For the past few years, my friends and I have utilized the year-summarizing exercises collected by the wonderful team at Year Compass. Their workbook is available for free, downloadable in multiple different formats, in several different languages. The impact of this workbook on my life has always been a net positive, but I can particularly see ways in which the Year Compass clarified my priorities in 2018 and 2019. I began to track international political events in my calendar, and decided to become more politically active. This resulted in my taking classes from the Anti-Racism Collaborative in Boston and BARCC. Ultimately, this also resulted in my decision to co-edit the anthology Resist Fascism in 2018, and Recognize Fascism (updated in 2020 to add link to the book! now on sale!) after that.
The Year Compass has helped me figure out, from year to year, what I wanted to make more space for in my life. In 2019, I referred back to it a few times in the middle of the year when I was casting about for direction. It was a good reminder of things I intended to do, places I intended to go, people I intended to see, things I cared about and wanted to make progress on.
Nothing goes according to plan all the time, of course. I had a lot of emotional fallout to deal with in 2018 and 2019, after my Arisia #MeToo blog post. That said, I used the Year Compass pretty effectively, and I did see some long-term goals come to fruition in 2019.
Two New Exercises
As I’m filling out my Year Compass this week, preparing for all the amazing things I’m going to work on in 2020, I’ve got two exercises to propose as additions to The Year Ahead (the second half of the workbook). I don’t know if these will help others, but I hope so. I’ve gotten a lot out of working on them for myself.
Bonus Exercise One
Sometimes it’s helpful to form an action plan and think ahead about how you will address your feelings in challenging situations. Below, list three (or more) areas of your life that are important to you (such as school, work, a family gathering, a faith organization meeting, a volunteer situation, etc.). Briefly describe the situation you can find yourself in, the emotional climate or tenor of the people around you, some people who might be your allies when you’re struggling, some obstacles you face, and a possible vision or goal you want to aim toward.
Here’s an example for you.
Area of Life: Volunteer organization
Situation: Having a discussion about budget
Emotional Climate: Money is complicated! We have competing priorities, and not enough money for everything we want to do, which makes me sad and frustrated at the same time. Then there are the emotions of everyone else in the room, which I sometimes feel like I have to help regulate in addition to my own.
Allies: One colleague, Robin, has talked about how important it is for everyone to have a say in the budgeting process.
Challenges: Everyone has a different emotional history with money, particularly when it’s limited. One colleague, Jamie, gets very loud when upset or angry.
Possible vision or goal: We have a meeting in which we each present one budget priority and how we think the organization will benefit from investing in it. Perhaps if people recognize the potential of colleagues’ goals alongside our own, we will be better able to make decisions that prioritize the health of the organization as a whole.
I envision this first exercise being done in a grid format, actually, but apparently WordPress doesn’t like the idea of putting a table in the middle of my blog post. 😛
Bonus Exercise Two
For the second exercise, I think it’d be useful to have a mostly-blank page with space to draw, similar to page 14 (Dare to Dream Big).
Sometimes it’s helpful to contextualize where you are at. For the year to come, try formulating a personal continuum of potentials. If it’s helpful for you to have a scale with numbers, try -10 to +10, with zero in the middle.
“Have a handshake with your fears,” as they say — you don’t hug, you don’t run, you recognize and stand your ground. Here, you can have a handshake with your potential heights and potential depths. Notice what you think might be middle ground, or minorly off the center of neutral. What’s the hardest part to fill in? Where are the easy answers versus the gaps? Feel free to draw little pictures to go along with what you come up with.
I found this interesting and useful, personally, in terms of what kind of planning I can do around potential best-case and worst-case scenarios. It was also interesting to realize what potential events I thought were more neutral (more toward the middle) than others.
Anyway, I hope this is helpful to others who’re working on their own Year Compass. Happy new year, and may 2020 bring us all a brighter vision of the future!