A Year in the Life, Week 13: Quarterly Review

Last week’s A Year in the Life exercise was to give myself a quarterly review about my successes and shortcomings as a journal keeper, in direct response to my conditions of hiring at the beginning of this project. My supervisor and I 😉 pretty much see eye-to-eye on things, so I’m looking forward to improvement in the next quarter (OK, and I’m a little nervous about keeping a commitment to improving as well.)

July 26, 2013

Dear Lacey,

Overall, I’ve been pleased with your progress so far. You have not once missed out on your weekly journaling obligation, although at times it’s posed a larger obstacle than you expected. You’ve only had to move a journaling date from a Friday once or twice, which pleases me. You’ve appropriately used the exercises to give structure to both recent and past experiences. I’ve also noticed improvement in the frequency of your entries, as well as various “extras” such as clippings of reviews for books you’ve read. You’ve gone beyond the call of duty by occasionally posting your entries online, and I’m pleased by the conversations this has inspired–although I wish you would respond to comments in a more timely manner.

There are a few places where I see room for improvement. Although I appreciate that you write on each weekly prompt, I feel you sometimes hold back on or rush through those that don’t particularly interest you. You seem to prefer for the exercises not to take too long, rather than allowing yourself to go as deep as you could. I feel disappointed that you don’t ever return to the journal exercise “extensions” throughout the week, even though you often intend to. And you hardly tried at all the week you were in the Black Hills and disregarded the writing prompt entirely because that particular exercise was meant to be written at home.

Still, I appreciate all that you’ve recorded, as well as the sometimes surprising insights that your writing has uncovered. I look forward to continuing to work with you.

All best,

Lacey VenOsdel

July 27, 2013

Dear Ms. VenOsdel,

Thank you very much for your feedback. I agree with most of what you said. I’m also pleased that I’ve been writing more often between entries and I like knowing that I’ll get the chance to write on Friday at the very least to keep the journal from languishing.

I find myself really looking forward to these Friday journaling sessions, but you’re right that I sometimes don’t go as deep as I could. I think this comes from my preoccupation with “achievement,” and I love the satisfaction that comes after accomplishing my weekly journaling session. I also do often think of it as “one more thing to cross off the list.” I would welcome feedback from you on how I might set aside more time for it, make it a higher priority. Perhaps it ought to be the first thing I tackle on Fridays–although it is so pleasant that I like getting less pleasant tasks out of the way first.

I share your concern about not returning to the journaling extensions. I’m very good at accomplishing what I say I will do, but I often stop short of “going the extra mile.” I know that returning to the marked extensions would be “going the extra mile” for you.

Perhaps I need to be diligent about setting aside time in advance for extensions I’d like to return to. I often tell myself I will do them “the next time I have time to journal,” but in actuality, I usually use that time to journal about what’s happening in my life that week. As more and more time goes by, the extensions begin to feel more distant and less urgent.

So, let’s try this going forward: if I mark an extension I’d like to return to, I will set aside time to do so within that week. You’ve seen that I’m good at keeping my commitments, so I think I simply need to make a commitment to return to the relevant prompts, rather than intending to return to them only when and if I “get around to it.” This will help me save on sticky notes, too!

All in all, it’s been a great first quarter. I look forward to seeing what comes next!


Lacey Louwagie