Stories are a constant part of our lives. As librarians, we read them to others and to ourselves. We also tell ourselves stories, consciously or otherwise, about who we are, how we are doing, and what we are capable of. They can also help us to plan for what’s ahead – no matter how unpredictable that might be. So—what story do you want to tell about 2022?
Start by asking yourself a few more questions. What do you want to see for your library program? For your professional life? For your personal life? As the of-quoted Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up someplace else.” Even though life takes us off our original course, goals can help us to reorient when this happens.
Now that you have answered those questions (or ones like it), think of what steps you need to take, what plan of action is needed to achieve those results. Yes, life put roadblocks, speed bumps and unexpected turns in your way, but knowing your goal allows you to adapt and modify as needed. As a bonus, you build resilience as you go.
Elana Aguilar’s post The Resilient Educator/ How Year-End Reflection Fosters Resilience gave me the idea for this blog. In it she writes about having a word for the year. Aguilar says it should, “encapsulate your hopes or commitments.” I’m going to go through this process with you so you can see where you might start. I decided my word for 2022 is Discovery. No matter what happens, I will come to the end of the year knowing more about myself, and how I can be better at what matters to me and be a better person.
In creating your story of 2022, Aguilar advises reflecting on the past year. Among the questions she proposes you ask yourself are:
- What happened? – So much has occurred it isn’t easy to recall it all. Your first response is likely to be all the negative events, nationally, professionally, and personally. As you continue to remember and reflect, the good things begin to emerge.
For me this includes almost completing a new book, teaching online courses at Montana State, and making new friends. I also had the opportunity to see family again after 2020’s isolation.
- What did I feel? – Sorting this out can be more challenging than reviewing what happened. Your emotions have undoubtedly gone from some deep lows to some triumphant highs – and back down again. We have been on an emotional roller coaster.
As you identify your feelings for the various events, go one step further. How did you react? Did the negative ones send you deeper into despair or did you summon the courage to find a way to push through? Did you surprise yourself with what you were able to accomplish?
What about those triumphant feelings? Did you celebrate and congratulate yourself for achieving them? Never forget you earned those moments.
I’ve been stressed at different times writing this book because it’s for an expanded audience, but I’m excited to reach new librarians. Teaching a new course at a new school required a slower start than I’m used to, but I had the opportunity to expand my cultural awareness. Seeing family? Priceless.
- What did I learn? – This is the most important question of all. If you don’t have a take-away, the experience, positive or negative, is wasted. Everything that happens to us is an opportunity to grow. It’s something we often ask our students after a lesson.
Every lesson we learn builds our resilience. They widen our perspective on the world and remind us of our strength. Knowing what we have achieved, whether dealing with challenges or achieving successes serves as a reminder that when faced with new obstacles, we have what it takes to deal with it.
As a new year begins with all the uncertainties it always carries, take the time to reflect. Where are you now? Where do you want to go? What Story of 2022 do you want to tell?