023: Closing Out 2020 and Preparing for 2021!





Well, hello, my friend. Welcome back to The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Ronda Nelson. I’m really excited that you’re here with me today because I’m going to be talking about one of my favorite subjects. I know I say that about a lot of things, but this one really is one of my favorite subjects. How do you close out the year to make room for the next year?


I know you’re probably rolling your eyes thinking, “Oh, geez, here we go.” But listen, just hang with me. I want you to think about a closet in your house that might be full of clutter. If you buy something new and you need to put it in there, how are you going to get it in there? You can’t. New things can’t come into your space if you don’t have room for them. So, what we’re going to talk about today, is how to clear all the messiness of 2020 out of your brain and make room for some new, cool, and exciting things in 2021.


Many years ago, I was working with my very first coach and she explained, “I want you to imagine that you are buying a book that you are so excited about reading. You open it up, you get through the foreword in the introduction, and finally, you’re at chapter one.


There are sections in a book, a subheader in each chapter. You’ll have section after section and each of these chapters has a theme. When you’re at the end of the chapter, there will be a period at the end of that sentence. You’ll then turn the page and what does it say? “Chapter Two.”


The years of your life are like chapters in a book,” she explained. “When you get to the end of the year, you need to make sure that you’ve put a period at the end of the sentence.” I love to read so, this is a good analogy. It made sense to me. She said, “You need to put a period at the end of the sentence, so you can turn to your next chapter and begin writing your story for the next year.”


I thought that was quite fascinating because the way that I had always thought of this, is a chapter that never has an ending. Who wants to read that book? It just feels like one day of your life goes into the next day of your life, and goes into the next day, and then it comes to the end of the year. Then next year is the same. We keep going and we keep going and we keep going, and there’s never a period at the end of this really long chapter.


When we take the time to think about what happened during the chapter, i.e., this year 2020, there’s a lot we could say about it, right? When you think about what happened in that chapter, that’s where we start to dial it in and think, “Okay, I need to put a period at the end of this sentence,” and all of us would be raising our hand five times over saying, “Yes, please, can we close this year because we never want to go through this again.”


We don’t know what 2021 is going to look like, but we still owe it to ourselves to close out the year with a good strong closing sentence so that when 2021 shows up, you’ve got space in your closet and you’ve got a brand-new blank page with a pretty good idea of what your headers are going to be. Remember those little section headers? We’re going to talk about that.


The first thing I want you to do is to get a piece of paper and write down all the things you did really well this year. It doesn’t have to be a major accomplishment, but it does have to be something that you could pat yourself on the back for and say, “Kudos to me because I nailed this. I did it.” I’ll give you a couple of examples. I am a singer. I have always wanted to take voice lessons but never have. I’ve never had any formal training. It’s been on my bucket list for a long time, and I finally decided that I was going to take voice lessons this year. That is a big deal for me, so I wrote that at the top of my list.


Another example is that I wanted a living room remodel and to be done with it by the end of the year. It’s still in process, but we are going to finish. Clinically, I started to change the way that I was interacting with patients. I started to be really clear about the specific types of patients that I wanted to serve and if they didn’t fit within those parameters, I said, “No,” whereas before, I would never do that. I would work with anyone.


However, I found that it wasn’t feeding my soul. It didn’t light me up and make me smile, so I started saying, “No,” to the people that I wasn’t a good fit for. That was a win. You may have had a huge financial win, where you saved more money or you converted your practice from a brick and mortar into a virtual because of what happened with COVID. It could be with church or your spiritual relationship, it could be social, it could be other relationships, in your home, whatever it is. I want you to think about as many things as you can that went well this year and write them down.


It could even be some of the hard things that we were all forced into because of COVID, like making pivots in our businesses or shutting down, especially people on the West Coast, and in New York. Some practitioners lost their businesses. I know that’s not anything to celebrate, but it’s part of your chapter. You’ve got to recognize it and write it down and then make room for something new in 2021.


Dig deep, my friend. Give yourself as many pats on the back as you possibly can. Write down all your wins, self-care, anything you can. Pat yourself on the back proudly because you rocked it. All right, in step two, you’re going to write down the things that you could improve on. I don’t like to call them failures because I don’t believe in failure. A failure is nothing more than an opportunity to learn something. You didn’t fail this year by having to close your clinic or going virtual or having to reinvent the wheel. 2020 has given us lots of those opportunities to learn something new, like financial planning.

I did a podcast episode on “Four Ways to Prepare for a Potential Business Downturn.” It was podcast number 17, so if you want to go back and check that out, I’ll link it in the show notes.


So again, write down the things that you know you could be better at. It might be self-care, it might be parenting, business, financial, social, relational, marital, relationships with other people, travel, vacations, exercise, etc. I just want you to look at it as an opportunity to improve. We all have room for growth.


At the top of that list, for me, is being more consistent in taking the supplements and herbs that I want to take because I go in spurts. I take them for a while and then I don’t, and then I do and then I don’t. I really want to be consistent, that’s important to me. I don’t count that as a failure, I just see that I have room to improve.


Number three, I want you to write to yourself and 2020 a letter. I know it sounds all airy-fairy and weird, but this right here, my friend,  is the final paragraph in your chapter. You’ve now gone back through and said, “These are the things I’ve done great, these are the things I can improve in, and now you’re going to write yourself and 2020 a letter.


Mine would say, “2020 has been a year of eye-opening experiences. These are the things I’ve observed about 2020, these are the things I saw happen through every page of my 2020 chapter in my life book, these are the things I noticed that I could probably improve, here are the things I didn’t foresee and need to think about how to plan differently in the future.” Whatever it is, I just want you to write it down.


It doesn’t have to be long, and this is not a moment for you to go navel-gazing and decide that you’re going to need therapy. I’m not talking about that. Maybe one or two paragraphs, just summarize it. “Here’s what I loved, here’s what I didn’t love, and this is what I learned.”


Now we’ve cleared that space out of the closet and wrapped up the year. We can start into the new year with a clean slate and say, “Here’s what I did great, maybe I want to continue that momentum, going forward,” like me with voice lessons, right? I’m going to keep going into 2021. “Here are the things I know I need to do better.” So, maybe for me with my supplements, I need to find a core protocol that I know that I can stick with, maybe just five things because what do we do? We always take too many things.

I might make myself take five things every day, no matter what. I haven’t actually figured it out yet, but whatever it is, I’m going to carry forward. I know I need to improve.


Now, we get to turn the page, woohoo! We’re going to turn the page into 2021. You’re going to do the same thing as your ending in 2020 for this next step but as an opening paragraph. Your opening paragraph will say, “Hello 2021. I cannot wait to see how you are going to be different than last year.” I want you to think about your life as you want it to be in 2021. How do you want that to look? For me, I do not want to work as much. That’s a 2021 goal for me.


How am I going to go do that? Some people call this step, “goal setting.” I don’t like the word “goals,” I prefer, “objectives.” An objective is something that I’m working toward. I’m moving toward, taking the steps that I need to get there. So, the opening letter to 2021 is going to say, “This is what I foresee happening this year, I want to remodel this room in my house, I’m really going to be focused on nurturing the relationships with my children, and doing more self-care. I recommend you choose five things.


For those of you who are super ambitious, you can do more than five, but none of us know what 2021 is going to look like. We don’t know. And up until now, with this 2020 curveball, this exercise has never been this difficult. It’s more challenging this year. I’m dealing with the same thing, but I’m not willing to abandon this exercise just because we’ve had a crappy year. I think there’s even more power in the exercise of closing out 2020 so that we can have a fresh, clean slate, ready to go in 2021.


If you ignore this exercise, my friend, you’re just going to have one continuous chapter without a clean break in between. I don’t want that to happen to you. Your opening paragraph is like an opening statement in a courtroom. You’re basically making your case, “Here’s what I want to have happen in 2021.” We can’t foresee the future, but let your heart and mind carry you to that place. Allow yourself to just write it down, even if it’s wrong. After all, it’s just between you and the piece of paper, right?


Be creative. Let those things pour out of you. “I want to grow my clinic, I want to double my revenue, I want to get out of my brick and mortar and become a virtual practice. I want to strengthen and build my clinical skills, I want to develop my Instagram or Facebook and really network in the community. These are all things that I’ve encouraged practitioners to do.


For step number five, you’re going to list five things with details that you want for 2021. For example, “I want to get healthier.” That’s never going to get you anywhere. Instead, say, “In January, I’m going to make sure that I workout twice a week.” Everybody can do that. And that’s it. That’s your goal for January.


Then in February, it’s three times a week. And then maybe in March, it’s four times a week or however you want to lay that out, but make it actionable. Don’t say, “I’m going to start on January 1st, exercising five times a week. Put some legs and some action to it. Give it some metrics, numbers, and a date. You’ve got to have some direction and focus. It’s not set in stone. It’s okay to change it. It could totally change by the end of the year.


Sometimes, it’s a challenge to write all this stuff out, but I refuse to let the circumstances in the world, the fear, the apprehension, the anxiety, and the unrest affect my ability to carry my life forward and have a thriving successful 2021. My life is not dependent on circumstances, just like yours isn’t. We don’t rely on circumstances to shape our life. What I choose to do is make the decisions for me and then, work within the circumstances. The circumstances are a tool. Don’t let 2020 roll into 2021, especially because we’ve all had such a rough year.


Be bold, my friend. Finish that final paragraph in 2020. Turn that page and staple them shut. We don’t want to look back in 2020 for any amount of time. Get creative and explore what you think you would want to have in 2021, write that down, and then put some action to it. So, I’m going to recap since that was kind of a lot. Here are the five steps:


Number one, write down the big wins for you this year. Number two, write down the things that you think you still need to work on. Remember, they’re not failures, they’re just opportunities for you to grow. Number three, write that final paragraph to yourself and 2020. Wish 2020 well, say, “Bye-bye, See you later,” then turn the page. Number four, write a welcome to 2021, baby because it’s going to be a good year. And then, number five put action to the things that you want to accomplish or achieve in 2021 and you’re going to put some legs to them. “I want this by this date, I want this by this date,” so that you’ve got something to work with as you move into 2021.


I promise you, my friend, this will make a huge difference in your mental state as we close out this year and go into another year. Don’t live in the space of negativity and fear, it doesn’t feel good. So, close it out and roll into the next year full of hope and optimism, and possibility. That’s what I want for you, my friend.


All right, that wraps up this episode of The Clinical Entrepreneur podcast. I’m really thankful that you have hung out with me today. If you love the show, I would love it if you would leave a review. All you have to do is go to the place where you listen to this podcast, leave a review, let me know how much you love it, and I will be happy to read it. I read all of them that come through.


So, thank you again so much. Have an awesome week. I can’t wait to hear about how you’re closing out your year. You can always email me with questions or reach out to say, “Hello.” Take care of my friend, I’ll see you next week.




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