Like many others in the blogosphere, I’ve adopted the profgrrrrl model of defining a theme for each year rather than a list of resolutions. In 2008, my theme was “Seeking Strategies for Survival, Sanity, and Success.” As I said a few weeks ago, the survival part was achieved, but beyond that, I’m not so sure.
This year I’m going to take a slightly different tack on the same general idea, and I’m not moving from my spot in the alphabet. My theme for 2009 is Sustainability. As in, I’m going to focus on trying to live my life that is sustainable in the long run for my body, my mental health, my family and my career.
I spent all of last semester frantically running from one deadline to the next, and I constantly felt like I was in triage mode, fighting only the most urgent fires. I was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the semester, and time with good friends at AGU and concentrated time with Minnow over the last few weeks have only begun to recharge my energy. I am a bit dismayed by the rapidly approaching first day of class, and I already feel myself starting to be sucked into the frantic vortex. But I am trying to stop the rising sense of panic, and while acknowledging that there is a lot to be done, remind myself that I must also allow time, energy, and mental space for things other than the nearest blaze.
Though I claim to have eschewed resolutions per se, I am at heart very much a list maker, so my theme is accompanied by a list of ways that I will seek to incorporate long-term perspective and sustainability into my life. Because these are not resolutions, I will not feel guilty if I don’t live up to them, instead I will think of them as guiding principles to help keep me on theme.
- Recognizing that graduate students are the building blocks of a successful research program, I will more coherently mentor my students, including scheduling regular meetings and progress reports.
- I will limit the number of grant applications that I submit, and I will focus my efforts on projects with larger payoffs and longer time-lines. Instead of submitting four proposals, I will aim to submit only two.
- I will transfer the time and mental energy I have used to write grant proposals into writing up papers, with the goal of submitting two first-author papers this year.
- Now that I’ve done most of the tremendously difficult work of developing new classes, I will aim to take better notes and revise my materials as I teach a course, so that I’ll have a clearer idea of what works the next time I teach the material.
- I will continue to be strategic in my selection of service tasks.
- I will continue to seek synergy between my professional career and my women-in-science interests.
- I will stay better abreast of the literature by not only perusing abstracts and TOCs, but by actually reading at least one article per week.
- I will not begrudge Spouse’s working hours and instead I will be thankful that he is working and that I get one-on-one time with Minnow.
- I will make dedicated time each day to focus solely on Minnow and enjoy her. I will not multi-task during those times and I will not feel guilty about it.
- I will prioritize responsibilities to ScienceGrandma and Brother ahead of career, as much as possible. (ScienceGrandma is having surgery on Friday and will be disabled for several months. Some of that time she will be living with us in Mystery City. Keep her in your thoughts.)
- I will continue to push Spouse to address his issues, and I will continue to be dedicated to our marriage, but I will not let his problems be an unending excuse for poor behavior.
Physical and Mental Self
- I will regain some control over my body this year. Having weaned Minnow, I need to finally stop eating for two, and I’d like to get my waist back. I’m down with the mom jeans, but I always prided myself on a thin waist and it greatly distresses me to see the paunch there now. My passionate love affair with chocolate and chai will have to be tamped down, I’m afraid.
- I’ve got some kick ass running shoes thanks to Dr. Isis, and I’m actually going to use them on occasion for their intended purpose. But I am not going to commit to ScienceMama’s challenge because I want the running to be something I want to do, not something to check off the list in pursuit of a goal.
- By the end of year, I will be in a yoga class again. I miss the physical and mental aspects of the practice.
- I need to connect with this place where I live and where I may spend the next several decades. In order to do this, I’m trying to take an outdoor picture every day. This will (a) force me to get out of the house/office every day, preferably during daylight hours; (b) indulge my interest in photography and maybe even learn something along the way; and (c) most importantly, help me to see the beauty in my everyday environment and encourage me to seek out the beautiful spots in the surrounding region.
- I will take some days and nights away from Minnow and away from work in order to do the things I love by myself or with my friends. There’s talk of a girl’s hiking or rafting trip this summer, I’m going to ScienceOnline in a few weeks, and my heart yearns for some solitude in the mountains. I will work to make such time away from home logistically comfortable so that when I do go off on my own, I will be relatively free from worry of impending deadlines or Minnow’s well-being.
- I will start to make our suburban-hell life in Mystery City somewhat more sustainable in the ecological sense, because that is important to me personally and professionally. On top of what I already do, I will start composting kitchen scraps, replace the sunlight-all-around back door, and add insulation to the attic door. I will seriously investigate how to use graywater around the house (we already don’t use much water outdoors).
- In order to make all of the things listed above come true, I will need to reduce the amount of time I spend procrastinating, especially on the internet. Thus endeth this post.