I love it when something practical somehow launches me into a series of questions and ponderings. This time it was triggered by thinking about what time of the month to send out a newsletter that I am starting in 2023. I am aware that while my inbox is regularly bombarded with newsletters etc. I tend to get more at the end and the start of each month. Which led me to think that maybe sending it out on the 15th of the month, at the midpoint, might mean that it was more likely to be received warmly than with a sigh. Hence the name MidPoints.
I then started to think around this idea of midpoints, how I tend to put more emphasis on beginnings and endings and whether there might be value to lingering over the middle. The term for me evokes images a pendulum mid-swing, or a roller coaster at that point right at the top before it starts its descent down. I like to image that it is a chance to catch my breath before the second half. Whether that is a linear journey (like being half way through a delicious vacation, or difficult treatment for some disease) or more of a cyclical experience – solstice marking half way through the year.
The mid point evokes both abundance– there is still a whole other ‘half’ of the experience to go – and an invitation to savor and experience – the knowledge that this, whatever ‘this’ is, won’t go on forever.. Being only half way through there is still opportunity to reflect and course correct, to add on new features. When I used to manage programs, a mid-term evaluation, was the opportunity to regroup and rethink and redesign (unfortunately all too often the pressures of deadlines and commitments to donors meant that we missed the opportunity to do something radical).
The other thing I like about mid points is that they feel more discretionary in a way that beginnings and endings often don’t. I am always mid-way between something and something else, I just have to pay attention to what I am midway between and to listen to the invitation to reflect that it brings.
Daniel H. Pink’s book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing has a whole chapter called Midpoints. You can watch a two minute explanation by him here. He explains how midpoints can be either a time of slump or a time of motivation and it is up to us to be intentional about how we use it. He also refers to research by Connie Gersick who researched patterns of work in at meetings and project deadlines. She discovered that, almost regardless of the topic or the project – whether days or hours or minutes in length – the first half was marked largely by social connection, brainstorming and inertia. The midpoint almost always marked the shift of gears and starting the ‘real work’ that would get the proposal done. Pink writes, “Think of midpoints as a psychological alarm clock. They’re effective only when we set the alarm, when can hear its annoying bleep, bleep, bleep go off, and when we don’t hit the snooze button”. I love this quote – I want to punctuate this coming year and set some alarm clocks in advance … time to put some reminders into my calendar.
As we move into 2023 there will be a lot of reference to beginnings and endings. I am also going to be reflecting on my own personal mid-points.
Journaling Questions: Where are my own mid-points right now? What do I want to continue and recommit to for the second half? What do I want to do differently? Who or what might support me in this.