By Sarah Valdes • July 31, 2020•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
We are more than half way done with 2020. For most of us, this year has already been more eventful than we would have liked. For all of us, the year has brought a series of changes. When I applied to be Ms. JD Writer in Residence and proposed a topic focusing on the benefits of having a sense of community, I could not have dreamed about the reality we are living in today. I imagined writing articles about networking or finding a community of women who share your ethnic background or hobbies. But 2020 forced us all to rethink how we socialize and work.
A few months ago, my inbox and phone were filled with everything from eager messages from girlfriends asking for Zoom happy hours to virtual yoga session invitations. Once the novelty of our reality wore off, I became less and less deliberate about making intentional choices to promote my self-care. My focus shifted to-the-day activities of home and professional life, rather than having a constant stream of content reminding me of the importance of self-care. Luckily, mid-year reflections brought this to my attention.
What are mid-year reflections? I have always been a very goal-oriented person. As a little girl, I always had my eye on that coveted Accelerated Reader Award and combed booklists for the titles with the highest point values. In college, my roommate would roll her eyes at the string of white index card with large black numbers hung over my dorm room bed. They were the LSAT scores I was aiming for. As if that hasn’t convinced you that I am a super cool person, I have yearly goals set out by different areas of my life and reflect on what progress I have made towards reaching them each month. Luckily, I moved from sharpies and index cards to a personal planner.
Setting aside time to reflect, gives me the space to celebrate my successes. And yes, you have them! I guarantee it. Reflecting also gives us the opportunity to pivot. All us Ms. JD’s have become experts in pivoting this year and that expertise should not stop now. If something isn’t working, we can absolutely change it.
Below I’ve compiled some of the self-reflection best practices I have developed.
Set a calendar reminder! I set monthly and quarterly reminders to check-in with my professional and personal goals. Setting these up as an appointment helps me ensure I set aside the time to do it. These do not have to be very long involved sessions. 5 minutes may be all you need to take a step back and think, “Where have I gone? Where am I going? How am I going to get there?”
Make room for something new. When I laid out my goals for 2020, I wanted to make more room for “girl time” with some of my closest friends. We have all let the realities of starting families and growing careers take a little more time out of our friendships than we’d like. So, I wrote in bright orange ink (my favorite color) to “Schedule Girl’s Trip.” I even went as far as thinking about what time I needed to block off on my calendar to make this happen. While the current public health crises makes this virtually impossible, there is no reason why I can’t accomplish the same goal “spending more time with the girls” in different ways. Am I setting aside some time to chat while I sweep the kitchen floor?
Be prepared to change course. I find setting some measurable goals work best for me. Read 12 books. Drink at least 60 ounces of water a day. But what happens when an unexpected amount of time leads you to be indoors? You might just find yourself knocking these out of the park! That doesn’t mean you have to stop. It means it’s time to identify a new ceiling.
Celebrate successes. This tip bears repeating. This is a time to be kind to each other and to ourselves. Don’t be afraid to celebrate (yes, dance parties are still thrown in my living room) even the smallest of successes.
Go back to basics. If you have the privilege of learning a new skill, taking a class, or spearheading a massive new project, go for it! But know that before we check in on whether our freshly baked cake has a “soggy bottom”, we should first check-in with ourselves to see whether we are meeting our own basic needs. Are we getting enough sleep? Are you still sitting in full pigeon pose during that two hour Zoom call and wondering why your back hurts? Was the last thing you ate a Jolly Rancher you found when cleaning out your car? Let’s change that.