revise and things I want to construct. This is the foundation for the year that lies ahead that I put forth then let go of to see where it all takes me.

Lisa Occhipinti is a painter, sculptor, photographer, author and instructor living in Venice CA.

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Early in December I take time to reflect back on the year’s highs and lows. I usually make a list in my journal and close that page until after January 1st. In January of the new year I reopen that page and add a priority number to both the good and the not so good. With the not so good, I limit myself to three top issues. With a fresh page I make a row with the issues on the top of the page. Below them I brainstorm solutions, and ideas for improvement in those areas. I then take time to review the year’s achievements and list new ways of expanding the successful ideas which worked out well. I review the lists over the year to see where I stand and it gives me a boost or a kick sometimes, when I need it most. It’s a simple task, taking little time which feels like time well spent early in the New Year.

Susan Schwake is an artist, author, curator and instructor.

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For the past two years I’ve been going full-tilt: freelance work, grad school, writing, creative projects, life. Along the way I’ve had to keep reminding myself to breathe, to rest, and to honor the good work I’ve done. But I haven’t made time for much year-end reflection and new-year planning. This time around I think I’ll plan a whole day for each: one for reflection and one for planning. It feels indulgent just writing that, but it also sounds like just what I need.

Jenna McGuiggan writes, edits, and coaches from The Word Cellar, her twinkle-light-filled studio.

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My end of the year rituals are all about envisioning my best self in the coming year. I choose a symbolic animal to accompany me on the journey of the coming year. 2011 was the year of the hummingbird and I don’t know yet what 2012 will be. I choose a leading phrase (THE BOOK YOU WRITE FOR THE WORLD IS YOUR LIFE is 2012) and a single word that grounds me. 2012’s word is HONEY.

MOSTLY HAVE FUN! On the last day of each month I make a journal for the coming month. The journal I make on the last day of the year does set the tone for the year in terms of color and form and symbolism. I review my life mission statement. It’s changed very little over the last two decades but who knows? New Year’s Eve this year could find me EDITING a little what I think I’m on the planet to do. I’ll know in a matter of days.

mary anne radmacher has always believed that one person makes a difference and lives her days acting on that belief.

And you? How do you end your year and move into the next? We’d love to hear what you do!

However you celebrate the beginning of a new year, I hope the start of 2012 is a beautiful thing!

6 thoughts on “how do you end the year and start another?

  1. I’ve learned to make a new resolution that I can commit to. We had pledged to start a savings with our financial peace seminar by Dave Ramsey & we haven’t stuck to it. My goal is to be diligent in setting aside money for this so we can pay off debt & retire nicely!

  2. i remember reading a while back that january, being in the dead of winter, is actually a bad month to make resolutions- they say to try it in march when springtime rolls around! my resolution this year is to be happy. it sounds simple but it’s one of the most difficult things to allow myself to do! i had a lot of trials this year to fine-tune my talent for my own happiness, and now i’m eager to try it out. :)

  3. I love you ‘word’ …. “honey”!

    I do a lot of cleaning out and clearing. I review my vision board and make changes and additions. I make no resolutions EVER . . . I consider my goals, dreams, tasks and set intentions . . . I write out statements as if they have happened and consider the choices I might need to make to get me to where I want to be.

    Great post . . . thank you!

  4. for me today, on the last day of the year it will be making the luggage for our departure to South Africa tomorrow ,which is a quite emotional departure for the family because we have never made such a trip before and tomorrow , january 1st we’ll be in Johannesburg , a totally different environment from the one we’re used to …
    happy new year to everyone who’ll read that post

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