Reflecting over the past year

Every time we reach toward the end of a year, it is a great chance to reflect on what happened over this period.

What really is the last date of the year?

December 31st is the last date of the year according to the Roman (also called the Gregorian) calendar. This way of calculating time is attributed to the Emperor Julius Caesar, (100 BC – 44 BC) who might not have devised it but certainly was influential in promoting it. This isn’t the end of the year for people with a lunar calendar. In the Islamic calendar December 31st 2021 it is 26th Jumada al-Awal 1443. In China, Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and among many groups in other countries like Malaysia, people celebrate a new year on Tuesday 1st February 2022. This is a spring festival to end the past and bring in new beginnings. So maybe some other time is more suitable for you to revisit this.

A structured method for reflecting

There are so many ways to move into reviewing the past in order to plan for the future, at least the expected future. One way which is still used in business and education programs at universities is the SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). I had thought this a bit old fashioned in the late 1990’s in Hanoi, Vietnam when I taught about it in a business program. The threats aspect reminded me of the Cold War. We would probably call it SWOC now (with challenges replacing threats) except that SWOC is not a word whereas we swot when we study hard.

My SWOT analysis

Rather than boring you with a full list, here is the first thing that comes to mind for each of these aspects when I reflect over 2021:

Strengths

You, my clients, are my greatest strength. You and I work together to make your writing the best we can possibly make it. You appreciate what I do. You recommend me to your friends, colleagues, and research students (if you are a supervisor). 

Weaknesses

Universities and research centres have suffered constant difficulties in their funding, commercialisation, partnerships and from short-sighted government policies. This has been even worse these past two years since CVID 19 hit the world. Many of you have lost your teaching positions. Or you have had to take on extra unpaid work to replace people whose jobs are gone. Many people and their families are unable to finance their undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

Opportunities

Online connections and communication for everything have expanded. I have been able to broaden my skills, knowledge and experience, at little cost. I hope you have had this opportunity too through your networking with professional organisations.

Threats/Challenges

My workflow involves periods of intense demands and times when there is little to no urgency. If it took me a week to edit your last project of only 10 to 15 pages, this is not the case in December. The end of the year is a great time for writing, at least for me.

So if you have a manuscript idea for a book or a partly finished project that has been parked while you have been busy with other things, now is a good time to contact me. I can give you some ideas about a supplementary service I offer which is often called deep editing. This is a quick example of a method to reflect on how the challenges of the past year bring chances for new developments. I hope you have found this helpful as a way to spring into thinking over what has led to your accomplishments and challenges and what you can do about this for the future.

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