• Ana Pineda

Why do a year-end review and how to do it

2020 is coming to an end. And it hasn´t been the year you probably imagined. So, this year, more than ever, we should look back and review how the year has gone. And if you write it down in the workbook I have here for you, you’ll have a memory forever ;)


When I started working in Wageningen, they had a system that was new to me…a yearly meeting with your supervisor to look back and review the past year. I would prepare for several hours…I would go through the objectives of my project as they were in the proposal, and then I would write in a document how I was with the experiments, papers, talks, supervision, and all the things you include in your cv. Then during the meeting, we´d discuss all that. And I loved those meetings.


But the problem is that now I realize those meetings were not deep enough. And that´s fine too. You may not want to go with a wide-open heart to this kind of meeting with your supervisor, but…I´d like you to do it with YOURSELF. Because that reflection is part of becoming a more mindful scientist (which all this blog is about). But also, because it can make a big difference on your productivity the coming year.


Here I give you three reasons why I think spending one or even two hours doing a year-end review is a great Christmas box you can give to yourself. Once you´re ready reading this, just grab the workbook to get it done:


You´ll see that things are usually not as bad as you think

As a scientist, you are probably a great critical thinker. And that’s awesome to do your research. The problem is that you may also be highly critical with yourself, a pattern that I see over and over in the feedback I get in “I focus and write”, and from my students of the Mindful Scientific Writing course. But if you reflect back, you may realize that actually, the year was not as bad as you thought. And that is a great Christmas present!


You´ll identify things that were worse than you thought

Because let’s be real, this can happen too! The key here is first to identify it, then do something about it, and lastly, don´t let that “mistake” stop you and keep moving. This is the three-step process that you may have heard me talking about mindful science and mindful scientific writing. Those “failures” are simply part of the learning process. Just remember, if you want to get a different result than you got, you will need to change something about how you got there.


You´ll get clarity about yourself and your work

Often, we enter a wheel where life goes by very fast, without time to stop and see if where you´re heading to is where you really want to go. Having this reflection will help you identify things that you really enjoy doing (and therefore you should do more), and things you hated (and you can try to do less of that!). With that information, you will be equipped to design your ideal year and go for it!


One of the values of I focus and write is productivity. And also, one of the reasons that academics and scientists read this blog. But I want that us reframe scientific productivity further than publications. And looking back is the first step. In this workbook I´ve prepared for you there are questions so you can reflect on the past year and have some clarity to start the next year strong, and excited about the things to come! And stay tuned because in January you´ll have a new post on planning the year, setting goals, and having a series of steps to achieve those goals. All of that, following a mindful approach to managing your time and energy.


Merry Christmas!


Ana

P.S.: You can use this review or a reduced version every quarter, every month, or even every week!


If you'd like to build a meditation routine for a more productive, creative and happier scientific life, I have for you some tips (as seen in Nature!), and a "meditation box" to start. 

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