At the moment I am a master juggler. It's true, I have so many balls in the air and so far all of them are still in the air. But, not for long, I fear, as something will inevitably fall.
Last week I tweeted that I had submitted a job application ten days early, but what I didn't say is that I wanted to ensure that it wasn't a ball that fell. That application is important - really important. Doing it early meant I could give it the time and love it deserved. Like the article I submitted a few days later. The article is still out, but the notice that I'd not been shortlisted for the job came this morning.*
But now I am starting to feel the overwhelming enormity of all the things - a sample:
*Let's talk about rejection for a moment: it happens to all of us, there are job rejections, and papers that get turned down, and articles that you eventually retire into the 'Come Back to this Later' folder (last opened the day after you created it). I won't lie about this - I am really gutted that I wasn't shortlisted for this job, but I also know that I did everything I could do to make my application strong. And I have to remember that I'm a pretty strong candidate for my career stage, realistically. I shouldn't be surprised, because this job was probably two steps up from where I am now. So there you go - I won't be leaving Leicester yet (which, in itself, makes me quite happy!).
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Yesterday, I read a Chronicle ProfHacker article on Productivity through Accountability, and it could almost have been written by me. I am incredibly motivated by numbers - whether that's seeing a word count creep up (or down!), or seeing the reading pile get smaller and smaller, or filling notebooks with ideas and notes. Incidentally, it's also why I have a Garmin Vivosmart, and why I don't mind running laps or doing an out-and-back.
Earlier this year, I decided (following the advice of the wonderful Dr Marple) that this year I'd work on monthly goals (rather than a yearly resolution). And, well - I've failed to do so all but one month. So, I've decided to revive the monthly goals!
Goals for June
That's probably enough to be getting on with for now. In the spirit of accountability, I guess I will also come back and update this list and things move on!
How do you keep track of your monthly or yearly goals? How do you define deadlines for them (this is something I'm kind of struggling with!)? I'd be really interested to hear about your goal-setting!
Yesterday, the wonderful Dr Marple tweeted about monthly resolutions. One of the things I find difficult about year-long goals at the moment is the uncertainty of the future, so I am going to give monthly resolutions a go. Starting now. Although, I am going to stick with goal-related vocabulary.
So, goals for this month are simple:
I am also going to work though some of my (various length) goals in a Goals Journal, which I will start today. I am the kind of person who likes to write things down, and this seems a bit naff even to me. But, I am going to give it a shot, and see if committing my goals to paper, and setting definite end-dates for various things will help or not. Does anyone else keep a goals journal? How do you organise it, or what tips do you have for others thinking of starting one?
In other news (and related to my previous blog post here) I am now blogging on the Post-PhD Life blog over at jobs.ac.uk. My author page is here, where you can find all the post I have written (currently one, but soon more).
I can’t really complain about this year. After all, my PhD was awarded, which was great, obviously. But it was also really strange and disappointing. It has been a long time since I actually stopped working for more than a brief holiday – both through circumstance and (also) design. And I certainly didn’t stop working after submitting (I started writing a book proposal), and I didn’t stop working after my viva (I started writing a book), and I didn’t really ever stop working. It’s like the thesis bled into the book. Once you throw in all the time it takes to get job applications and research proposals written and that’s basically the entire year. It was also disappointing because this was meant to be the big thing I’d spent the last ten years working towards and here I was, finished, with no job and no real plan beside ‘finish book’.
So, submitting the book manuscript felt like a much bigger achievement than the PhD. It’s currently out for review, and I’m sure there’s still a fair way to go before it’s finishing. But I completely overhauled my thesis and added some new sections, and I’m actually really proud of it. Much prouder than I am of the thesis itself.
Some not so great stuff happened as well – but it’s stuff that happens all over the place. I had an article rejected (although the feedback was very helpful, and the journal is open to looking at it again after revisions). I had some conference abstracts rejected. I didn’t get a full-time job, which is much harder after having interviews that I now replay over in my head to try and figure out what I should have done differently (but, I also got some good post-interview feedback too).
And, I’ve now finished teaching for the academic year, which actually is really sad. I enjoy teaching immensely, and I’ve had four particularly wonderful classes of students this semester. I have also tried out some interesting new activities, and generally been significantly more reflexive about my teaching than I’ve ever been. Related to that, I’m currently applying for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy, so I am writing more formally about my teaching, which is making me (pre-emptively) miss it even more!
I find it really difficult to think about goals and plans for the year ahead simply because I do not know what situation I’ll be in. My two big goals are obviously to get the monograph finalised and to get a full-time job for the 2016/17 academic year. I have a few things in the pipe-lines that I would like to get finished fairly soon in the year, including an article about the cult of Demeter Chthonia in Hermione that is almost done. And, of course, in March I am giving a paper at the Early Career Seminar series at the ICS on ‘classical monsters’ in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I have a few applications for postdoctoral fellowships out or in the works, so right now I am most focused on those.
Thinking about 2016 fills me with hope and anxiety. Being a newly-minted PhD without a job is a difficult place to be, but one that is certainly not unique to me, nor uncommon more generally. I would be lying if I wasn’t spending my holiday thinking about heading home to no job, and no more teaching. But, all I can do is put myself in the best possible position to be a strong candidate for the next job round, and that’s my goal.
What are your 2015 achievements and goals for the coming year?
Week one of #AcWriMo has been over for three days now, but I am feeling pretty good about my progress so far (as always, you can track everyone's progress on the #AcWriMo Accountability Spreadsheet). So, in the last ten days I have:
Tomorrow is my day off with Child (seen above, 'working' as I work), and I hope to do a little bit of reading, and some work on my research proposal while she is at ballet. Thursday and Friday will be dedicated to getting the manuscript in tip-top shape, and starting to flesh out my (next) book proposal. And that book proposal will be the task for next week.
And then continuing...
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