One of my Christmas gifts every year for the past few years is a subscription to a science magazine. I think it was a desperation gift when our son first gave it but it was and is a deeply appreciated part of my Christmas and the rest of the year. And, because of the way magazines get published, I had the January issue in early December.
I look forward to that issue because it summarizes the top scientific stories and issues for the past year. When I read through the issue, I am reminded of some things I knew of, I discover some things that I didn’t hear about and I end up feeling like I know something more than before I read the magazine.
And the magazine publishers are not alone–almost everyone does a year end review. News programs review the top stories; various musical styles do their top 100 for the year; movies get rated from best to worst–everyone seems to want to review the year.
So, I sometimes think I should review my year–but what should I include in the review? What parts of my life do I want to look over and rate? I suppose I could do a top ten sermons list–but truthfully, when I finish a sermon, I am pretty much done with it, except for the occasional discussion that it sparks at the following week’s Bible study. Going back and re-reading them to rate them isn’t all that appealing to me.
I do have to do something of a work review for the churchs’ annual meetings but that tends to be a statistical report with some ideas and suggestions and is sometimes hard to do because a lot of what I do in the church is in process and can’t really be measured or evaluated on a chronological basis.
I could do some personal review but that sometimes takes on a negative slant: the weight I didn’t lose, the bike rides I didn’t take; the people I didn’t get to spend time with; the books that are still waiting to be read. The things I accomplished, well, sometimes they don’t seem all that significant–the naps I really needed to take or the coffee I really wanted to drink or the hour of YouTube that I couldn’t pass up.
I decided a while ago that my life and my work don’t actually lend themselves to an annual evaluation. I believe in and practice self and professional evaluation but have realized that the process works a lot better if I allow the evaluation to fit into the natural and intrinsic patterns and cycles of whatever I am evaluating.
My personal life doesn’t cycle around the January date. My professional life doesn’t fit the New Year evaluation pattern. Trying to do a year end review or a best of the year process ends up being frustrating and somewhat pointless. My professional cycle, for example, actually runs from September to May, with a short and needed break at the end of December. It makes much more sense to do work evaluations in June or July than it does in December.
Likewise, my personal life follows a cycle that is intertwined with my professional life, the seasons and when the next Star Wars or Star Trek movie will come out. Most of those cycles don’t lend themselves well to a December 31 evaluation process. They can be evaluated and some of them need to be evaluated but evaluating them based on the cycles they follow is better and more effective.
So, I am going to anticipate and enjoy the science magazine’s year in review. I might listen to some of the top 100 music of the past year. I will summarize the past year for the church annual report. I will try to avoid looking too closely at the bathroom scales report on my after Christmas personal expansion. But I won’t do a year end review and best of report. I won’t make resolutions to do things better next year.
I will evaluate and plan and make changes as they are appropriate and necessary and fit in the patterns and cycles of my life because that works better for me than using an artificial and arbitrary date as a reason for evaluation and review.
May the peace of God be with you.