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About this time each year, possibly because it represents the beginning of the new academic year or maybe that it also happens to be my birthday, I find myself thinking about goals. What might surprise you about this is the fact that I HATE setting goals, seriously hate it with the fire of a thousand suns.
Mostly, this can be attributed to my closet Virgo nature (i.e. I LOVE putting things in order; yet, I’m ABYSMAL at keeping them that way). This tendency means I have long track record of making plans, but not necessarily following all the way through with them, which just makes me feel like I fail at a lot of things. In my mind goal setting = setting myself up for failure.
Funny, then, that I would end up in a position that requires a lot of goal setting for me, and the program. As I think I’ve written before, I’ve figured out a way to deal with this at a personal development level. Each year at this job, instead of setting a concrete goal I assign myself a word for that year.
The yearly word, or words, operates almost like a meditative intention. I set the word and let it influence all I do. For example, my second year here my word was “Indepence.” Those of you who know me might find it amusing that I would feel the need to consciously cultivate independence (it’s pretty much mapped into my DNA); however, the first year of this position threw me for a loop for a variety of reasons, so the second year I needed to re-establish for myself and the new people around me this part of myself.
Last year I chose two words: visibility and vulnerability. Making my program and myself more visible on campus would require me to get out of my comfort zone and make myself vulerable. Given the number of partnerships I’m currently working on and/or developing, and my presence on division wide committees, I’d call the year of visibility and vulnerability a success.
In fact, it was enough of a success that I don’t want to give it up. Hot mess might not be the best way to describe my life right now, but steady simmer is fairly accurate. Change isn’t happening at this moment, but the groundwork is being laid and it could end up significant. (No, that is not just a vague metaphor for the academic job market.) Visibility and vulnerability will be essential parts of anything that happens for me this year, but they won’t be the only essential element.
At the risk of diffusing my intention with too many words, I’ve decided to add one more for this year.
From the Merriam-Webster full definition: confidence of mind or manner: easy freedom from self-doubt or uncertainty. The definition continues on to include – excessive self-confidence, but I think the visibility and vulnerability parts of my intentions will help me stop short of the negative connotations of the word.