After a big year of effort it’s important to take time for reflection, evaluation, team-building, celebration, and planning. Some of the suggestions in this article may be a better fit for early in the new year when you and others have had a chance to rest. You may also have different cycles for planning that fit for your organisation, so take these ideas on board for use at any time in the year.
It’s also important to acknowledge that many people don’t have the option of clocking off for the traditional holiday season. This may be due to working conditions, the seasonal nature of work, or the fact that the problems in the world don’t stop just because there’s a social consensus that it’s a down-time. The climate crisis will certainly continue to challenge the idea that summers in Australia can be peaceful!
However, if you are able to take a break, or make space for some of these activities, get the best out of it with the resources.
Why not take some time out to reflect on the year that was, before jumping in to plans for the next? Reviewing your activist year includes different approaches to reflection such as journalling, art and ritual. Plus there’s a handy worksheet for you to use.
Balance or Burnout? includes a list of things we need to balance to be healthy. You may find it useful to reflect on this list and what has looked like in your life over the last year. The downloadable worksheet includes a number of prompts for reflection and another useful framework related to burnout.
Thorough evaluation takes some preparation so if you’re reading this in December and hoping to evaluate before the end of year you may be expecting a lot from yourself and others! For a lower key version you could review the data you have available against your performance indicators or campaign objectives, and make some space for your team to do some simple ‘what worked this year; what should we change next year?’ reflecting together.
To get more stuck in see 3 tools for advocacy evaluation from the Change Agency and 3 templates for campaign evaluation from Australian Progress.
The end of the year, or early in the new year after people have rested, can be a great time to plan. Planning works best after some evaluation and reflection.
The Campaign Strategy Planning Template prompts you to apply a number of different campaign strategy, community organising, and civil resistance concepts and tools. Copy the template into your own document. As you complete each section delete the instructions (text in italics) until you have your own plan, or initial document to discuss in your organisation.
There are many more tools and guides in the Commons Library Campaign Strategy Topic.
After a big demanding year it can be important to gather as a team, to reflect, build relationships and prepare for what comes next. It can make a big difference to book an external facilitator to hold your group in this process.
Training for Change (US based activist educators) have a great set of team-building activities. Daniel Hunter, long time TfC trainer and 350 Global training director, has put together the Online Training Monster Manual with many training tools and interactive slide decks you can modify for your organisation.
Activists are often so focused on problems but it’s important to take in wins, whether big or small, to sustain us through the struggle. Celebration is an Activist Skill includes reminders of what we can celebrate, how, and why it is so important.
Do you need to celebrate with your team or supporters remotely? Naomi Blackburn from Australian Greens Victoria writes: “We ran our Victorian local government election campaign celebration on Zoom, which was fitting as we’d run the whole campaign remotely. We weren’t sure how a Zoom party would go but it turned out to be a really fun event. Feel free to adapt our runsheet for your own end of campaign or end of year celebration.” Access Campaign Wrap Up Zoom Celebration Runsheet.
Community Rituals has a free template you can use to to design your own end-of-year ritual. The template is for people who wish to acknowledge, honour, and celebrate the end of 2020 together. It will work best in pre-established communities; organisations, a community of practitioners, a mutual support group, a team or a family.
Support, Debriefing and Coaching
Finishing the year well may mean making space to process feelings, or making a plan to access more support in the new year.
Pt’chang’s Activist Support and Debriefing outlines why support and debriefing is important; elements of support; and tips for peer support.
If you are interested in accessing therapy Liz Scarfe’s Find the Right Therapist guide can help. You can find a psychologist via the Australian Psychological Society.
If your focus is more on skills development and learning through action and reflection you might like to connect with a coach. ChangeMakers Organising School held a session on Coaching as an Organising Practice which covered the basics of coaching and how to establish coaching relationships. Watch the video of Session 6 of Season 3 of ChangeMakers Organising School.
To be fresh and ready for the challenges of social change we also need quality time off. Coming down from stress provides some tips for getting the most out of a break, whether a longer holiday, weekends or any captured moment for potential relaxation.
Personal Goal Setting
The changing of the year gives many people the sense of a fresh start. After some rest and reflection you might like to take some time to set intentions for your 2021. Here’s tips for Setting Goals and Changing Habits, and insights from the craft of organising to Organise Yourself Healthy.