The Rhythms of the Year…

In New England, where I live, the seasons are changing. The hot Summer weather has given way to cooler temperatures. T-shirts are increasingly covered with sweaters. And the academic year has begun – even as it looks drastically different in 2020 than in any prior year.

The start of the academic year affects a myriad of people in different ways, whether you’re a parent or caretaker, a teacher, or involved in education in one of a million other ways. It’s such a widespread structure, that if you follow its rhythms, it’s easy to assume that people around you have the same rhythm to their year. 

We all have rhythms to our year, both in our work life and in our personal life – our busy times, our slow(er) times, our steady times, our everything-is-changing times – but each person’s rhythms, even within the same workplace, are unique. Marking those rhythms and cycles can help us to find perspective and understanding of our own lives and the emotions we’re feeling. If we don’t pay attention to these rhythms, it’s easy to over-commit and either burnout with exhaustion or drop balls when we’re juggling too much. And if we’re not aware of others’ rhythms, or if we assume that the people we work with share the same rhythms as us, we quickly get into conflict or unmet expectations that can break apart otherwise-strong working relationships.

This Week’s Tip:

Map out the rhythms of your year, and share them with a few colleagues – then ask them to share theirs with you.You could plot this out on a calendar, or a digital whiteboard of some form, or even just a simple document. Of course things change from year to year – in 2020 more than any previous year – but you probably have a good sense of when certain projects are more important, or what you need to have your attention on at different times of the year – including personal factors such as when your kids are at home.Once you’ve shared it with colleagues, ask them how closely their own rhythms of the year match yours. If they’re willing, suggest that they map out their own calendar of rhythms and then share it with you and others who might benefit from having the conversation.

Try this out this week, and let us know how it goes in our Facebook group! We’d love to hear from you. As always, you can subscribe to our feed here, or sign up for our weekly newsletter to get these articles directly in your inbox.

Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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