The Midsummer Hinge

You’re feeling it, right? That sensation of something creeping up on you. You can’t quite see it, but you feel it lurking, looming, inching ever closer…. Yes, it’s the fall program year kick-off!

Once August hits, it’s all going to pick up speed, so I’d like to recommend that you take some time before that inevitable rush to make use of the Midsummer Hinge – when things from last year are pretty much wrapped up, and things for this year haven’t fully locked in yet – to take some time to evaluate where you’ve been and where you want to go.

As I’ve done before, I recommend that you schedule an hour to do this work. Write it on your calendar, and keep the appointment! Find a room with a white board or get some scratch paper for notes, and use the following to help you or come up with your own agenda. (I’m assuming this for an individual doing this alone, but it should work with a team as well.)

First of all, review the previous year, keeping notes as you go. Where did you see transformation? Where did you see growth? What activities or events allowed people to be vulnerable and safe? What brought healing or reconciliation? What brought wisdom or insight? What brought people closer together? What allowed new people to be included? How might you build on any of these? Is there anything you think would be good to revise, revisit, or drop?

Secondly, think about what you’d like to see happen when you reach this point again next year. Don’t worry about what you’ve already got planned. Just imagine what you’d like to be able to say about the year next July, filling in the end to the sentence, “This year, we…” Again, don’t worry about whether or not this matches what you’ve planned so far. Only picture where you want to get to. Again, keep notes.

Now, take a look at anything you’ve already planned. How would these help you reach your intended goal? Is there anything about them you should tweak in order to help you with your intended goals? Is there anything in your current plans that really don’t fit with the direction you want to take? Is there anything you’d like to see incorporated that isn’t already there? And what did you learn from last year’s experiences that you can apply to your plans and your goals?

It may be after doing this exercise that you realize you want to make some changes. Here’s the thing: even if you have a calendar set for the year, it is not set in stone! What’s most important is not the program itself, but the transformation that it can support. As awkward as it might be now to make changes to your program, much better to do so now. There’s still time!