Leaving Well

It has been quite a year for us, friends. I’ve seen posts and reflections sprinkled all through Facebook and Instagram the past few days, looking back on the year and taking account. Savoring the beauty, mourning the loss, accepting the inevitable, looking forward to what lies ahead.

It’s a beautiful practice and one that collectively we should practice more often than once a year. Because introspection and reckoning with our choices is something that helps us grow, sometimes beyond measure, beyond our wildest dreams.

There are resolutions and words of the year. (You can read about mine from 2012 to 2018 here and here.) New planners, new gym memberships, new commitments and goals. And I get it. I do the thing, too.

But sometimes I feel like we’re so intent on moving into the next year that we miss a huge opportunity to truly learn from the year before.


Years ago, when I was in a chapter of my life I now refer to as The Depths, I happened upon an advice column called Dear Sugar on the Rumpus. Later revealed as Cheryl Strayed, Sugar’s essays carried me through the darkest time in my life. Her compassion, wisdom, and sincerity breathed new life into me as I was finding myself and finding my way out of the darkness.

Many of these essays I still come back to time and again. (And if you want a quick run down of the 15 best columns, check this list out.) But the one that has always resonated with me most is The Reckoning. I will let you read it for yourself (and trust me, you want to), but one idea that I carry around with me every day from this essay is the idea that we all face times of reckoning, of calling an account for our lives – who we are, who we want to be, and how we want to get there.

And that’s what the New Year brings on in so many of us… this reckoning with the last 365 days and how we want to move forward differently and the same.


I want to challenge myself, and you, too, to sit in 2019 just a bit longer so that we can leave it well.

In his book Your Best Year Ever, Michael Hyatt walks through five steps for achieving our most important goals. Step two is Complete the Past, and for good reason. We cannot truly walk into a new year refreshed and prepared for what it offers if we haven’t put the past to bed.

My recommendation? Read Your Best Year Ever. If you don’t have that kind of time, check out Hyatt’s essay “Seven Questions to Ask About Last Year” to get you thinking more honestly about the past twelve months.

And then give yourself some time to breathe and think and, well, just be. Sitting with ourselves, offering ourselves grace and understanding, and being at peace with who we are right now without any of the resolutions met or goals complete… that is a gift and one we must continually give.

Published by

Ellie Talley

Ellie is a writer and teacher. She lives in Tennessee with her husband and children.

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