This is coming a little late because…I just finished writing up my PhD thesis!
Besides that, it has been a big year for many people in many places. I was in London as Brexit broke the news. I felt proud when I mailed in my ballot for the US election, but then felt deflated as I waited up past 4:30 AM London time to watch the results coming in. There were some ups, though, amidst all the downs. I welcomed a new family member, and packed up my things to move back home to New York.
Last year, I wrote several blog posts for my annual review (following the style of Chris Guillebeau of the Art of Nonconformity, who has mixed up his style a little this year). I don’t think I will do a full review here again at least this time, so here is a summary of my 2016.
This year was an eye opener for me regarding my research and the PhD process. I feel like I’ve overcome a few hurdles, and that’s prepared me to really punch it in during this final year of my PhD. Here’s some PhD advice and lessons learned for those interested.
I know this is a travel blog, but I haven’t been doing much traveling lately. I have a few things planned for this year, though, and hopefully I’ll get to a few new places in Europe and in Asia by year’s end and hit some of my travel goals!
In the first part of my Annual Review, I talked about how 2015 went. Then I wrote about my goals. The last bit of the Annual Review process is to set a theme for the coming year and write out a summary for what I’d like it to be like.
The theme for 2016
I want 2016 to be the year of conviction. I’m using the definition “a firmly held belief or opinion.” What I mean by that is I want to believe strongly in myself and what I’m doing in 2016.
I feel that I’ve especially not had confidence in my PhD work. I don’t need to be the best, but I do need to have more confidence in myself so that I can complete this work. It’s hard, and I’m sure there are many books and blogs about this, but a PhD is a lonely road. One of the hardest parts is that you have to stop yourself from comparing yourself with others. In addition, your struggles are uniquely your own. Though there might be technical things that you can get advice and help on, the ins and outs of daily independent research are specific to your own work. Consequently, all advice is largely general and unspecific. Talking to people helps, and the PhD group in my department has gotten closer this semester so that is a move in the right direction.
I wrote yesterday about what went well this year, and what didn’t go so well. That was the first part of this Annual Review process to review 2015 and start thinking about how I want 2016 to go. This post is about the specific and measurable Annual Review goals that I’ve set for 2016.
Last year, I started this process but I didn’t follow through with setting all my goals and specifying the actions needed for each goal. I also didn’t go back to my goals each month or quarter to check my progress or update what actions needed to be taken to work towards the goals. This year, I’ve filled out the spreadsheet template so that I can keep updating it each month and use it to stay on track for meeting my goals. I think it’s a good idea to come back to goals periodically, or else the only thing you’ve actually done was set the goals and not take any action towards them. The chances of actually achieving them will be quite low without reassessment and action.
Seeing as this next year will be the last of my PhD, it is as good a time as ever to do my first thorough #AnnualReview a la Chris Guillebeau and get prepared for a big year in 2016. This is my first annual review blog post!
Major decisions will be coming up, like where I’m going to apply for jobs and what I’m going to do in 2017. It’s been a good process for me to think through what’s happened these last 12 months and think about how I want the next 12 to go.