The week of taking stock

Thus begins the last week of the year, the week between Christmas and New Years Day, a week off for many people, and so it is for me. Except I have a research project I’m still gathering data for, an interview meeting on Wed, and probably a meeting with a graduate student on Thurs.  No matter.  It’s still a light week in terms of work, and the last week in the year.  To some the new year becomes a time for resolutions, a renewed attempt to “do better” than the previous year.  I’m not much for resolutions, but there is an added reason for taking stock; my birthday falls during this week that already signifies both closure and new beginnings. Doubly burdened with evaluative and planning potential, the last week in the year impels me to look back at my progress, identify mistakes and missteps, push toward new goals and/or reinvigorate established ideals.  Usually I do much of this rumination during a long run or series of them; running helps to clear my mind. Sometimes I use tools or rubrics for the evaluation and planning. This time I’m making it visible by showing some of my process here. It begins with the realization that my birthday is coming and the year is ending, a subtle switch in the back of my mind from getting things done to contemplation.

Using a 2008 NYT process by Michael Melcher, I made a list of what I did in 2011. As such lists go, it spans some ground, including items like a whale watching tour aboard a catamaran, maintaining a long run base, starting a new book project, and leadership training, as well as voluntary public speaking when I introduced a colleague who was winning a service award. As usual, travel was a consistent theme with trips to Denver, Hawaii, and Florida, while career growth barely outpaced fitness goals like persistant speed work for dominance on the list.  Ballroom dancing lessons figure prominently, not due to the amount of time we spent at them but because they were symbolically important.

Compared to 2010, this year has been what sports teams call a growth year. No additional marathon, no awards, a slower pace with publications, but dear goddess it was also less filled with dread and pain.

The next step, of course, is to use this list and my analysis of it to plan for next year, set appropriate goals.  While I am working on those steps, maybe I’ll take that offline.  Good luck with your end-of-year evaluation.  Taking stock has its benefits, despite the discomfort.


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