An educator’s (minor) dilemma: What’s a calendar year?

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With 2014 winding down to a close, a lot of folks are making end-of-year plans, assessing life events big and small during the past 12 months, and looking ahead to what may be on the horizon. Some may be engaging this process more formally: I recently wrote a piece for my professional blog on how writer and entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau suggests doing a personal, self-generated annual review.

As an academician and a lawyer, the idea of year-end, annual planning & evaluation has an inherent appeal to me. But here’s my minor dilemma: I’m not sure when my year ends!

At some point during law school, it dawned upon me that I should keep a schedule book. I was, after all, becoming a “professional,” and professionals have meetings and appointments. If I didn’t write them down, I risked forgetting them. So I went to the university bookstore and bought an academic year planner.

I’ve been using printed academic year planning books ever since, even during the six years I spent in full-time legal practice. Now that I’m in my 24th year of teaching, I’ve internalized the idea of a calendar year that runs roughly from July through June rather than January through December. Every May, I go to my favorite stationery store and pick up a weekly planner for the upcoming academic year.

So while much of the rest of the world is looking at December 31 as the end of their year, I feel like I’m right in the middle of mine.

As I said, it’s a minor dilemma.

But this does overlap with another more significant question, and that is how we frame and process spans of time in our lives. Some do it by the calendar, others by major life chapters, still others applying a mix of the two. It reflects how we order, sort, and package the notion of time in our lives.

For what it’s worth, I’m breaking my long-held pattern by doing a bit more reflecting and planning during this month and early January. Maybe I’m inspired by the periodicals and news sites doing their 2014 retrospectives, or by the ways in which the normal hurly-burly tends to slow down around the holidays. Regardless, during the weeks to come, I’m eager to devote some quality time to looking back and ahead.

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