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New Year’s is a great time to consider . . . time, and how well we live our lives while we have it.
As a did in 2013, I developed some goals and intentions for the upcoming year. I moved this to the top of my site up here, both to keep me honest and to help me easily recall what I hope to focus upon.
I would not mention these and share them publicly if these were not valuable, doable, and within reach (with some stretching). While I will hope for help and support and positive intentions, these are the things I hope to accomplish in 2014:
1. Engage in Timely Communication
I want to engage in communication, such as via Inbox ZERO (delete, delegate, respond, defer, or do) and Social Media (Twitter replies, Facebook replies, etc.), in a more timely way to better engage in and maintain conversations with networks.
2. Use a Thoughtful, Evidence-Based Approach to How I Use My Time
I completed my PhD in Educational Research in 2013, and as a result I tend to observe things around me in researcher-mode, questioning and seeking to find evidence to guide my actions and beliefs. All this takes time, and I hope to make the best use of it.
3. Approach Nature through Principles of Somatic Experiencing
I feel in many ways I am too removed from nature — food, living, breathing, exercise, living in New York City, etc. I will plan to spend more time directly interacting with the Great Outdoors.
4. Maintain Financial Balance
I want to be more aware of what I spend, and where, in an effort to help me move forward toward meeting my goals.
Let the new year proceed, and may we live in interesting times.
I Will Finish My Doctoral Thesis (Dissertation) — I passed and was awarded my PhD forthwith on March 25, 2013. I then walked in the graduation ceremony on December 11, 2013.
I will Publish an Article — I have it drafted and am planning to submit it within 2 weeks. Fingers crossed!
I will Build a Consistent Online Presence [Twitter, LinkedIn, Academia.edu, ResearchGate and my own professional website — I have revised 75% of my site (most of it on the back-end with template and hosting), and am 80% completed with being consistent across my online life. Once the website is completed, I will take that consistency and apply it to the other social media and networking sites.
I will drink 2 liters of Water Each Day — my dislike of measuring and numbers-without-context means that I have successfully increased my daily water consumption.
Given all this, my verdict is that I am happy with my progress, though not fully satisfied. Perhaps in this the notion of onward and upward, making progress along the way and keeping focused on moving forward is what is most important? To be fair, I am not sure I could ever be fully satisfied, even if I did complete each of the goals / intentions I set. I believe that is the point with these things, they give us something to strive toward.
I have been fascinated with labyrinths since I saw my first one in person on the floor of Chartres Cathedral. Never would have imagined that this passion would have led me to want to build my own, which I did this morning using a smaller version of the Chartres pattern made of flour (ok for the environment AND it allowed me to see what it felt like before I build one next year out of stones.
Thankfully, I was able to walk it a few times before a round of thunder and lightning storms came through and made the pathways disappear. Perhaps there may be a lesson about nature in that.
I wonder how many other people have made something similar, or at least made use of the walking one that somehow seems to clear and focus the mind, body, and spirit?
I have been thinking about what New Year’s Resolutions I should grab onto for this year, with an eye toward how easy it is to have so many I readily forget, propose unreachable ones that defeat me before I begin, or even such ideal ones that . . . well let me leave the ideal ones for the Übermensch or somebody else with the time and wherewithal to focus on the unfocusable.
With this said, taking stock of what is realistic and needed, without seeming like work (hey, who gets excited with focusing on work?), I want to try to do something new for 2012. I do not want to focus on giving anything up–that only stays exciting for a day and motivating for about two. I also don’t want to focus on cutting out or stopping anything, as that also feels like I am doing without (and once again, I will not realistically be able to maintain it).
This year I am hoping to take an appreciative inquiry-inspired approach to my 2012 goals. I am planning goals that will advocate doing something positive, rather than not doing something negative. I will reenforce the behavior and direction I want to promote, and leave the bad habits and such alone, as the focus on the good will help to reduce those more unpleasant ones. While I will avoid SMART goals, as that will add a certain amount of pressure that I don’t need (once again, too much like choosing to do work), I am hoping these will still meet those same criteria.
Thus, my 2012 goals and my New Year’s Resolutions are:
1. I Will Finish My Doctoral Thesis (Dissertation)
I have spent nearly all my life in college and university, and have a handful of degrees and such to demonstrate the wide breadth of knowledge and skills and experiences I have had along the way, but now ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. I need to finish all of this formal stuff so I can in turn engage in all the nifty research and living that I have been putting on hold. I will finish my PhD (meaning defend it in the viva and fix anything that needs fixing) by the end of 2012.
2. I Will Engage in Fiscal Responsibility
I have never been good with money, and as I am self-funding my PhD now may not be the best time to start this, but I have to learn (or remember) some self-restraint. This does not mean I will get out of debt or stop spending anything (recall the appreciative inquiry above), but I certainly can have some restraint, something I will positively mention as engaging in doing something good, rather than focusing on stopping something not so good. I will focus on being responsible (something good) that still allows me to move about my day given my commitments and situation (cf. thesis work above).
3. I Will be Timely with Communication
Seems simple enough, though I tend to read emails or see Tweets or blog posts or the like, note to myself that I need to reply or post, and then move on. These electronic reminders then sit in my Inbox or in open tabs, while I busy myself with other tasks as I consider my replies and process or debrief what I want to reply to, or not. This means I at times take longer than I prefer to answer or file or delete (cf. Inbox Zero). So, rather than list exactly how long things will remain unanswered or unresponded to (too unbending for my personal life that will make this all feel like work), I will again focus on the positive by following the path of timeliness. Even as I am writing this I am down to only 6 items in my Inbox, so great strides are afoot!.
I have been working on this post for the past few days, and think it is now time to air in public. I know I wish to be around people who focus on these three seemingly unrelated items, and hope this will in turn help me to improve toward that unnamed person!
As we near the end of 2011, I have to wonder about how the year went. No, I do not mean in the news or the international stage or the weather, but rather where am I now? How did I do? How am I doing now? Perhaps looking back to debrief will help me look forward . . .
I am glad to say I am still employed, as that helps to keep most other things moving along. For those who may not know, I work professionally as a project manager in clinical education for a large home care nursing non-profit organization in New York City. I also teach as an adjunct instructor at Pace University and New York University, though as I am working on my doctoral thesis (aka doctoral dissertation in the US), I have significantly reduced the number of classes I am able to teach (presently teaching only a class on Teaching and Learning at Pace in the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program). I hope to teach more once I have those 3 letters behind my name, which brings me to my highlight of 2011 — my doctoral studies.
I am now engaged in my doctoral thesis in educational research, specifically in a program in E-Research and Technology Enhanced Learning, at Lancaster University in the UK. I am researching liminal experiences that occur during doctoral studies related to learning leaps or aha! moments. I have completed my data collection and, now that the transcription was just finished, am doing a final review of the transcripts by re-listening to the interviews while checking the texts before I return to the interviewees for their review.
I travelled to the UK twice in 2011, both times for academic meetings, with only one conference, the British Education Research Association, where I presented my work in 2011. I did take a quick trip to Dublin while on that side of the pond to visit a close friend from college, though otherwise no other travel to speak of.
I spent time with Spencer and Posey (in my arms in this picture), as well as with Michael and his increasingly fascinating work with his books and Christmas ornaments. Some time in the country exploring druidry, reading fantasy and science fiction, trying to make sense of actor-network theory, learning through the #change11 MOOC, and making wine (a hobby I am expanding in 2012, but more about that later).
I am thankful for all these things, and hope to continue all these things into the New Year, with one or two additions. Perhaps I will discuss my resolutions in a follow-up tomorrow . . .