It’s not quite November yet…but I have goals for November and I have time to write, so here they are!
I like posting monthly goals in a public space because it makes me think consciously about what I actually want to accomplish and/or focus on in the upcoming month and holds me accountable to some degree. It also offers an easy way to flip back a year or two and see how much has changed. A year ago I wrote a post talking about how I had $1,375 in cash savings (yikes) and was working two jobs. That feels like a long time ago. Not in a magic thread kind of way, but in a positive, moving-forward kind of way.
(On a different note, a year ago we still thought Hillary Clinton might actually become president and that Donald Trump might disappear from public view and crawl back into a reality TV cave somewhere. That also feels like a looooong time ago, but in more of a how-can-this-nightmare-possibly-still-be-going-on kind of way.)
Anywayyyyy…so here are my goals for November 2017:
1. Finalize my application package for faculty jobs. This is, in part, an attempt to transition from micro work to macro work. A position as an assistant professor would involve research (macro), teaching (arguably a mix of macro and micro), and a variety of other responsibilities like mentoring, serving on committees, and reviewing manuscripts (mixed macro and micro). The thing is, faculty jobs are hard to get, and I don’t have a clear sense of how good my chances are. It actually feels a bit vulnerable to write about this endeavor in a public forum because it is totally possible that I could spend the entire application cycle applying for jobs and not get any offers – this sort of thing happens to people all the time. I’d like to think I’m being pretty realistic about the situation though. I want to give it my best shot, but also keep in mind that if I don’t get any offers, there are lots of other things I could do for work, and everything will be okay.
Anyway, applying for faculty jobs involves preparing a bunch of documents, including a letter of intent, CV, research statement, teaching statement, and sample course syllabi, and then tailoring all these documents to each individual position you’re applying to. Plus getting letters of recommendation. Plus preparing additional documents and presentations for potential on-campus interviews and job talks. Et cetera. It’s a lot.
2. Network. I’m not naturally a fantastic networker, but networking is important in getting a faculty job and so I need to do it. I need to email everyone I know who might possibly have insight into the job search process and/or specific positions, and anyone who might know someone at any of the departments I’m applying to. I need to set up informational interviews. I’m going to a conference in a week and a half, and I need to use that as an opportunity to meet people and connect. Oh, and I need to make a business card.
3. Catch up on research in my field. I’ve been a little out of the research loop for the past year or two, and I need to remedy this if I’m applying for research jobs. Luckily I just started using a new reference tool that I’m really excited about, F1000Workspace. This is a tool that collects and organizes research articles and citations so you can keep track of all the literature you’re reading and citing. I’ve used other similar tools in the past but am excited to start fresh. It’s kind of the same feeling as when you’re starting the school year with a brand-new 3-ring binder and brand-new pack of dividers.
4. Keep on keeping on with my current job. I had been thinking about trying to switch jobs in the near future but I’ve decided it would be better in the long run to focus my efforts on my faculty job search, which is time-consuming enough. I’d also like to be as positive as possible as I can about my current position even though it’s not where I want to be. (Although honestly if something else came up, that would be great.)
5. Read another book. So, in October I read Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, which I highly recommend. It’s a super smart essay collection covering topics like feminism, race, sexual assault, cultural beauty standards, media portrayals of women, media portrayals of people of color, reproductive rights, and competitive Scrabble (yes). I tend to borrow books from the library, but I’m glad I bought this particular book because I want to reread some of these essays for sure. The next book I read is probably going to be either Turtles All the Way Down by John Green or Evicted by Matthew Desmond, or What Happened by Hillary Clinton, or maybe Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple because I started reading that for my book club a couple months ago but then got distracted. Yes, this bar of reading one book per month is set pretty low, but hey, you gotta start where you’re at.
6. Use my time off wisely. I have a 10-day vacation from work coming up, starting this Saturday! I am so excited! I have taken only one vacation day since starting my current job in June, and I am READY. I will be out of town at the conference for a portion of my vacation, but the rest of the time I will be home and freeeeeeee! I will probably spend a lot of this free time working on Goal #1.
7. Financial goals. Even though money is no longer the focus of this blog, I definitely still have personal financial goals. These goals are mostly about trying to alleviate the anxiety that can come from being in your mid-30s with lots of student debt and very little in the way of retirement savings. My ideal situation would be to start a faculty job next fall with a positive net worth – meaning that I would still have some student debt, but my cash savings and retirement investments would exceed the amount of that debt. I’m probably not going to be writing about this much, but it would be a lie of omission to make a list of my goals without mentioning this one. (Because while it’s not specifically a goal for November, it does involve November sub-goals.
8. Meditate. I don’t know what my problem is here. I have a daily reminder set on my phone to meditate. I have lots of reasons to meditate. I believe that meditation has a lot of benefits. But according to my Calm app, I meditated exactly four days in the month of October. So what gives? Anyway, here it is again: meditate once a day. For five minutes or more. Geez.
Thoughts? Anyone who has been through the faculty job search process want to give me advice? Anyone want to weight in on what book I should read next? Anyone have suggestions on how to get yourself to actually sit down and meditate?