I hope you enjoyed some enriching time around the Christmas holiday.1
Maybe you focused simply in being with those who matter most to you. Maybe you spent extra time on a hobby you don’t normally get to do or any number of other recreative activities.
At the end of the year, it’s somewhat more common for the generally frenetic pace of life to slow, however modestly. And that slight ebb can provide valuable space to pause and reflect.
The past couple years have had some unique challenges, to say the least. But as 2021 winds to a close, there’s an opportune time look back over the year.
Freedom for your focus and imagination to wander can be an important aid in fostering creativity and insight.2
So, while you’re unplugged from your regular routine, you may be able to reflect more profitably and with more perspective on that routine.
You can take stock of what worked, what didn’t, what went well, and what you’d like to do better moving forward.
You can think about the unexpected that really could have been anticipated.
And you can consider the buffers you had (or didn’t have) to cushion the impact of the unexpected that couldn’t be anticipated.3
As you do so, be sure to reflect on your life both personally and professionally. You are, after all, a whole person. And it’s no good letting the wheels fall off either side of the cart. You want them both working together in the days, months, and year ahead.
I’ve recently done this kind of yearly review myself, and it’s always a helpful experience.
As your mind moves forward to next year, as it naturally will, start thinking about what you want to accomplish in the year ahead.
As you do, I’d encourage you not to do too much with these thoughts just yet. This is especially true for the time you’ve planned (and maybe committed to others) in which you’re stepping back from your regular academic activities.
Instead, take full advantage of any space the end of the year provides to be, do, and think in other ways than you’re able to in the week-to-week routine in the rest of the year.
But definitely capture your reflections someplace where you can come back to them. That way, they won’t get lost or forgotten (which they’re pretty liable to do otherwise). You’ll also free mental space that will otherwise be taken up, even if subconsciously.4
As you’re thinking along these lines, you might think of something you’d like to see me discuss here next year. If so, certainly let me know.
I want to ensure I’m giving you the best help I can to hone your craft as a biblical scholar. So, I’ll be going through all of the feedback I’ve gotten about what you might find helpful early in January as I plan how to tackle that in the coming weeks and months.
Meanwhile, I wish you all the best for a wonderful New Year’s.
Chris Bailey, Hyperfocus: How to Manage Your Attention in a World of Distraction (New York: Viking, 2018), 133–58. ↩
David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (New York: Penguin, 2003), 23–26. ↩