In the previous few weeks journalists and bloggers of all stripes have released a flood of suggestions on how to end 2016 with a bang (myself included). Now they're rolling out their suggestions for starting 2017 on the right foot.

No shock there. New Year's is the traditional time to take stock and start planning for the next chapter of your life, after all. But according to a thought-provoking post by Tyra Seldon on the Freelancers Union blog, all of this advice actually gets the best approach to experiencing a kick-butt year exactly backwards.

Now isn't the time to focus on starting your year right. It's the time to focus on ending it with excellence.

Why you should start with the end.

Much like fashion designers work ahead so that they show spring clothes in September and winter styles in February, if you really want to have an extraordinary year you need to first imagine where you hope to end up come December and work back from there. She writes (though the link to additional information is mine):

Start with the finish line in focus. How do you want 2017 to end? No, you didn't misread that; I didn't say 'start.' Start with the finish line and not the starting line. Think about a marathon runner. Her objective isn't to start - it's to finish!...

In education, this is called Understanding by Design (UbD). It was developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. I frequently use UbD as a freelancer because it helps me to make sure that my actions are aligned to my goals.

The premise is pretty straight forward: In order to determine how you are going to tackle or accomplish something, your planning shouldn't start at the beginning; instead, you should start with your intended outcomes and work backwards. Because of this, some people have even called it backwards design. It may feel counterintuitive at first, but it works. And the reason that it works is because assessing your achievement is embedded throughout the process.

Sounds intriguing, but how do you do that exactly? Her complete post lays out a step-by-step guide you can check out for more details.

If you close your eyes and imagine where you'll be at the end of a successful 2017, what do you see?

Published on: Jan 6, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.