At the start of my first marathon, I lined up with all of the runners at the start line. I was amped up by the sea of other runners. There was music blaring, cheering, and lots of good vibes. Those good feelings helped me start strong. In fact, they helped me start too strong.
I ran the first ten miles of the race much faster than my anticipated pace. While that might seem like a good thing, it wasn’t. Because by about mile 20, I was toast! I felt like I had nothing left to give, and I still had 6.2 miles to go. I felt defeated and like I might not finish the race. Regardless, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I went through the motions. Somehow, I made it to 24 miles—only 2.2 miles away from the finish. Tired doesn’t even come close to expressing how I felt.
And then I remembered something I’d been practicing for months—finishing the race strong. On every one of my runs I completed to train for the marathon, I practiced running the last bit of it as hard as I could, no matter how tired I was. So, I dug deep down inside of me. I gave myself some positive self-talk and took a moment to appreciate how far I had come during this marathon. I pushed through all of the pain I was feeling and started running faster, as fast as I could, and as strong as I could until I crossed that finish line and subsequently collapsed into the arms of a volunteer.
Even though I was beyond exhausted, it felt amazing. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing that you’ve done your very best.
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How to Finish the Year Strong
I don’t know about you, but the end of the year leaves me feeling one feeling above all else—overwhelmed! It always sneaks up on me and I find myself buried in to-do lists, not to mention feeling bad about all of the 2019 goals I set for myself that I wasn’t able to accomplish.
Perhaps you are feeling defeated as the end of the year approaches—like you can’t keep your head above water. I know exactly how that feels, and despite those feelings, you can still finish the year strong. Really. If I, a former couch potato, can finish a marathon strong, you sure as heck can finish 2019 strong. Here’s how:
1. Assess where you are.
It can be really easy when you are feeling overwhelmed to bury your head in the sand and try to ignore things like your finances, relationships, or other personal goals, but did you know that actually makes you feel MORE overwhelmed? Instead of burying your head in the sand, come to know where you are.
Where do you currently stand with your finances, relationships, or other personal goals? You simply cannot progress without knowing exactly where you are. Face those things head-on. If you lean into the overwhelm instead of trying to lean away from it, you’ll be able to take control over it. So do what it takes to find out where you are—take a look at that bank statement, have that conversation with your spouse, or hop on the scale. Whatever is making you feel overwhelmed, it’s time to face it head-on and find out where you are.
2. Change your mindset.
Just like I had to change my mindset during the marathon to finish strong, you’ll need to change your mindset in order to finish the year strong. I know that is easier said than done when you have deadlines, social gatherings, shopping, and really just an endless to-do list. But, if you really want to make December count and finish the year strong, you’ve got to get in the right mindset first.
What I mean is, take a second to think about why you are doing all the things you are doing. Frame your outlook with positivity. In short, put your happy pants on. Are you even enjoying the journey? What is the point of doing all of the things you are doing, if not to make you happy? Are you too stressed to function? Take time out of your busy schedule to get your mind right and get some perspective. Does whatever you are worrying about actually matter in the long run? Is it something you would be glad you spent energy on if it was your last day on earth? If not, don’t give it too much energy, instead, put yourself in the right mindset and you’ll be able to accomplish more and finish the year strong.
3. Focus on your progress.
Just like I focused on the progress I made during my marathon, you should focus on the progress you’ve made throughout to year to help you finish the year strong. Think back on your progress this year. What did you achieve? Don’t put a judgment on whether it was as much as you hoped to achieve but look at what you actually achieved. Maybe you paid off some debt, or improved a relationship, or achieved a goal. Celebrate it, be proud of yourself! Focusing on the good is always better than focusing on the bad. So, what things do you have to celebrate? Write them down!
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4. Identify the things you CAN control.
You might not be able to meet all of your 2019 goals by the end of the year, but you can finish the year strong by prioritizing the things that you can control by the end of the year.
What CAN you do? Are there steps you can take towards meeting some of your goals? If so, do those things! If not, don’t sweat it. Refocus and recommit to the things you can accomplish before the end of the year. Just like in my marathon, I couldn’t go back and undo the way I ran the beginning of the race. But I could focus on the miles I had left, which helped me finish strong and it will help you do the same.
5. Set realistic goals.
Speaking of goals, you’ll probably be setting some new years resolutions soon. In addition to those, you should set some goals that you can achieve by the end of the year. Even if you might not be able to accomplish everything you intended to accomplish by the end of the year, so what? You can accomplish something. So set some goals and finish the year strong.
6. Practice being grateful.
Another way you can finish the year strong is by taking the time to feel gratitude. I know that it can be hard when you are feeling busy and overwhelmed. But try it anyway. Be thankful for your relationships, for where your finances are, and for everything you’ve been able to accomplish this year, no matter how big or small.
Gratitude is the key to happiness and success. Happiness and success are the reasons you probably set goals for 2019 in the first place. So even if you didn’t accomplish everything you hoped, feeling grateful will still get you there in the end. You can have gratitude no matter what your circumstances are. (And if you need an example, here’s why I’m thankful for my $650,000 of student loan debt).
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7. Prioritize your health.
Another way you can finish the year strong is by making sure you are prioritizing your own health. Sometimes when things get busy and crazy, the first thing we allow to slip is our own health. You’ve probably heard this said before, but without our health, we don’t have anything. And it’s the truth! So squeeze in a little workout when you can, even a 10-minute workout can provide amazing benefits, and make sure you are eating some fruits and vegetables to help you keep your sanity and finish the year strong.
Happiness is a State of Being not a state of Circumstance
Just like I finished the marathon strong even though I felt completely defeated and overwhelmed, you can finish the year strong no matter how overwhelmed you might be feeling.
Remember that happiness is a state of being and not a state of circumstances. You can do this! If you need some specific guidance on how to handle the holiday overwhelm, be sure to check out Ruth’s post, Your Biggest Holiday Problems Solved.
Finishing strong isn’t about accomplishing every single task on your to-do list. It’s about doing what you can, doing it well, and enjoying the moment.
Happy New Year! You got this.