Year-End Practices, New Year Planning

This is my annual post encouraging readers to be intentional about ending the year, and starting the new one, as well as possible. Every year, I spend my morning quiet time in the days between Christmas and New Years treating the process of looking back at the year that was and ahead to the year that is approaching as a sacred practice. It is always engaging and rewarding. It’s time well-spent and I encourage you all to do something like it, to the extent that your life allows it.

If you are interested in taking some time to make your year end planning more meaningful, I have a few resources on the blog that you may find helpful:

  1. A Year in Review Examen, based on the Ignatian Examen. This is a way of reflecting on the past year that focuses on successes, struggles, what worked well, and what areas might need attention going forward. My template is available for you to use in the resources section of the blog.
  2. A series of posts on planning and goal-setting, including Identifying Values, a strategy for Goal-Setting, and Discernment of Desires.
  3. The upheaval of the past few years has highlighted the need for flexibility in our planning, and so in 2020 I introduced a framework that helps me build this in to my whole planning process from the start: A Framework for Resilient Planning.

One thing that’s come up in this process so far this year is a desire to change how I frame my desires for the year ahead. In the past I’ve emerged from my planning process with something like an operational plan for the year, with specific measurable goals. While I’ve found this helpful, it’s become a bit unwieldy in recent years; and with all the uncertainty of this season in the world, it’s become more difficult to think of actionable goals in my day-to-day life. So this year, I’m hoping to emerge from my year-end review and planning practices with something more akin to a Rule of Life for the coming year: more like a set of heuristics or rules of engagement than a to-do list.

Rules of Life have a long history in Christian spirituality, particularly in monastic communities. The Rules of St. Basil, St. Benedict, and St. Francis, for example, have regulated how the communities who live by them operate for centuries and continue to inspire men and women of faith to this day. They essentially frame what a holy and faithful life looks like specifically within these orders. I’d like to do the same for myself this year — what does a good, faithful life look like for me in 2023?

However you choose to engage with this season of transition, I pray that your 2022 ends well and that 2023 will bring you all every joy and happiness.

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