Imagine waking up each day knowing that you have a clean slate on which to create the life you desire. Your past is behind you, your tasks are up to date and your projects are complete. What could you accomplish if there were no unresolved issues, projects or relationships to divert your attention?

As 2004 is quickly coming to an end and a new year is on the horizon, it's important to take some time to bring completion to the past before you move toward planning an exciting future. You can think of this preparation process as cleaning the slate. We all know that if you don't fertilize the soil before you plant a garden nothing can grow. If you don't knock down the old structure and haul away the debris, it's impossible to lay a fresh foundation and build a new home. We have all heard it said a thousand times before: You have to get rid of the old to make room for the new.

There is nothing more important for each of us to do on a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly basis than to bring closure to the events of our past and completion to all of our outstanding tasks. There is one thing I can say for sure from all my years of coaching people to create successful lives: If somebody doesn't have a life they love if the patterns of their past keep showing up, if they are continually distracted from the actions that would move them forward look closely and you will undoubtedly find a pile of incompletions. If they are willing to go into their past and resolve those incompletions, they will be able to alter the course of their lives and head in their desired direction.

Closure is the gateway from the past to the future. It helps us create the strong and solid foundation upon which we can build an inspiring future. To bring closure to our past we must reach resolution with every incident, project or person with whom we've been involved. We cannot create a new, extraordinary life on top of a past that is riddled with incomplete projects, failed relationships, broken agreements and unresolved issues. If we try to move forward without first completing the past we can only expect to create more of the same.

Before we can commit ourselves to building an exciting future, we must first take a short journey into our past. We need to be willing to uncover the ways we've deceived or disappointed ourselves and others; to see how we've sabotaged ourselves and our efforts to move forward; and to admit to all the times we've been unclear, unfocused or undisciplined. We must look at what old traumas and emotional wounds we are still dragging around with us from the past and be willing to finally release them.

Holding on to our past could be compared to collecting newspapers from 5, 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Would you consciously choose to reread and rehash each upsetting story, or carry around the newspaper it was printed in, every day? Would you move the papers with you from place to place, from job to job, and from relationship to relationship? Would you take them on vacations and on special evenings out with friends? Even though most of us aren't consciously aware that we are carrying our upsets, resentments and regrets with us each day, it robs us of our energy and drains our resources as surely as toting around a stack of old newspapers.

Most of us try to forget about our mistakes, regrets and misfortunes-often without ever having reached true resolution. But closure is a vital step that can't be skipped if we are truly looking to leave the past behind us where it belongs. We must understand that if we were meant to drag the past around with us each day it would be called the present rather than the past. Most of us are well aware of this fact but for some reason we feel so attached to what happened yesterday that we have a hard time letting it go. Maybe it's because we long for some resolution--in the form of restitution, an apology, or a different outcome--and instead of letting go we choose to hold on to our grudges rather then give up on what we believe we are owed.

The problem with this approach, of course, is that if we need another person to participate in our closure there is a good chance we will never get it. We can't count on anyone else to provide closure. We must claim it, demand it and give it to ourselves. If it happens that someone from our past comes along and gives us what we've been waiting for, that's fantastic, but if we are to be 100% accountable for our lives we must find a way of giving closure to ourselves so that we can move forward. Closure supports us in healing our past and making peace with ourselves. Closure is synonymous with freedom.

As you begin to liberate some of the powerful energy that has been locked within all your unfinished business, you will naturally have the desire and the willingness to create a life beyond what you have known. When you have closed the book on your past you will experience a sense of deep satisfaction. Then you can move forward in your life with energy, excitement, and a fresh perspective. It is in the state of closure that a new vision for your future will arrive. When you are complete with your past you will see with newfound clarity exactly what is possible. Suddenly your destination becomes clear and a sense of deep knowing permeates your entire body. By bringing completion to your past you will create the space for a new and exciting future.

Get on Track to the Best Year of Your Life!
Make a list of the unresolved projects, tasks and relationships that are keeping you tied to the past and blocking you from expressing your greatest self. Identify the actions you will need to take to bring closure to each incomplete issue from your past. Imagine how good it will feel to be working with a clean slate!

Author's Bio: 

Portions of this article were excerpted from The Best Year of Your Life: Dream It, Plan It, Live It by Debbie Ford. As part of Debbie's book launch, she is offering several valuable and exclusive gifts as an incentive to buy the book now. Click on the link below to learn more.