At the beginning of this year we here at Portrait of the Scientist made resolutions for ourselves for 2016. Here is how reality lived up to those goals.
My goals were to gain confidence and enjoy the ride.
Over the past year I am not sure that I have increased my confidence, but I have done some useful exploring on the issue. I have recognized that I gain a lot of my sense of self-worth and confidence externally and that I am currently in a bad situation for that. My boss, and supposed mentor, is not a supportive person. This could be ameliorated by finding non-boss mentors, but I have not made enough of an effort to do so. So although my confidence per se has not increased, I have concrete things I can act on. ‘Luckily’ I am being laid off from my current position (PI cites his health issues, gives me 1 month notice, no support finding new position…potential rant for future post) so I will at least not have this bad mentor dragging me down in 2017.
I think I am doing well with the second goal. It’s hard to say what I have done to accomplish this, but I am feeling less stressed about having an exact plan for everything. I am able to recognize that at my age my parents had just moved several states away with two young children so that my dad could start grad school, all while shackled with a house that wasn’t selling. My family made two more moves after that before settling down. I don’t think my mother ever did find a satisfying career, but that doesn’t mean her life wasn’t enjoyable. The moment is worth appreciating even if it’s not the picture-perfect moment with everything exactly as planned.
I did a pretty good job on my personal goals, starting with having my baby! And I was super lucky because I happened to have the best baby in the whole world! I had a relatively easy transition back to work, thanks to my mom coming to stay with us for a couple of months. That went really well, and I’m a lot closer to my mom because of it. I tried really super hard to take care of my sleep and health, but sometimes there’s only so much you can do; I ended up having one health issue after another this year, including a chronic issue that’s still not 100% cleared up. But I can say that I worked really hard to take care of myself throughout, so I have no regrets about anything that was within my power.
For my work goals I either nailed them or completely missed. My first goal was to submit a grant for a career transition award, and I totally did not do that, and still don’t think I’m going to. Mostly for scientific reasons, but all of my personal issues have made me not even want to try. I did follow through on my goal to focus on work for my boss’ grants rather than my own, and have made enough progress to put together a paper, but between that and odds and ends for other people, I have really put my own work on the back burner and it has barely moved forward at all. Next year maybe I’ll get that happy medium. My spouse and I applied for faculty positions this fall and are moving forward in the interview processes, so I’m excited about that and will be reporting about it in the future!
I didn’t post any specific resolutions last year. I was not feeling inspired at the time (or maybe my past, pregnant self was just too tired to do it). I always have some resolutions in the back of my mind though, and if I had to follow up on myself over the last year and give a performance evaluation… I would say I passed.
While some of my neurotic tendencies still flare up, I have kept an open mind, hold myself back from reacting immediately to things. This served me very well in my professional life. I accomplished a ton at work over the year, despite getting to take a ~4 month break to adjust to new motherhood and take care of my new little human. And I have accepted a lot of help from other people. This was a useful skill to have especially at home when recovering from childbirth and figuring out how to care for a newborn. Reaching out to some friends about this for help on certain topics even helped start new friendships, which I am grateful for.
2016 had it ups and downs, but it will go down in my history book as a very successful year.
Resolution #1: Find a passion that can translate into a new career.
No, I did not achieve this. However, I did attempt. In the spring I joined a local moms’ writing group. It was geared more towards fiction/memoir writing, but I have stayed to improve my writing in general and to enjoy the company of smart, thoughtful, and supportive women. My discovery there was that in order to improve writing, you need to read more (duh). I don’t read much these days; perhaps my resolution for 2017 should be to read more. Although I do take pleasure in writing, I am not certain if it is my “passion” or will become my career…
Resolution #2: Lose 10-40 lbs.
For the first month and a half of 2016, I chronicled my daily calorie in and outtakes on a phone app. I took out alcohol and sweets almost completely from my diet and tried to stay calorie neutral or deficient. I lost 13 lbs! However, that was not the way I wanted to live my life. For me, life without booze and sweets is not worth it. I decided to go back to life with no restrictions, and my weight came right back up. In July, a new Barre studio opened near my house, and I got a monthly membership. I have kept up with going 3-4 times a week. Barre is not an optimum exercise for weight loss however. I probably should run or do crossfit if I wanted to be serious about weight loss. With Barre, I am improving in strength, endurance, and form (my shoulders look awesome! but not anywhere else). My weight is exactly the same as the beginning of 2016. I’m accepting that for now.
Resolution #3: Publish a post for this blog on time.
Um. I only posted twice this year. Two! I feel I should not even be here writing about my 2016. Regardless, for the two posts I think I was more or less on time…?
My resolution for my personal life for 2016 was to keep working on appreciating the moment, and to start meditating. I think I did pretty well with the goal of appreciating and staying in the moment. It’s been a lot easier to be in the moment because… I’m pregnant! It’s been a very exciting 21 weeks so far and I really think that I’ve just been too tired and sick (yup I’m still throwing up) to be as anxious as I usually would be. It’s also been a lot of fun to watch my body change and to learn about what is going on with my little one every week. I have also been doing pretty well with pausing and breathing when I do start feeling stressed.
I said that I wanted to try reviewing general chemistry – I did not do as well with this goal. I was given 2 chemistry textbooks and started reading both… but I only got a couple of chapters in and I don’t think any of the bits that I did review were very helpful.