Looking Back, Looking Forward


Merry Christmas!

As 2015 comes to a close, I take time to reflect on what I have accomplished and set goals for 2016.

I learned the value of reflecting on success during my first year of doctoral studies. With multiple rejections from peer-reviewed submissions (i.e. presentations and publications) during the past couple of years of PhD work, I believe that focusing on achievement is one way to help cope with ongoing rejection. Something I notice in myself is that when I make space to think about my success, this space promotes an inner drive and motivation to set additional goals for next year. So by reflecting on past achievement, I become energized to set goals for the future. Part of why this reflection is so important for me personally is that I do not always take enough time to evaluate everything I am doing. The end of the year provides me time to reevaluate my scholarly activities and if I need to change my focus or cut back in certain areas.

So here comes the fun part…

2015 Successes:

  • Another year of coursework completed
  • Four presentations and one national podcast given
  • Two peer-reviewed manuscripts published
  • One peer-reviewed manuscript accepted for publication
  • Two book chapters published
  • Nominated to serve national committee as co-chair
  • Book prospectus submitted to publisher for review
  • Nine blog posts

I am very pleased that 2015 was a rewarding and productive year for me. As I think about goals for 2016, I realize that goals for this coming year will mostly focus on two main objectives: the dissertation and applying for academic jobs. Here are some of my goals for 2016:

  1. Continue writing at least one hour per weekday.
  2. Complete (or survive) comprehensive exams.
  3. Complete first three chapters of dissertation.
  4. Defend prospectus.
  5. Continue discussions (contract?) with publisher about book prospectus.
  6. Create templates (i.e. cover letters, research statements, C.V., etc.) for academic job applications based on type of institution. These should be ready by August 2016.
  7. Give at least three presentations.
  8. Submit at least two manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication.
  9. Attend conferences in order to network for job opportunities coming open for Fall 2017.

Looking back at successes helps motivate me to look forward by setting goals for the upcoming year. By reflecting on success, I also remind myself that I deserve to be here and that I am capable of finishing this Ph.D. journey. Maybe this example can provide you with one template in staying motivated and being productive as the New Year approaches. 2016, ready or not…here we come!

Does this practice help you in achieving goals and staying motivated? If so, how? If not, what other activities do you utilize in order to set and accomplish academic goals? I look forward to hearing from you as we continue the journey of the Ph.D.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s