My goals for 2017

As I was reading other people’s year-in-reviews, I realized that most combine the review with their goals for 2017 (like this awesome post by Noeska). So, now that my review of 2016 is out of the way, I’m excited to share some of my own goals for 2017.

Start my new job

In a few weeks, I will start my position as assistant professor, which I have many feelings about. “Starting a job” isn’t really a goal because it’s not quantifiable, but I feel like it’s a catalyst for many other plans I (will) have, so it had to be the first item on the list.

Submit. All. The. Papers.

New job doesn’t mean only new research, as I have quite a few overdue papers in the pipeline. Two are near submission, and there are four (!) others which I started which I would ideally like to turn into publications. I doubt that submitting all six is a realistic goal while starting a new job with new responsibilities, but I will give it a try.

What I will do differently about writing this year, is that I will write every day. I even made a resolution about this on Habitica, my habit tracking app:

Write a blog post every week

I actually started with this 2 months ago and it’s been going well, so I plan to continue this throughout 2017. I’ve made similar goals in the past, without success. I think the things that are different this time are:

  • A project called “Blog” on my to do list – I foolishly used to think that projects were only reserved for things involving code and publications.
  • A list of blog post ideas in Evernote, so that I’m never confronted with the “oh no, I “need” to write a post, what should it be about?” question. This would frequently end up in posts like “It’s been so busy lately, I’m not sure what to write about” which are not interesting to write or to read.
  • Summoning up the strength to share my posts on Twitter, so that people get a chance to read them. I’ve received some really wonderful comments from a few readers recently (thank you!), which is a powerful motivator to continue writing.

Again, this is where the Habitica habit I posted above comes in. On weekdays I will write for papers, and on weekends for the blog (as I’m doing now!).

Organize how I read papers

Instead of reading papers in bursts and (possibly) forgetting about them, I want to streamline this process to reading X papers per week and writing summaries that I will be able to use in my writing later. This goal is inspired by Raul Pacheco-Vega’s post on processing papers and Eva Lantsoght’s post on reading habits. The plan is that this will help me with the goal of submitting papers as well.

Read at least 1 book per month

There was a time when I used to read a lot, but lately this habit has really deteriorate, so this year I want to pick it up again. Rather than adding things to a “want to read” list, I actually bought the books I intend to read in one go. Here is a selection:

See what I did there? Reading these will hopefully help me with the other goals as well. This is another habit I will be tracking with Habitica.

There’s a pattern!

I suppose the pattern that is emerging, is that all these goals have to do with being productive and building habits. I see building habits both as the implementation part of other goals, but also as a goal in itself. For example, I think it will be more valuable to me to learn to write every day, rather than reach the threshold of submitting X papers. So perhaps an overarching goal for 2017 is: build habits that will help me reach my goals in 2017 and other years.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on setting and achieving goals, and if you have any goals of your own, so please leave a comment below!

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