I never really came up with serious New Year’s goals while in school, perhaps because of the automatic goals of courses (woohoo, GPA obsession) and the lack of significant free time that wasn’t taken up with either scheduled activities or homework. However, I’ve suddenly found myself in this weird thing called a job that doesn’t flow in semesters and where grades are basically non-existent (unless we count this as a pass-fail course where failing = getting fired, eek!). I’m no longer in structured extra-curriculars, so free time apart from working out tends to get ‘wasted’ by goofing around on my phone/binge-watching Netflix. If I’m going to accomplish anything significant at work (besides my ‘required’ work) and in my free time I will need to set deliberate goals.
With this in mind I finally (24 days late, whatever…) sat down and brainstormed some things that I want to focus on this year.
1) Read more papers! I did a decent job last year but know that if I don’t stay consistent I tend to get overwhelmed when I finally set aside time for a reading day. Instead, I’ve been focusing on reading at least 1 paper each work day, and keeping track of the amount of reading/basic citation information in a spreadsheet in addition to my usual annotated bibliography. I’m hoping that trying to read more papers will keep me on top of the new papers in my Google Scholar/Researchgate alerts, and will give me motivation to read a bit more widely and gain context for some of the techniques and clinical questions that range beyond the specific focus of my lab/PI’s current work.
2) Figure out what conferences I should be looking at for submitting/attending. The scientist who was in my role previously has been trying to send out FYI reminders about upcoming conference submissions, but I’d like to know further ahead when submissions are due. We missed out on one cool conference due to a missed deadline, and my PI isn’t super conference-focused so it’s usually up to lab members to bring up potential conferences to submit to. I don’t want to miss out so need to figure out what’s out there!
3) Attend evening Spine & Ortho lectures. We have ortho and sports-med focused grand rounds presentations every Monday mornings, so I have usually disregarded the evening presentation announcements as they aren’t as convenient and I figured they were more clinically focused. However, I finally attended one of the evening lectures on a whim this past week and it was AMAZING. And I’m not just saying that because it wasn’t at 7am AND there was free Mexican food (although both of those perks were brilliant). The presentation covered a complex topic in an entertaining, clear manner and the strong attendance included many more research (non-clinical) staff than I’d expected, as well as a strong showing of surgeons, PTs, and ATCs.
1) Read more books. My book reading took a serious dive during grad school, and never picked back up again in spite of the increased amount of free time and the extremely convenient public library. It’s tempting to browse Pinterest or Twitter instead of digging into a book, but I could use the attention-span strengthening required to actually read a book over several days/weeks, and don’t get the same satisfaction from short articles or posts that I get from a longer story. I’ve read four books so far: Fast Girl (by Suzy Favor Hamilton), C.C.Pyle’s Amazing Foot Race (by Geoff Williams), and Runner (by ultra-runner Lizzy Hawker), and Gratitude (by the late Oliver Sacks). Now I just need to remind myself how to balance reading with the rest of my activities rather than falling into the all-or-nothing reading trap and being unable to tear myself away from a book once I start going!
2) Create more art. Art is this weird balance of fun and work for me. Creating a really solid piece of artwork, and enjoying the process, requires me to fight my tendencies towards distraction and self-criticism. I love sketching, but haven’t made the effort to fit it regularly into my day, and haven’t worked on more involved artwork since summer and MM’s return. I’ve made a goal to fit art into my life at least 1 day a week. It’s not much but it should keep my sketchbook and pencils/pens happy and my drawing coordination and art-brain in shape.
3) Keep up my Duolingo Spanish streak. I initially started this because several researchers from another department are going to an international conference in Spain (see work goal #2 above…). MM started at the same time, as he has many Spanish speaking coworkers who inspired him to try to learn the language. Although I won’t be going to the Spain conference using Duolingo along with MM is a fun way for MM and I to learn something together. In addition, Spanish is a valuable language to know in our current town (lots of Spanish-speaking residents and tourists). So far I’ve been staying on track, though I’m sure at some point I’ll end up having to miss a day. It’s not really the streak itself that I’m going for, but more the consistent practice. Hopefully the vocabulary that I learned in high school will start to re-remerge from the depths of my brain!
Now I just need to remember what my goals are for the next 11 months so that I can see if I accomplished them 😉