Thursday, February 14, 2013

Goals for the year

I'm a wee bit late in getting this post out here, since it is essentially my "New Years Resolutions" post. But in typical me style, I've been caught up in other stuff and failed to make the time to sit down and write.

Aptly that is my first goal for the year:

1) Write more - I like writing. I mean really like it. I like the head space it gives me, I like the therapy of putting my thoughts down "on paper" and the order that brings. I rediscovered this recently when working on my first "official" academic paper. It's part of the scientific process that I really do LOVE. The clarity and purity of writing to communicate complex ideas is something I cherish. During my undergrad degree, I wrote all the time, and back then I would NEVER have believed if you'd told me I would miss the assignments. But I do, I miss having a reason to write regularly. Being a PhD student means that other things get in the way. There's all the recruitment, and data collection and administration and project management and......... you get the idea. So, as the new year began, I decided that my number one goal this year is to write more.
It turns out that some of my fellow PhD students decided that they were making this same resolution. So, together we founded a writing support group for PhD students (you can follow us on twitter @writewaymore and we're on facebook as Writeway). Since we started this, we've encouraged each other and managed to be more productive. So I guess it's working.
I also need to count ALL forms of writing in this goal. This means including blogging in my "writing" category. I want to use this blog as a form of diary/journal. It will document my journey through my PhD, the ups and downs. I always find writing things down therapeutic  It helps me organise my thoughts and see the problems/issues/whatever more clearly.
If you're interested, then these posts will be here for you to read. But in truth, these posts are for no-one but me. I imagine that they'll be random and bizzare, because that's how my thoughts are.
I'm also going to include my Urbantangerine photography blog as writing. It's a different kind of writing again, with a very different purpose, but it reflects another side of who I am.

Which leads me into my next goal for the new year:

2) Be ALL of me - I started this post by saying that it was late because I got "caught up". Well this is something that I am aiming to change this year. I'm obsessive. This is often a good thing, but sometimes my obsession becomes everything. This is particularly true of my research. I constantly feel like I'm not doing enough, which means I'm constantly stressed out. It also means that I feel like I can never take a break. This got so bad recently that I've not been looking after myself, and have ended up sick. Still, I did not stop obsessing and I spent the first half of this week feeling guilty because I couldn't go to work OR do PhD stuff. So much so that Gary decided he needed to do something that would help occupy my mind, but allow me to rest. He gave me a photography challenge (check out the blog post for it here). That's how my photography started, with Gary dragging me away from the desk and putting a camera in my hand. So, this year I'm going to allow time for all my obsessions.

Leading us nicely into goal 3:

3) Shoot more - I LOVE photography. I love the creativity, the vision, the fact that it engages a whole different skill set and perspective of the world than my research. Stick a camera in my hand and my worries disappear. Suddenly all I'm thinking about is the images around me, about how to capture the light, the colours the emotions I can see. This is what photography means to me. I love doing it for it's own sake, but I also love sharing it. I have two weddings booked so far this year and a newborn shoot to get done. So I intend to spend more time with my camera.

So far all of my goals have been about me, but my next goal isn't:

4) Play more - I have an amazing little family. I'm lucky in that my son shares interests and passions with me, and I need to remember this more often. It's a privileged position for a parent with an adolescent, to have one that you can connect with so easily. This is also true of Gary, we share passions and interests and actually still enjoy spending time together. So this year I intend to spend more time having fun with my favourite boys.

My next goal seems in some ways a little stereotypical:

5) Look after my health: This isn't about improving my fitness or losing weight. I have a number of chronic medical conditions not least of which is terrible frequent migraines. Getting stressed increases their frequency and I end up in a horrible cycle of being ill, losing time, getting more stressed, being more ill. My doctor has increased my medication, but there are also some things I can do. For one, sticking to my goals above will help reduce my stress. But also, regular moderate exercise has been demonstrated to alleviate migraines. I have found this to be true when I've been doing Pilates regularly, but recently I "haven;t had the time" (see goal 2). I need to start making the time for exercise, and to view it in the same way I view taking my pills each day. I HAVE to find a better way of managing my health, because if I continue like this, I will NOT achieve success in my life.

Finally, I thought I'd share the goal that Gary set for us as a family this year:

6) Take over the world - I guess this is pretty self explanatory. However, joking aside, for me this goal means taking control of MY world. Being proactive to get things back on track, and getting in charge of things again.

So far this year, I've succeeded in some of these goals and failed in others. But it's still early, there's a lot of year to go.