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1 Powerful Way to Integrate What You’ve Learned

December is upon us. In the northern hemisphere, the winter solstice will soon arrive. Shorter days and longer nights can slow our motivation. Holiday festivities and a general desire to nestle in can compound this problem.  Instead of pushing yourself into a state of stress, use December to integrate what you’ve learned by pausing to reflect on where you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what wisdom you can bring to the coming year.

To help you do this, I’ve created a four-part series based on the most common questions I field in December.

This week, I invite you to develop your end-of-the-year checklist. Next week, I’ll give you some tips for dealing with achievement-related angst. Then we’ll look at how to celebrate what you’ve done. Finally, I’ll give you a few final tips for planning a successful 2024.

The goal of this work is to help you integrate what you’ve learned and completed, so you’re not just devising new goals, but bringing forth new wisdom.

At the end of every term, I ask my students to engage in a D.E.P.A.R.T. process.

D.E.P.A.R.T. is an acronym I created to help you pause and systematically integrate what you’ve learned while also acknowledging your accomplishments. Here’s what it stands for: 

  • Determine what you’ve learned and completed 
  • Evaluate how well you mastered each skill or task
  • Pause and rest
  • Asses what’s next and set a new goal 
  • Research any resources you’ll need to achieve it
  • Take the next step

To successfully D.E.P.A.R.T. 2023, I’d like you to make a list of the skills you’ve learned from the books you’ve read or the classes you’ve taken, as well as the tasks you’ve accomplished. For now, just get it all down, but refrain from comparing your list to your goals. 

Once you’ve recorded everything, evaluate each item on a scale of 1 – 5, where a 5 means total mastery of a skill, or total, successful completion of a task. If you rate any skills you learned at a 3 or lower, go back and review your notes, then rewrite them in your own words or review the material in some other way. If you rate a goal as a 3 or lower, save that work for next week. 

Next, identify the days either at the end of this month or early next month when you will take off and just rest. 

Once you’ve set that time aside, you can make some tentative goals and research what you’d need to do to accomplish them.

For example, if you want to structure your memoir, but you don’t know how to do this, maybe you need to take a class. (Pssst: I’ll be teaching one for Jane Friedman in February 2024). 

If you’re ready to draft a new project, maybe you need to ditch your critique group in the short-term for one focused on accountability. 

Finally, identify a tentative date for starting your new project. 

As you do this work, note anything that comes up, and stay tuned for the rest of the posts in this series. One of these posts might answer your question. You can also sign up for Soul Start 2024, a 2-hour webinar designed to help you clarify these goals and direct your energy toward achieving your dreams. 

Until next week, may the work you do to D.E.P.A.R.T. this year help you always write on.

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