I struggle with endings. It does not matter if it is the end of a relationship, a movie, an art project or a fitness schedule – I have always struggled to end it well. It’s not that I lack perseverance or ability, but rather I find that I get bored. I lose interest in what I am doing. The excitement and challenge of the beginning has ended and with it so does my passion. So, I just stop. Then I move on to the next thing.
I never really noticed this about myself, until my husband pointed it out to me after we had been married a few years. We were packing for a weekend away and I had jammed all my clothes and toiletries into a gym bag. I left it at the door for him to pack in the car. A while later, I noticed that he had not packed my bag in the car. When I asked him why he had not put it in the car, he replied that he thought I was not finished packing. I sarcastically pointed out that the reason I placed the bag at the door was because I was finished packing. He turned to me and explained wryly that in his world, when one was finished packing, they zipped the bag closed! As I looked at my bag stuffed to overflowing with clothes, books and brushes - I just started laughing. In that moment I realised I was so bad at finishing things that I never even zipped my bags closed! If I struggled with finishing the little things, I needed to consider how I was finishing the bigger things in my life.
When I took time to look at my life, I realized that I was bad at finishing a lot of things. For a time, I ascribed it to the fact that this was simply my personality type. According to one of those personality tests, I was an Initiator. That meant I like to start projects and get them off the ground, then I like to hand them off to someone else. And it is true, I am an initiator. I thrive on creating new things and designing new experiences. I love beginnings – with all their excitement and uncertainty.
But when I only focussed on beginning new things, I found that I kept making the same mistakes. Even though the projects I was doing were different, I kept running into the same challenges. You see – if we do not take time to end things properly, we never review what we have done and we never learn from it. We just keep jumping from one thing to another, never learning.
It was Solomon who said that 'the end of a thing is better than its beginning' (Ecclesiastes 7:8). It took me years to really appreciate the wisdom in this saying! An end is better, because we have now done something. Whether we succeeded or failed is almost irrelevant, the issue is we tried and finished and we learnt something. If you failed, you learnt key lessons in what NOT to do. If you succeeded, you learnt some key lessons in what TO do. Either way, you are in a better place than when you started!
Beginnings are great, but I believe that it is in the endings that we glean the most wisdom and growth.
Once I understood this concept, I was able to embrace the endings in my life. I now recognize when something is finishing (or needs to be finished) and I do the necessary to work to end it well. I have also learnt that ending well, brings the best beginnings!
Right now – we find ourselves at an ending. The end of the year 2021. We can choose to rush right through it in a flurry of social events or Netflix binges or we can choose to end this year well. We can choose to use this ending to create the best beginning for 2022.
How do we do that?
I believe that taking time to review your year – highlighting the struggles and successes - is one way to end well. I started the practice of reviewing my year some time ago and it has, hands down, been the most empowering tool to help me face the new year with fresh passion and purpose. No matter what happened during my year – awesome or awful – Holy Spirit uses this important time of review to prepare and focus me for the next part of the journey with Jesus.
I call it my 4R Annual Review.
I want you to be able to benefit from this as well. Maybe you have never done a review and are not sure where to start. Don't worry! You can access the template that I personally use for my own review. I want you to be able to finish 2021 well, so that you start off the new year with your best foot forward. Click here to access the 4R Year end Review.
I’ll be working on mine this week and I hope that you will too! Let’s end 2021 well so that we are prepared to run with God in 2022!
He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration