Closing the Chapter: Navigating Endings and Beginnings in 2023

#LeadandLift | Episode 99 | Chabidaye Jaglal Ramnath

Earlier this year, I became an author with the Anthology Ready, Grow, Connect. It was a goal I had set for myself and what I learned through that writing process is that we should end the chapter while setting an intention for the next chapter.

It’s that feeling of hope for what happens next that keeps a reader engaged and eager to turn the next page. Perhaps a lot of bad things happened this year but it is only one of the chapters of the whole book. This new year is an exciting opportunity for all of us to turn the page.

How are you ending your chapter, and what new intentions are you creating for the new year? Keep in mind that you are not the same person that you were when you started the year. The experiences, highs, and lows of the year molded you to become stronger and wiser.

It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you made this past year, you have become a better version of yourself overall.

Today, I want to share a simple framework that you can take with you as you end this chapter in your life story. I hope that you will be encouraged and pumped up as you begin to generate new ideas for the new year.

The stirring of change

A new year brings new hope. Change can happen either on the outside or the inside. An example of change that happens outside is a layoff or a breakup. Change that happens from the inside starts when you begin to feel like you were meant to have more, that you deserve to be appreciated, or that you deserve to work on projects that you enjoy.

Change is stirring from the inside and the ability to change your life is within your power because you are the CEO of your life - you are the captain of your ship. It’s time to embrace change because whether you want to or not, change will happen as long as we are alive. That is why one of the most important skills that we all should learn is how to navigate change so that it doesn’t knock us over or surprise us when it happens. Instead, we can take these twists and turns and transform them all into lessons that will become acquired wisdom and strength.

Let’s jump right into the SMSM framework!

Stop and let go

The first S means Stop. Let go of all the things that no longer serve you.

What I love to do at the end of the year is to get into cleaning mode. I file my stuff away and create new filing systems and folders for the new year. It’s essential that we declutter our workspace and the same goes for our mental and emotional space too.

You can create space for new opportunities and growth by decluttering your mind.

With that said, try out this simple exercise: block out an hour off your calendar to do this activity. Grab a piece of paper or a new page in your journal, and draw a line from the top to the bottom of the page dividing that sheet into half. On the left side, write “stop” at the top, and on the right side, write “start”.

For the left side of the line, think about the things that you need to let go of, the things that you need to stop. An example of this is if you need to stop hanging out with certain people who bring only drama and negativity into your life. Another example is if perhaps you need to stop listening to the voice in your head that tells you nothing but negative things that make you doubt yourself. Write these things down, identify these problems, and commit to changing them in the upcoming year.

More of what you love

The second item in the framework is M and it means More. Turn the paper where you wrote “stop” and “start” to its back and write down your answer to this question: “What did you love that you want more of?”

The goal is to keep and increase the things that you loved having and experiencing this year. You may find that you’re very grateful that you have those items. Here are some examples of things that you might want more of: time with your family, time with your partner, or time with yourself and your self-care.

Gratitude is important - it’s more than just self-care, it’s a survival and growth skill that will help you throughout a lot of difficult times in life. Remember that gratitude isn’t only reserved for the good times, but also for the bad times when things don’t seem to be going as they should. Filling your time with more of the things that you love will help you become more grateful and happier.

“[Cultivate] gratitude of the highs and lows... The highs gave us wins and accomplishments, which we celebrated. The lows taught us important lessons, which we need to be successful.”

Start something new

The next item in the framework is S, which means “start”. It is the partner of the first item which is “stop”.

The “start” section is all about bringing to mind all the things that you would like to start in the new year. I’ll mention some examples and prompts that hopefully spark some ideas in your mind.

Are there any skills that you have always wanted to learn? Did you ever want to learn how to build a website or learn digital marketing for example? Is there a place that you’ve always wanted to visit, but have never gone to yet? What new activities do you want to share with your loved ones?

The most effective question that you can ask yourself to start thinking of ideas if you find it difficult is this: “If I had more courage, what would I start doing?”

Your answer to this question is very important, take what you have in mind and commit to stepping out in faith and courage and making that thing a reality. Speak up more at work, create better boundaries for work-life harmony, or work through your difficult emotions - do whatever it is that came into mind when you asked that question.

Measures are your GPS

The fourth path part of the framework is M and M is for measure. There are three key things in a journey: the first is the starting point, the second is the destination, and the third is the progress. Once you’ve determined where you are in your life right now and have gained clarity on where you want to be, then you can use measures so that you will be able to tell how close you’re getting to your goal or if you’re straying away from the path.

A lot of New Year’s resolutions fail because people set goals, but don’t set measures. If you set measures and make yourself accountable to them, then you can protect yourself from slipping back into how you were before.

“Don't just bumble into the new year with no intention or purpose.”

Here’s how you can apply measures that will help you with your growth: come up with a list of your life areas and score yourself on each one.

Measure these things: family, relationship with your spouse, spirituality or your connection to a higher purpose or being, your finances, your career or your mission, your hobbies, your health, and your mental and emotional well-being.

Once you are done scoring yourself in each of these areas, find out which one is your priority. Your priority takes center stage in your life, every other life area will be built around it, and it will always be the first thing that gets scheduled in your calendar.

Now that you have a list of your scores for each life area, look for all the areas that you want to improve at. Commit to doable activities that will help you improve in those areas. Do them consistently and track your progress weekly, monthly, and quarterly.

Habits will take over unless we actively change them. I suggest that you read some books about habits and how you can hack them. Here are my book recommendations: “Atomic Habits” by James Clear and “Tiny Habits” by BJ Fogg.

The marathon of life

I hope that the SMSM framework will help you end your chapter and begin the new chapter with renewed excitement! You made it through the year, through so many of life’s challenges, and now a new journey lies ahead of you. What are some new things you want to try? What are some hopes and dreams that you have for the next year?

The marathon of life continues and whether you run the race or not, you are in it. Get ready because new excitements await you in the new year!

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