Yesterday was the most important day on the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, the New Year holiday ten days before, is effectively a preparation for Yom Kippur. And the entire month before Rosh Hashanah, Elul, is baked full of traditions meant to ready us for Rosh Hashanah. In other words, Yom Kippur is so important we have to prepare to prepare and then to prepare! For over a month!
And what is the essence of all these preparations?
Reflection. Yom Kippur is often translated as the “day of atonement.” It’s a day of holding ourselves accountable, of taking a real good look at our actions over the past year, of doing what we can to right wrongs, of resolving to do better in the future. It is a process at once deeply personal and communal. But doing that emotional work with honesty can’t be done in a day. We gotta prepare to prepare.
Asking questions has been a big part of this year’s preparation for me. What does it really mean to hold myself accountable? How much responsibility do I place on my own shoulders when it comes to big systemic wrongs like climate change? Inequality? What does it mean to apologize for those things? What does resolving to do better actually look like? Is it ever enough?
I share all that not to now pose answers (sorry! don’t have them!), but to give you some sense of where my head has been, to share why the goal I’m sharing with you all for this CPA Incubator is all about reflection. I also want to apologize to all of you that I’m publishing this a day late! I’m so sorry! Thank you for reading this now.
And Here it is!
- Identify: In the next 6 weeks, write a new draft of my personal theory of practice
I have been drafting different versions of what I learned in grad school to call my “personal theory of practice” (PTOP) for over a year. My last version dates back several months, and a ton has happened since – I graduated, I spent six weeks in a Jewish meditation program, I began work with CPA – to name a few. I’ve learned a ton, and my PTOP needs an update!
What is a PTOP, you ask? A PTOP is an articulation of my best thinking at this point about the values, intentions, methods, ongoing questions, and reflections that guide my work as a professional and as a human.
2. Benefits: The basic theory behind this is that we all have theories, sets of experiences, values, and methods that inform our actions. Many of these remain tacit and unexamined (think behavioral economics). Articulating a PTOP is a process of shedding light on my own personal theories, which allows me to check my assumptions and develop aspirations. The PTOP can then be used as a tool to help make decisions and to cross-check against actions, to better align intentions with the actual effects I have in the world. In the context of my CPA work now, I find that having all this articulated can really help communicate about my work with CPA in a way that builds trust. It also, as I do this work of building, gives me a tool to ensure my work and my values continue to align and that I’m more fully harnessing the lessons I’ve learned from past experiences.
3. Challenges: Time and prioritization! Reflection is often the first thing to go when time runs short because it is not as urgent as other priorities. I’ve definitely been feeling that this last month. A great example is me publishing this post after the deadline
4. Skills and knowledge required: I have all that I need for right now. I am enough! The PTOP is perpetually in draft form, as I’m always learning.
5. People to work with: All of you! As well as other colleagues, teachers, and friends. We exist in relation to one another, so personal reflection needs to have a social component.
6. Plan of action: I will set aside 1 hour each week to write, in addition to time spent on CPA prompts and in conversation.
7. Deadline: end of this incubator!