Setting goals for the summer

Summer is like New Year’s for academics: a time of reflection and goal-setting, both in work and in personal life.

2016–2017 was rewarding—I finished my dissertation and landed a tenure-track job—but intensely difficult. Neither of the New Year’s resolutions I made really worked out long-term.

I lost sight of writing 5 days a week while I was in the depths of interviewing and landing a job, although I got better about it when it came time to pushing to the finish line.

I meditated pretty consistently for a month or two, until interviewing and getting a job became extremely difficult and intense for me. This is when you need to meditate the most, or so the wisdom goes, but the last thing I wanted to do was sit around with my thoughts. Meditation is harder than it sounds.

Forgiveness being crucial, I want to try again, and set out some new Big Changes for myself before I get lost in the hubbub of the 2017–2018 schoolyear. Really committing to all of these would be impossible, so this is more of a brainstorming session. I will feel accomplished if I manage just one or two of these big changes.

  • Journaling with a pen and paper. I have a terrible and deceptive memory. I want to record the ideas I get as I get them. I want to keep track of the things I achieve daily, for revisiting when I have those days where I feel like I haven’t been useful in ages.
  • Designing thoughtful syllabi for my courses next semester. I’m teaching Theory III, Graduate Theory Review, and Graduate Analytical Techniques at my new job. I have a lot of planning to do!
  • Recommitting to exercise. Yoga has been difficult for me to do since I almost broke my toe a few months back, but I can still do select poses at home… I just have to get up and do it. Also, I’m considering lifting? I don’t know.
  • Writing a couple of blog posts. My blog is another thing that was left by the wayside while I lost my mind getting a job. But I have a few ideas for new posts: making a poster for SMT, reviewing the IASPM conference that I’m attending later this month, and just trying some casual analysis of something just because.
  • Reading an academic book or two over the summer. I have successfully started reading for fun again. But academically, I don’t have to read stuff that’s related to my diss anymore! I can read anything I want! I’m thinking of William Cheng’s Just Vibrations or Robert Fink’s Repeating Ourselves. I got a Kindle for my birthday so maybe I can even find Kindle versions of these things to make reading a bit easier.

I recently read a tweet that said that summer is an especially hard time for academics, because our work is already isolating, and summer takes away all our structure. It’s doubtful I’ll get to all of these things, but I hope this will motivate me on those summer days where I have trouble remembering what to do with myself.

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