“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”
– Edith Lovejoy Pierce
One of my favorite childhood rituals was picking the perfect school supplies at the start of the school year. I’ve never lost that pleasure though now I call them office supplies. Then, an important part of the process was finding the perfect spiral notebook to write in. Now, it’s the perfect planner. But whatever form it takes, the first page of a new notebook, planner or journal still holds its magic for me. It’s not a collection of terrifying blank pages, but rather a collection of places to collect ideas, thoughts, notes and possibilities.
One of the many gifts that working in higher education gives us is a unique calendar. We have multiple places where the calendar helps us stop, take stock of the past and think about the future. August, December, January, May — each of them is a point at which we can consider the possibilities. Whether the beginning of one semester or the start of another, we have the chance to pay attention to what has happened and decide what we want to continue or change. It really is a gift.
Each of us has a preferred method for this process. Some make New Year’s resolutions. Others pick a word to guide the months to come. Some create detailed to-do lists. And there are multiple ways to do the reflection leading up to those decisions. For some it’s a walk through the neighborhood or a walk across campus. The runners run, the writers write, some talk it through with a friend, family member or colleague.
I find myself doing all of the above at some point in the process. But at this time of year, the start of a new calendar year and the break in the middle of the academic year, it always includes a new calendar. A book full of pages with dates laid out before me, full of potential for life in all its facets, both fun and challenging.
Now some of you may be saying, “The holidays were too hectic to do any reflection,” and I understand that. But our campus calendar gives us the gift of another week, maybe two depending on your specific job, before it starts getting busy again. I hope you will take this time to do a bit of reflection, analysis, dare I say assessment, of the past semester. Take the time to actually write (or type) out your thoughts, ideas, and goals for the weeks to come.
We’re back on campus so the book is open, the pages waiting to be written so good luck and happy New Year!