I have always been a big fan of making lists, though I rarely ever complete a list that looks more than a few days into the future. However, after I finished my MA I decided to push myself to actually work towards longer term goals. I sat down and listed a few goals in a handful of different categories to be completed by January 1, 2012, July 7, 2012 (my birthday) and January 1, 2012. Roughly speaking I made goals for the fall semester, the spring semester (with some summer cushion) and the next fall. I tried to make all of my goals obtainable, particularly the first ones, so that I could build my confidence and reach higher with each milestone. Partially inspired by a ProfHacker post from last year by Kathleen Fitzpatrick, New (Academic) Year’s Resolutions, I made about half of them academic. In the spirit of accountability, I decided to go over some of my goals for the upcoming months here (and maybe I’ll even give a progress report and talk about new goals when 2012 comes around).
Entering the PhD program at UNL, I felt quite lacking in my presentation experience. The only conference I had been to while enrolled in the MA program was the Rawley Conference, which we (the history graduate students at UNL) run. This semester I have made it a point to attend another school’s graduate conference. I chose Loyola’s conference, because of good reviews from other UNL students and the fact that it is in Chicago (I know a lot of people currently living there). Provided I get accepted, I will be able to cross the first thing off this part of the list. However, I was also able to cross off the long term goal I had made myself in terms of conferences. My longest term goal (to be completed by 2013) for conferences was to apply for a major conference (i.e. OAH, AHA, UHA, WHA), which I did when I applied for the 2012 WHA a couple of days ago. While simply submitting a conference paper to a large conference is a rather modest goal (as opposed to being accepted) I felt it was more reasonable to simply make myself try and not get too discouraged upon (potential) rejection.
Like presentations, I really wanted to expand my CV with some publications (publish or perish after all). I also feel as though I have a few publication worthy papers already written (ok, submission worthy papers) that are only collecting dust right now. I knew if I indulged my habit of pushing things off I might end up with no submitted papers (as the topics would become hazy and another project would come along), so I decided for the fall I would get together a submission for a digital article from my MA thesis and the related digital project. The simple action of thinking about submitting this article has turned out to be a great start as I am now working on submitting a presentation to this year’s HASTAC conference on creating a digital article.
Ah, the dissertation. I will be talking a lot about my dissertation this fall even though I currently do not have a topic (hence the talking through it). Ideally, I want a topic idea by the end of the year. Obviously, there will be plenty of twists and turns that make the topic I begin with look a lot less like the topic I will finish with. However, I figure to begin the twists and turns I need a starting point.
To balance my professional goals with some non-school related activities, I am focusing particularly on physical challenges. I have never really loved running, though there have been times where I can build some tolerance. I set out this fall to run a 5k. Though I have been able to do it in the past I never actually got around to running an official 5k. Since I live in Nebraska, this goal gives me some extra motivation as every day I push back training means the 5k I do run will get a little bit colder.