At the start of the year most people take stock of their lives and often like to make predictions and resolutions for the upcoming year. We’re well into 2013 but to be honest it just flew past so quickly I’ve barely had time to notice. So I’m a little late to all this and this year I actually want to do something different.
The first is to take stock and develop a vision of where I current am. I also want to extend this into my professional life and areas of interest so I think this will be a series of Current State themed blog posts.
To start off lets take an introspective look to begin.
The Current State 2013: Me
I am happy with my lot so far. I’m quite comfortable, well paid and living the middle class dream. I own basically nothing – staring at what seems like a lifetime of car, house and credit card repayments – but that’s OK as long as the pay checks keep rolling. That said I feel like I’m missing a challenge – particularly in my professional life. Work is relatively fulfilling, but lacking in a real challenge that requires me to immerse myself and pushes my abilities.
In 2012 I managed to get published – three times – and I liked it. I got to write my own paper and also co-author with two fantastic sets of people and it was an extremely satisfying experience. This was original work and it was challenging and it forced me to think – is this what I’m meant to be doing? Co-authoring papers and seeing my measly BA next to all the PhD was quite thrilling but also quite daunting. I’m no high flyer here.
You see, I already have a career. I’ve been working professionally for more than a decade in the field and I’m comfortable. I’m well paid and I know what I’m doing. Taking the research route will take me out of that comfort zone. I’ll have to take a pay cut and jump into a foreign area of work. It also means that if I wanted to take the classic academic route – which looks quite appealing – I’d be starting from the bottom again. The big problem is that I’ve just gone through the process of building a career. I spent a decade doing it, grafting, sweating and sacrificing – so losing all that to start again doesn’t sound too appealing. I’ve read a bit on early career researchers – but that’s not quite me. My category would be something more like late career researcher. I don’t really know what the opportunities are for those late-career researchers.
It would seem that I have reached somewhat of a crossroads professionally – do I take this research further and open up new career paths that way or continue on my current course, working on the nuts and bolts at the nexus of technology and education? To be honest my answer would be that I’d like to maintain both aspects – the dilemma is that it seems like I can only choose one. Perhaps there are opportunities or areas that I’m not aware of – in fact I’m sure there are – but defining my professional future poses and interesting challenge in itself.
The other part of me up for some serious consideration is my ability to do. I am adept at thinking and even writing about actions – the problem is actually getting around to doing them. I am a fantastic procrastinator and all too quickly fall back to routines that are comfortable, known and safe. The thing is I know I can change because in the last 3 years I’ve managed to quit smoking and cut out about 99% of the sugar from my diet. These are biological addictions that aren’t simply changed, they require effort and action. So I know I can change, but how do I getting it done?
So here’s my deal for 2013 – Just Do It. Yes, I plan on making t-shirts and maybe adding a big tick to symbolise me getting these things done. 🙂
Seriously though, it’s about me making the effort not to over think things, not to confuse making a list with the effort of getting it done and not to get caught up in doing what’s comfortable. Quitting smoking was actually quite easy looking back – but it required the mental and physical effort to not give in and have a smoke. It didn’t feel like willpower at all – just an actual conscious decision and reciprocal physical action to just get it done. Seeing as I’ve already come up with my list of things to do – this should be easy (famous last words!).
So that’s my current state: reflecting on my professional options and just doing things.
I’ve decided that seeing as I missed the calendar new year my date is the Chinese new year – February 10th. Seems to be an interesting coincidence that it is described as such:
“This 2013 year of Snake is meant for steady progress and attention to detail. Focus and discipline will be necessary for you to achieve what you set out to create…
… Research and investigation are supported. The Snake has sneaky energy that can be to your advantage. Look for the holes in the loop. A new-found ambition to greatness will inspire you to be all you can be, and provide you with the follow through to actually achieve your goals…
…The Snake likes protection, needs to feel safe and secure to utilize its special analytical skills. This is the year to make headway in slow and methodical ways. Things will definitely be accomplished as you focus forward.”