December is the Last Month: A Good Time for Endings

January signifies fresh starts. It’s a time to set goals and dream big. An essential component of planning is letting go – of too many priorities, of things that no longer work, of relationships that no longer serve you. December is the time to clear out and bring an end to the extraneous, the no longer used and the things that no longer attract us. You can’t grow to the next level if you are ensnarled by habits, relationships and obligations that need to end.

So why do we hesitate? What do we fear? Why do we continue to carry the weight of what we no longer need? In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud discusses the practice of “pruning.” Just like a flowering plant gets weighed down by too many blooms and extended stems, we stunt our own development by not cutting back to those things that are our priorities now. Pruning will bring us energy and allow us to fill-out/be fulfilled.

In my workshops on developing your vision, I often use the humorous advice from Yogi Berra: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.” So how do you avoid being lost? Set a vision and some pruning standards. Don’t just cut back and hope you’re doing it right. When done correctly, pruning is a strategic activity. It’s a process to get rid of what you no longer need so that you grow more of what you do.

Ask yourself the question: “If my highest wishes for myself/my organization were realized in the next 3-5 years, what would I see?” Observe those things in your life that align with the answer to this question and those that clearly don’t. If my vision is to have great health and vitality, smoking and excessive drinking don’t align with that. Misalignment is a red flag telling you that you need to end something to advance.

Have a clear vision. Set pruning criteria. Cut back and be prepared to blossom.