My end of year message to students and staff (2022 edition)

Wishing all readers of the blog a satisfying end to 2022, and a chance to recharge the batteries before coming back in 2023. A few basic thoughts on doing a goal review, gratitude and what it means to truly rest. Reading time ~ 3 minutes, 29 seconds.

Howdy all 👋

This is my final week of work for 2022. I’ve loaded up on Red Bull and cheap chocolate and I am going to try and crank out as much work as possible, so I can go into my 4-week break with permission to take it easy. To be clear, I don’t recommend a nutritional strategy that involves energy drinks and sweets 🍫.

One thing that I have been focusing on today (12/12/22) is conducting a review of the year past, seeing which goals I hit and missed, extracting lessons from both, and putting together a bit of a plan for 2023 (this is a process that all registered psychologists need to do to demonstrate ongoing learning). Pleasingly, the process has revealed what I think is a successful year. Rewarding collaborations, high profile projects and expanded reach of our wellbeing programs and lectures characterise what has been a busy but satisfying 2022.

To do a review of one’s year isn’t a short exercise. My learning journal was already 16000+ words and I added another 2000 today, with more to come. But the process is giving 2023 Gareth a clearer sense of where to focus his efforts. It is hard to grow, if we don’t take the time to observe and reflect on our progress. This means using our experiences during the year to gain insights into what we love, what we don’t, skills to leverage and skills to develop, and how to make the following year an extension of the current one. If you feel like doing the same, try responding to some of the following reflection prompts.

  • What did you learn this year about your topic?
  • What did you learn this year about yourself?
  • What skills/competencies are you getting better at?
  • What skills/competencies do you want to develop further?
  • What were your goals for this year? Which of them did you achieve? What worked (or didn’t work) in pursuing your goals this year?
  • What were the most memorable learning experiences from the year?
  • In what ways do you want 2023 to be similar to 2022? In what ways would you like it to be different?

As I finish up for the year, I just want to say a heartfelt thank you 🙏🏼 to my colleagues at Health, Counselling and Disability Services and Oasis, to the staff around the university that I work with, and to all the students I’ve met and taught and learned from this year. I consider myself very fortunate to do the work I do. I get to write, teach, develop and deliver wellbeing programs that I hope help people navigate the challenges and opportunities of life.

Earlier this month, I sent an email to those I’ve worked with this year to say thank you for the chance to work with them. Are there people you worked with/studied with this year that you could thank? The expression of gratitude is a simple but powerful tool for promoting connection and improving wellbeing. Modern life has us working our butts off, but often without it being recognised or acknowledged. When we take a moment to notice and say thanks to those that have helped us, we create a culture at Flinders that is a little kinder. And yes, that might sound a bit pollyannaish, but there is plenty of struggle to go around. Part of our power is balancing the reality of struggle, with the humanity of care, compassion and appreciation.

I have 4 weeks of rest and recuperation ahead of me. Admittedly, I’ve not yet thought about how to spend that time, but I know I’ll start each morning with a walk and a greeting of the sun and go from there. My psychology is such that how I spend my mornings colours how I spend the rest of the day. Start with purpose, continue with purpose. But I am looking forward to days where the possibilities after my walk are diverse and different from a standard work-day.

Rest periods are important. This includes daily moments of rest between bouts of intense work, but also the longer periods of rest that become holidays. I’ve got ambitious goals next year (e.g. delivering lots of training) and I suspect many of you do too. Without appropriate rest, I won’t be in the headspace necessary to push myself. I used to treat holidays with disdain. Now I try to embrace them as periods of calm before exciting but unpredictable storms of activity.

So I encourage you, if it is possible, to do your best to find some way to rejuvenate over this holiday period. I realise many of you will be working and using the time away from studies to earn some money to get other things done. But even committing to just one rejuvenation-esque activity during the holiday period might be all it takes to recharge the mojo batteries 🔋.

Whilst I have some recommendations for the things you could do (see our self-care document), in truth, each person needs to find those activities that truly recharge them. And it isn’t always obvious. For example, I sometimes think spending more time watching TV and ‘switching off’ will cause me to recharge, but that really isn’t the case. Yes, those activities ‘distract’ me, but they don’t leave me feeling better about myself. They leave me feeling drained. So what does work? Usually it is little projects, different from what I get to work on during the busy year, which help put me back into a motivated mindset. For example, I think I am going to focus on creating the best summer lawn I can and finishing a piece of artwork that has dogged me for months now. I might do some online guitar lessons or set off in the car to an unplanned excursion.

So my wish for you, dear reader, during this holiday period, is that you find the activity (ies) that truly help you recharge and actually find time to engage in them.

And I look forward to meeting up with you all again next year for another crack at this crazy rollercoaster ride we call life 🎢

Take Care

Dr G

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One thought on “My end of year message to students and staff (2022 edition)

  1. Thanks Gareth for all your work and for making this Newsletter so relevant and sharing so much helpful information in your Newsletter each week. I hope you have a restful break over the festive season and also have an opportunity to recharge your batteries for 2023. 🌟

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