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Knowing How To Finish


Sports teams are often coached on how to finish a game. In chess, it has a specific name, the endgame, describing how to win the game when there are few pieces left on the board. In card games its called endplay. By now you know for sure that we are in the endgame of 2013 and whether the year has been terrific or lousy, you need to close it out properly and finish. Here are my suggestions:

  • Celebrate your successes. What were your biggest wins? Reflect on what went well and take a moment to do something to reward yourself. Do this with your team and see what they have to say.


  • Lock in the lessons, both positive and negative. What were the most important lessons you learned in the last 11 months? Professionally and personally. Review them and perhaps even write them down for future reference. It is particularly hard to learn a negative lesson multiple times.

  • Take stock of your physical health. Where are you strong or at least in reasonable condition? Where are you in need of improvement? Create a plan to address any concerns because nothing impedes performance like health issues. And if you need me to remind you to get a check up, you are overdue.
  • Note unfinished business. The calendar is an artificial construct, and we don't just start over in 2014. What big projects or issues did not get addressed in 2013 that you need to finish in the next 12 months?

  • Determine where you need help. Either for your organization or you personally. What kind of assistance or advice would help you to achieve your objectives for the next year? The sooner you get it, the more time you will have to make an impact in 2014.

  • Clean up. Take a half a day to purge files, clean your office, get piles and stacks under control, and of course, throw out what you don't need. When I work on strategy with executives, they are simply unable to focus without distraction with a bunch of "stuff" around them. I doubt any of you can sustain focus without having control of your workspace. True at home too! 

Sisyphus had to roll a boulder up a hill every day in Greek mythology, only to have to start again from the bottom of that same hill at sunrise and do it over again. Our lives don't need to be like that--every year should bring with it the opportunity to be different, even better, than the last.  Do these things and close out 2013 well and you'll start 2014 at the top of one hill, ready for the next.