Closing The Year

I have been working at closing the year well. How do you plan to do it? With a smile? A flourish? Maybe a wave? Perhaps an inevitable sniffle? How about a hearty laugh? Deep silence and gratitude?  All of these (and more) can come handy in closing the year well. I thought I should share how I am closing the year and hear from you on how you are.  

Before I get to closing the year, some filling in the blanks are in order. I took a break with The OWL Despatch over the last few weeks.  I have lived out of a suitcase for most parts of the last 12-15 weeks. When culture, language and context are all new and dynamic, there is little choice but to stay super focused on work. 

I have been ever so grateful for the challenges that work brings along and this time it was no different. But this time, I also became very present to the costs that such focus brings along. One such cost this time was the regularity of The OWL Despatch as I had to take a pause. The good news is that I am back, scrambling to say the last hurrah of 2022 by closing the year properly. 

I am so grateful and energised to be able to put this together and begin all over again. 

2022 – One Hell Of A Year

2022 was one hell of a year for me. In more ways than ‘hell’ could be understood.. Speaking of hell, I read an interesting quote that defined hell. The quote has stayed in my mind for a while now. 

“The definition of hell: On your last day on earth the person you became meets the person you could have become.” 

After much chewing over this, I don’t think that is an apt definition of hell. In fact, It needn’t be hell at all. But this is a provocative idea that facilitates and aids in reflection that will help in closing the year well. 

So, here we go. 

Imagine, the person you could have become in 2022 walked up to you and met you in the last week of 2022, what would you tell that person? What would that person tell you? Would it be heaven or would it be hell? Or some place in-between?

Go grab a pencil and a sheet of paper. Mull over that thought please. As 2023 comes in, I am reasonably sure that there will be a renewed thrust to make new strong goals. To begin afresh and on a clean slate. But strong goals are not built on good foundations unless there is reflection woven in. 

John Dewey, one of the foundational thinkers of modern learning theory, said it eloquently. “More of our waking life than we should care to admit, even to ourselves, is likely to be whiled away in this inconsequential trifling with idle fancy and unsubstantial hope”

Just so that 2023 doesn’t descend into a tumult of idle fantasy and unsubstantial hope, may I invite you to look back at 2022 purposefully, even as it hurries away. 

Closing The Year

One very good way of closing the year is to scan through your devices and see how it has gone. I prefer two apps on the phone to get the job done. My calendar and my photo gallery. 

I have been doing that since morning today and I have completed looking through January to March of 2022 in my calendar, I can see how orderly things looked. My hopes and dreams outflanked the threats posed by Omicron and other stuff. That provides me renewed energy to go further with care. I thought I should pause and write this to you. 

Go check your calendar. Go month by month. Make your notes for each month. What were your wins? Your losses? Your hopes and anxieties. Notice what the patterns were. 

Just as you are doing it, open your photo gallery and check what pictures and videos you have from those months. Pictures and videos generate more emotion and recollection for me and I often wonder how much of a distance I have traversed from the time that I clicked them! 

As you do this, watch out for one mistake. That is to judge the year by the material outcomes you have at hand. I used to feel miserable when I used to do such stock taking at the end of each calendar year, when I thought I didn’t have much to show. That was before realisation dawned that blocks of time (such as a year)  are to keep track of changes in me. Material outcomes I seek do not stick to such boundaries as a calendar year! 

One of my colleagues, a few years ago, guided me to think about the ‘person who I became’ during the year instead of ‘what I got’. That has been helpful beyond measure. 

Questions For Closing The Year

For this year, these are the questions I have chosen to reflect on. I am sharing with you with the hope that this would be helpful to you and would encourage you to sit with the pencil and paper and work on it for a good hour. 

Remember to go through your calendar or photo albums of the year (or any other app/tool that will give you a sense of the year) before you start with the questions.  

  1. What have been my highs and lows of the year? Write down five each. 
  2. What are the changes in me? What beliefs have shifted? What new hopes do I harbour? What anxieties keep me company?
  3. What have been efforts in building
    1. Health
    2. Family
    3. Relationships
    4. Work
  4. What have been the best learning experiences that I want to replicate? 
  5. What am I grateful for? 

(Of course, please add to the list of questions and do share it with me when you get a moment or two).

When you are done with these, we are ready to get to 2023 and girdling up for new goals and to ask the question, ‘What’s the best version of me I could become in 2023’? 

OWL Despatch
OWL Despatch

The OWL Despatch

For a while now I have been putting together The OWL Despatch. A short essay and five links to interesting pieces I have read in the last fortnight.  This is 2022’s last edition.

  1. In the Rain, in the Cold, in the Dark. It’s a phenomenal read on sacrifices that are beyond the spotlight. Gave me goosebumps.
  2. Morgan Housel has produced a brilliant piece titled “Ideas that changed my life”. I love it.  “Start with the assumption that everyone is innocently out of touch and you’ll be more likely to explore what’s going on through multiple points of view”
  3. The playground has a rich history. “the present-day playground is the culmination of over 150 years of debate about where and how children and young people should spend their time when not at school or work”
  4. Should we tax robots? “Because robots can replace jobs, the idea goes, a stiff tax on them would give firms incentive to help retain workers”
  5. And just for the age we live in, Here is “the Notorious Photoshop Troll And His Victims Who Surely Regretted Asking For Photo Edits

That’s that for now. I hope you will reflect on the year gone by and stay ready to welcome the brand new year. See you on the other side. And by the way, wishing you the best for the holiday season

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