The Internet is now slowly filling up with ‘new year, new me’ posts – and subsequently folk moaning about ‘new year, new me’ posts. I’m in the camp that setting accountable, bloggable goals works for me (and I didn’t really binge over xmas, kept things pretty mundane & hibernated for much of it) so I’m going to camp out on my own little internet island over here.
I’ve been working on PhD writing throughout December with a deadline for submitting writing from methodology chapter for the 5th of January.
The main goal (not resolution) for me in 2016 is to complete and submit the PhD.
It has been a long time coming – and the journey hasn’t been straight forward by any means – however I’m now in a position where I have a strong supervision team, a better understanding of what is my thesis is and shifted from the mindset that I need to prove I can do a PhD (by writing & doing lots, demonstrating that I’m working on it so I don’t get de-registered or fall through the gaps in the system) towards just getting on with the daily grind of writing and revising and submitting it for feedback and repeating. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.
In fact, here is a diagram of my PhD journey – I think the storm(s) have finally passed and now I have 10 months to wrap it up and move on.
Workwise – October, November & December were slow months, where I was ‘busy’ but mainly on work that needed to be completed from previous contracts and/or prior commitments. There were a number of things that needed to be ironed out – and now that has all been done now, thankfully. The main goal for these months was to ‘keep the heid’ and maintain what I could and not let the uncertainty creep up on me.
Then I had a blast of good news…
On the 1st of December, I signed a 0.6 contract at UWS as an associate lecturer in the School of Education, where I will be working on the PgCert in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education for 3 days a week. The remaining 2 days will be for PhD write up. I also have a ‘varied hours’ research assistant contract with the same school, building on the social media in education work once I’ve got some deadlines out the way.
I am so relieved as it gives me a fixed identity (begone existential crisis when folk ask you what you ‘do’ – I just do stuff, alright?), a steady, predictable income, with one job and one line manager – where as one point last year I had 4-5 contracts + freelance on the go and felt incredibly overstretched just processing the admin and managing the expectations of everyone I was working on.
I was fine to do that for a little while, but also with the PhD hovering over me as a priority, I had little to no time to think clearly about anything. And I couldn’t prioritise the PhD, or indeed my work interests, as I was doing a little bit of everybody else’s and never getting the chance to see things through beyond a small intervention.
Again, I always wish this was the circumstances that could have allowed me to write up quicker and earlier, but things are what they are and I’m starting the new year with a new job, a new space in an office (I can put my name on a door!) and a little more coherence and definitely more focus with career plan. This year has taught me that this experience is probably closer to the norm when it comes to academic life, despite what the university may tell you, increasingly I’m meeting PhD students like myself who have had that wobbly journey, working on multiple contracts, pausing, restarting, updating data – and I’m now starting to see them submit and complete, despite the clock ‘ticking over’ or hitting funding roadblocks or leaving supervision teams behind.
It. is. normal. and. you. can. get. past. it.
Anyway, 2015 was remarkable when it came to trips. I got to smash Japan off the bucket list in September. I got to be part of a tall ship’s crew in June. Both two things I’ve wanted to do but never had the chance in the past. I’m not sure if they’ll be much traveling in 2016 – really, again, the only thing I can focus on this year is doing a good job in my new role and finishing the PhD, but it is exciting when you start the year not really knowing what is going to happen and then something happens that you weren’t expecting.
This year, Mini and I gained a Speath. And then a few weeks ago, we all gained a second greyhound George. We are all moving in a bigger flat (just round the corner in Shawlands) at the end of January. I am excited about this the most.
Greyhounds for the win.
Tonight we aren’t doing anything, I’ve got to write all weekend. Start how I mean to go on. Next week, Rowena’s research group are off to Gartmore for a second writing retreat to focus on solo publications. I’m planning on working on an abstract & paper for the HEA Arts and Humanities conference in March and application for their #blogsquad. It’s a pretty good start back at work – along with marking and beginning teaching again for the first time in 3 years.
2016. Bring it on.