Reflection and Compassion to Close Out the Year

by | Dec 1, 2020

Hello everyone and welcome to December! This certainly has been a hell of a year and if you’re like me and the rest of the Ideas on Fire team you’re probably pretty grateful we get to close out 2020 soon.

Our theme for December is reflection but the tumultuous events of this year require a different kind of contemplation than your usual year-end review. The articles, posts, and podcast episodes we have for you this month focus on how you can process your journey over the last 12 months and set the stage for a supportive 2021.

Reflect with compassion

Reflection entails looking back over the events and changes you’ve experienced this year—with a generous eye.

We’ve all had our lives upended this year and when you think through your 2020 projects and goals, please keep that upheaval in mind. If you started or finished anything at all, consider that a major win. If you made it through your classes, wrote any number of words, or supported your loved ones and communities in any way, those things deserve to be celebrated.

We’ve all been working with limited resources and energy. So when you do your year-end assessment, compassion is one of the most useful tools to draw on—compassion for others but also for yourself. We have some videos and posts coming out this month to help you do just that.

Appreciate your adaptations

Reflection also entails looking forward and planning what we want to take from this year into the next one. Although there is probably a ton that you want to leave in 2020 and never experience again (which is totally understandable!), I encourage you to think through the adaptations you’ve made that you want to keep around in the future.

What changes did you make to your routine—whether those changes were forced or chosen—that you’re finding actually make your life better? Did you discover you actually enjoy writing at a different time of day or outside of your campus office? What online teaching techniques did you take up that have made your teaching more accessible or that are actually yielding more robust classroom discussions than their on-campus counterparts? How did throwing out your publishing expectations and timeline change how you approach your research?

The point here isn’t to deny the traumatic upheavals and disappointments this year produced, but it is to recognize and validate your brilliantly creative adaptations in the face of them. Which of those adaptations do you want to carry into 2021 and maybe even increase? Our upcoming Imagine Otherwise podcast episode has some great advice on how to approach this question.

Plan for real rest

Finally, reflection entails looking inward. Now is the time to slow down, embrace stillness, and truly rest. Without that rest, there can be no growth in the spring.

As you finish out the semester and wrap up your projects and collaborations, think about what kind of rest you and your communities need. Consider how you can build that rest into your schedule on a regular basis, rather than leaving it to breaks in the academic calendar.

As we all reflect this month on the significance of the year’s changes, the Ideas on Fire team is here for you.

Here’s to a great December and a wonderful next year!

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Cathy Hannabach is the founder and CEO of Ideas on Fire as well as the host of the Imagine Otherwise podcast.

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