the gentle stretch: a review of year-end reviews

As a jumpstart in my writerly life, I am participating in a 30-day challenge to reflectively write at least 150 words and then post online. We’ve since expanded on the idea with international colleagues into #modigiwri. Join us and here goes!


It’s New Year’s Eve and the year-end reviews are streaming on every channel. Top tens, new goals, all the works. I was reminded by a colleague that these reviews, doing them yourself and seeing others post them can be discouraging, and if you are extra tough on yourself, counterproductive.

Then I saw this tweet from Sofia Quintero which she ends by saying, “Stretch yourself but be gentle.” This got me thinking about physical stretching. You can hurt yourself if you go too fast and too hard. But if we ease into a stretch and go gently, our reach extends and the deep warmth of the stretch is actually soothing.

So, how do we bring this idea of the gentle s t r e t c h to reviewing our work and world? Well, I’ve been curating a set of year-end reviews since I’ve been wanting to do one. Here are a few that I think would lead to something productive:

  • I love Michelle Boyd’s Year in Review questions (linked in her tweet below). They sound like the perfect gentle stretch: productive, insightful, and kind to yourself. They aren’t super judge-y, and I think they are also open enough that you can drift in your reflections. I think drifting is important to helping us see what we are associating with other things and helping us get to the core of our hopes.
  • Annual Planning That Works: This is the most thorough and time consuming, I would imagine. This is Kerry Ann Rockquemore’s holistic life review that she does with her partner. Kerry Ann is the founder of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. All of her work with NCFDD includes reflective rounds of assessing and adjusting. So, I am sure this is a killer deep, long stretch. So do as she recommends and go somewhere relaxing and rejuvenating so that you are helped in being gentle with yourself.
  • Betina Hsieh’s reviewed her year by using a scripture, and I think that or a meaningful quote or word would be equally powerful in producing a review that is a stretch, since you’ve chosen something you aspire to in order to interpret your year, yet gentle in that you can interpret the quote as you wish and as it applies to different aspects of your life.
    Antero Garcia posted his review of the year focusing on What I Worked on This Year and Why. I love this approach as well because it surfaces the effort and production that is often unseen, which is part of being gentle with our judgements of our own productivity. It also focuses equally on articulating our deep whys, which not only is gentle as it reminds us of our purposes, but can also be a stretch as we can see how our alignment is (ooooh, that goes along well with the stretching metaphor) between our deep whys and our effort.

What reviews have you found insightful and productive? Please add them in the comments below and I may be back to add some more in to this list as well!


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6 thoughts on “the gentle stretch: a review of year-end reviews”

  1. Timely post, Anna! What popped into my mind is the #oneword challenge that many people engage in. My word for 2018 was #fierce, and as I reflected on how fierce I have (or have not been), I realized I want to carry that same word into 2019. I like to be fierce (in a kind, compassionate way), and have yet to “perfect” that in myself, so will work on it more in 2019.

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