As we start a new year, a new job, a new relationship, a new chapter, what immediately comes to mind?

Often, it’s a list of to do‘s. Things we need to add to our carts, our calendars, our skill sets. Maybe it’s something we’ve left unattended for far too long. Perhaps it’s a priority we have neglected in the busyness of life.

The nudging comes from without and within. The scale is telling you to add that gym membership. Your wife or girlfriend wants you to be more present. Your boss is demanding that you prioritize their priorities. Your fatigue is telling you to make room for more down time. Your heart is nagging at you that you’re capable of so much more.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we feel the pressure. There are so many things we should be doing. And we only have so much bandwidth.

So where do we begin? And how?

We’re going to challenge you to think differently this year. And hopefully with this challenge comes some relief. Because instead of adding things to your agenda, we invite you to be courageous and take things off it.

Simply put, you’re going to have to end what you’re doing now before you can start something new.

Why Endings are Crucial

In his book Necessary Endings, Henry Cloud writes, “Being alive requires that we sometimes kill off things in which we were once invested, uproot what we previously nurtured, and tear down what we built for an earlier time.”

Before you can start a new adventure, you need to make space for it.

We instinctively know that we can’t do everything. We only have so much energy, time, and ability. You might even feel depleted, which makes the thought of starting something new seem impossible. At the same time, change is hard. Saying goodbye to something is not easy. You may need to mourn the loss of a job, a dream, a familiar habit.

But once you have made room, you’ll be available for the possibility of something new and better.

If you want a better relationship, you may have to end your need to win the argument. If you want a better job, you may have to end the comfort and stability you’re currently enjoying. If you want a better spiritual life, you might have to end the distractions around you. If you want a better life, you might have to end some of the stories you tell yourself.

For those achievers out there, we want to highlight a parallel principle which may seem counter-intuitive, but has proven true time and again:

The less you do, the more you accomplish.

Imagine a new year where you have the energy, enthusiasm, and focus to do the things that matter to you — because you’ve eliminated that which is distracting, unimportant, and fruitless. There’s no telling how far you might go!

Four Steps to Make a Good Ending

1. Imagine your future if nothing changes. Really picture it. If you desire a relationship, imagine you are single 20 years from now. No family, no intimacy, no kids, no legacy. If you are unhealthy, imagine things staying the same — or most likely getting worse — for decades to come.

2. Admit where you are. Something isn’t working in your life. Own it. You can’t change what you’re unaware of or avoiding.

3. Make a plan. What specifically needs to end right now? How can you do that practically? What motivation would you need to keep you on the road?

4. Ask for help. There are people in your life who want what’s best for you, who are rooting for you, and who can support you along the way. And there are experts out there with wisdom — practical and motivational — to help you figure it out.

Looking to make a necessary ending this year? Unravel can help equip you to make wise decisions as you subtract your way to a future worth growing.

In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Great is the art of the beginning, but greater is the art of ending.”