Just kidding. I haven’t been thinking…I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing, and I’m way overdue for some thinking time.
Let me explain.
We had an RSA meeting this past Monday, and as I sat down to write my usual report for the month I realized I hadn’t a clue where the last month had gone. I managed to struggle through the report, but penned an afterthought at the end:
“School is killing me and my car is currently malfunctioning. I still haven’t unpacked from NAE4-HA so I had to dig out ANOTHER suitcase just to make it to LAW this weekend (because frankly- why would I take the time to unpack the first?). We have no groceries in our house despite the fact that I sent my husband to the store to get some yesterday. He did get the groceries…but I didn’t remember to put everything on the list so now while we have several boxes of Cheez-its (Just in case we have another hurricane) yet we have no meat in the house. AND CHRISTMAS IS COMING!” #enjoytherant
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve had some great days at work recently- great time spent with fantastic colleagues at NAE4-HA, an inspiring (to me) Sustainable Growth Workshop, and the best Leadership Adventure Weekend I’ve ever attended. However, I haven’t cultivated time to reflect on what I’m learning in the process.
We learn when we take time to engage in “reflective practice”. According to the book People Skills by Neil Thompson, there are six steps to reflective practice:
* Read (about what you want to learn)
* Ask (about what you want to learn and really listen to the answers)
* Feel (engage your emotions)
* Talk (to others about what you are thinking about)
* Think (about your work)
You can read more about this in detail at: Reflective Practice.
It may sound slightly disturbing, but this is what I enjoy about the POW/ROA process. It is forced reflection. It is a chance to take an honest look at my performance over the past year. Sometimes I’m disappointed, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised, but either way- I learn a lot.
I also enjoy December. I heard someone say recently that December used to be a month in Extension when everything slowed down and you could relax- but no more. Well to that I say to you- let’s take back our December! Who’s making you do the Holiday Bake-Off? (Author’s note: if you love your Holiday Bake-Off and it brings you pure joy insert any other event/activity/program that isn’t giving you the return on investment you are hoping for). I don’t always succeed, but I try really hard to force myself to slow down in December. Not just because I need a break, but also because I need a chance to THINK.
A new practice I’ve attempted to start is quarterly personal retreat days. I block off one day every three months in which I leave the office and force myself to think about my professional goals and my progression towards them. To be completely honest- I’ve yet to keep one of these days, but my attempt is sincere, and I hope to do this soon. Don’t be me though- set aside time in your schedule NOW for thinking time, for all of 2018. In fact, let’s force each other to commit to this. I’m in if you are.