Finishing the Year Strong – One Easy Idea


Sometimes December has the feel of the late stages of a marathon.  The work, like those 26.2 miles, keeps coming, and you really start to just want it to be over.  Even harder than those moments late in a marathon are the moments late in an 18 or 20-mile long training run (where there’s no cheering crowds, finishers’ medals, and bananas at the end!). Sometimes our year-end work has that banality to it. It just . . . needs . . . to . . . get . . . done . . .

I learned one trick that might help you finish your 2012 real strong.


Mentally retrace your steps from the start of the run – or the year – or a key project.  Visualize that first hill.  See that long stretch by the river.  Remember how you got through that part near Michigan Avenue that you always hated.  It kind of amazed me how much there was to go over — wow! I’ve covered a lot of ground — and it gave me a sense of momentum.  Small wins, steps along the way are a big deal.  Kouzes & Posner say so in their book The Leadership Challenge, John Kotter lists those small wins as a key in his 8 steps On Change.

This method of recall-for-momentum can work for you as an individual.  Of course it also helps when you are leading others in this time — of waning daylight and waning days.  Kim Cameron picks up the small wins and momentum theme in his work on positive leadership, and one of his contributions is to communally note those wins; celebrate them and make them public.  Change and progress come when we have some sense that we’re not starting every day from scratch.

You can do this, finishing strong,

Leading with your best self!



  • Excellent advice. We tend to adapt so quickly to our circumstances that it is easy to miss how much they yield to steady incremental effort. One of the benefits of keeping a journal is that it reminds me how transient most obstacles are, and how much progress I have made. This never fails to recharge my momentum.

    • Sam,
      I love the connection to the journal. I take it your read yours from time to time? I used to write religiously, but I so seldom did what you’re suggesting and went back to see the movement!

  • Yes I reread mine frequently, sometimes even just a few days later (often an interval sufficient to resolve whatever was bothering me). I think I write not just for catharsis but to prove to myself that the things I’m getting hung up on never last. But rereading would be a more searing experience had I not learned to phrase things in ways that won’t be too embarrassing should the outcome mock my expectation.

  • I do not journal, but I write good notes in my planner. I like to revisit the year by reviewing my planner/ calendar. It’s a reminder of how quickly time passes and that I need to slow down and take in (and learn from) the opportunities that present themselves throughout the year.
    Thank you for the reminder.

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