My goals for 2019 – 12 week year

I’ve been setting and reviewing goals for two years now, both in Evernote (part of my GTD setup) and here on the blog (2017, 2018). Although I try to do this systematically, I find it difficult to stay on track throughout the year, and, at the end of the year, to review everything that happened.

This year I want to try something different, borrowing from the 12 week year idea. I’ve heard about this on several podcasts that I listen to, but have not read the book or followed any courses they offer. My (naive?) take on it is that you only set goals for the next 12 weeks, and only focus on a few things at a time.

I’ve had some momentum with writing recently, so I decided that my main focus for the first part of 2019 is going to be writing as well. What am I going to write? Here’s where the “few things at a time” thing went wrong. Here’s my plan:

  • Draft of a survey on arXiV (in progress already)
  • Submit a paper to MICCAI
  • Write a lab guide and share version 0.1 with my student
  • Finish writing my teaching portfolio and submit it
  • Draft 36 blog posts (!!!)

That’s right, next to all the academic writing I am going to draft three quarters of the blog posts that I want to schedule for this year. This is an experiment, since I think I can get more done if I either just write, or just publish posts (share them online, etc).

How I am going to do this? I have to write 250 words a day, just like I did in November. That by itself will not get all the writing done, but it’s a great habit that helped me focus. I’ve also been increasingly planning my writing in pieces which take me 30-60 minutes to finish, and scheduling these on my calendar, so that’s a good habit to continue too.

I also updated my weekly review template a bit. I had a single note for each quarter last year, whereas now I already made 12 notes where I will fill in my reviews. Each note has a copy of the goals as a reminder, and specific questions on how I’m progressing with each of them.

Next to writing, I also have health and exercise goals in the same weekly review, but these are “maintenance” goals rather than challenges, so I will not be reviewing these on the blog.

What are your goals for (the first months of) 2019?

My goals for 2018 – final progress report

As promised on Twitter, here’s an update with what has been happening with my writing and personal 2018 goals. You can find the previous reports on 2018 here and here.

Writing

I have previously submitted my survey on semi-supervised, multiple instance and transfer learning, and this quarter I received the reviews! This has been my most positive review experience to date, since I got the reviews back after about 2 months (compared to 9+ during my PhD). All reviewers were generally positive about the paper and had constructive comments. I planned out the revisions in Todoist and submitted a new version in December. Fingers crossed!

I also finished and submitted an invited paper with the best title ever, “Cats or CAT scans: transfer learning from natural or medical image source datasets?” (arXiV). Again the review process was smooth and after revising the paper, just before the end of 2018, I got news that it was accepted!

In total that’s three papers (two accepted and one revised) that I consider published for 2018. One less than the four I was aiming for, but I’m proud of this result.

Blog

Nothing new to report here since last time. Blogging has been a little bit on “stand-by” while I was addressing other issues. Looking at all of 2018, my numbers are up from the previous year, although a large part of that is due to one viral post.

I am convinced now that I need to batch writing, editing/publishing and improving my website in general as different activities. More on this in my 2019 goals post!

Health

The most important thing I did this quarter is that I got help for problems I have been experiencing, and really saying no more often. This has made a big difference in most areas of my life.

An important health-related difference is that I can now finally say I enjoy running. Partly this is due my brain functioning better, and partly because I’ve started running slower. I didn’t get to my goal of 10K under 1 hour (but was close), and I did a 15K, so overall I’m satisfied. In 2019 I’d like to continue running regularly and – now that I feel I have a bit more headspace – incorporating more strength training into my exercise.

Everything else

It’s a bit weird to only reflect on the things that I wrote down as goals at the start of 2018. Sure, the writing and health parts were the some of the most important things this year. But here are a few other important things from this year.

  • I supervised my first MSc student and hired my first PhD student
  • Two grants were rejected
  • I met several people from Twitter and made new friends
  • I had to cancel several projects due to my health
  • I received a few invitations for talks etc that I’m excited about, see a few of them here
  • I met my friends regularly for trivia quizzes or BBQs
  • I joined a choir and started taking singing lessons
  • My cat Buffy passed away 🙁
  • I got two kittens, Pixel and Dot

I also shared several of these (that I tweeted about previously) on Twitter, the thread starts over here:

It’s difficult to review a whole year. Next year, I will be trying something a bit different…. stay tuned!

My goals for 2018 – progress report 2 & 3

It’s already October (!) and the fact that I’ve managed to forget writing anything in the progress reports category, probably tells you something about my progress… Nevertheless, I’m holding myself accountable, so here a few short updates.

Writing

I finished THE survey on semi-supervised, multiple instance and transfer learning I’ve been working on in April and uploaded as a preprint to arXiV, inviting feedback from readers. This was quite scary to do, but in the end also very rewarding. I now submitted the paper to a journal.

I also published a workshop paper about predicting melanoma from visual ratings of the images, which I crowdsourced from my undergraduate students last year.

Kanban board in my office | veronikach.com

Progress is slower than I would have hoped overall – to catch up with my goal I would need to finish two other papers by the end of the year.

A strategy that is helping somewhat is to aim to write 250 words a day. That’s not a lot of words, but I notice that on the days that I do it in the morning, I am probably going to write more than that, whereas on the days that I ignore it, I will not end up writing at all.  Having a Kanban board in my office where I see in which stage each paper is, also helps – thanks to Eiko Fried for the idea.

Blog

Once I’ve relaxed my blogging once a week goal, I’ve started slacking off on this… It has been good for me to not have this obligation on top of everything else, but at the same time it is a shame because in the end I feel like this is one of the most important things I’m doing. What was great is that at one point I prescheduled posts for several weeks. I’d like to do this again, but it’s difficult to get into a mindset of writing a lot upfront.

I did get a little bit of income (perhaps $25) from the blog, especially after the How I Fail post by Ian Goodfellow went a bit viral. But because my provider was so unhelpful about the problems the traffic caused, I also had to switch providers, so it’s definitely not a profitable business 🙂

Health

I am still not particularly enjoying the running itself and don’t recognize this feeling of endorphins that people talk about. I have, however, become an avid sign-upper for 10K races. Not an avid runner, but the accountability of the races at least forces me to train regularly, so that the race is not terrible. I recently did the same race, as my first ever 10K one year ago, and improved my time a little bit (though not what you would expect after a year of training).I haven’t been doing particularly well mental health wise. Although I do say no to more things (and slack off from things I “have” to do, like blogging), anxiety has been getting worse and so has depression. It’s easy to view everything I do in a negative light – I haven’t made enough progress on this, I haven’t been appreciated enough for doing that. But, I’m fortunate to live and work in a place where I can get support for these things. This is therefore the most important goal to focus on right now.

My goals for 2018 – progress report 1

Wow, it’s already the end of March! That means it’s time for a progress report of the goals I set myself for this quarter (writing and everything else).

Writing

First things first, I failed to submit the paper I wanted to submit. But the plan I made for myself of writing for 1 hour every day is really helpful, so I am getting close, and that still feels like a win.

Next to the submitting, there are other improvements I’d like to work on. My writing sessions are not as structured as I imagined, i.e. I often can not quantify how much I have done. I know people often use word counts, but it doesn’t feel logical to me because part of the “writing” I am doing, is reading papers. I do write brief notes about each paper, but it doesn’t feel the same as writing in the final document.

I also did not report my progress more often on the blog, as I wanted to. Judging by the amount of views and exactly zero comments, I don’t think this is something people want to read about. Give me a shout if I’m wrong 🙂

Blogging

I am still blogging every week, even though it’s hard! I wouldn’t say the reason it’s hard is the lack of time or ideas, but it can take a lot of energy, which is a scarce resource these days. I have been able to batch posts a few times, but mostly I’m writing in “maintenance mode”. So, for next quarter, batching is the thing to work on.

I also wanted to see if I could earn EUR 25 from the blog, to cover its costs. If you believe Pinterest, people are earning thousands with their blogs, so I thought EUR 25 should be reasonable. I have abandoned AdSense again because earning 1 cent a day is not very motivating. On the other hand, I did get my first Amazon gift card of $17, by recommending only products I have bought and used myself. As I said, this is not a priority, but an interesting area for me to investigate.

Exercise & Mental Health

Still keeping up my running habit, so that’s a win! I actually have running as a todo list item in Todoist now (as opposed to just Habitica), which could be helping. I now signed up for two 10K races in May. One of them is an “urban trail run” and goes through several buildings, so it’s more of a sightseeing activity, but I hope to get a good time on the other race.

I have been slacking off on some other healthy habits. I can feel guilty about this, but on the other hand, it feels like there is a bit more space in my brain now, and maybe that’s the healthiest thing I can do right now.

 

My goals for 2018 – Writing

I mentioned in my previous progress report that I never really wrote down any goals. Writing them down was a good exercise, but clearly some things also went wrong. In this post I talk the most important goal – writing – and what I will do about it in 2018.

Pitfalls

My “Submit all the papers” goal was way too abstract. Although I had an idea of how many papers I wanted to submit, and therefore also how often I would need to do that throughout the year, I did not plan how I was REALLY going to do this.

Another thing I realized is that a year is just too long. It is easy to postpone something you haven’t done to later on in the year.

I also did not review the goal often enough, and didn’t have the same kind of accountability I created for myself with my blogging goal. Below I explain how I want to improve these points.

Goal

This time I’m going to try something different – the “12 week year”. There is a whole book about it, which I haven’t read (yet?), but there is a lot of information online, such as this post by AsianEfficiency. Basically you set goals per quarter, rather than per year. A quarter is easier to plan, and the review/evaluation is much sooner, which helps to stay motivated.

After examining the commitments I already have, I decided my goal is to submit ONE paper before the end of March. It’s a survey paper of sorts, and I have started on it, but did not get very far. It is a paper that I think I will enjoy writing, and will have some impact. So, there is really no reason to put if off any longer.

 

Plan

Ideally, I would plan out all the sections I need to write and when I will write them via my Todoist/Google Calendar system. But I find it difficult to estimate what sections I need, and how much time each section is going to take. I will go through this planning step, but I will also do something else. I will get into the habit of writing for 1 hour each weekday.

This idea is inspired by this #AcWri challenge by Jo van Every. She talks about 15 minutes a day, but I am reasonably confident I should be able to get an hour in, with the following rules:

  • I can split up the hour into blocks of 15 minutes
  • I can exchange blocks between days
  • There has to be at least 1 block per day

If I aim to write during my morning commute (1 hour train ride) and for at least half an hour when I get to the office, I would even more than the required time in. But since I don’t expect to have this “perfect start” every day, moving the hours around a bit should help.

 

Review and accountability

I also need to update how often I review my goals. When I wrote about my GTD system, my weekly review was mostly focused on the week ahead. Later I also added a “what did I do this week” note in Evernote, but it was disconnected from my “goals” note.

Now I actually made a table with a row for each week, and two columns: “what did I write” and “what else did I do”. I already prefilled the second column with several commitments I have. This was quite a revelation – I do see why I had a hard time writing last year!

Lastly, I plan to report my progress with the “what did I write” column here on the blog. I want to do this more often than once a quarter. Once a week (together with my weekly review) would be logical, but it seems a bit of a waste of a blog post. So I would either need to add more things to the post, decrease the frequency, or do something else that I haven’t thought of. Please leave a comment if you have ideas!

My goals for 2017: progress report 4 of 4

It’s already the end of December – time flies! It’s time for another quarterly review of my goals for 2017. You can find the three reviews here, here and here.

Start my new job

It’s almost a year ago now that I started my tenure track, which I am still sometimes finding hard to believe. Although not all things went as I planned, it’s been a year that I’m proud of. I’m not quite ready for a “one year on the tenure track” post (see a great one here though) but my main take-aways would be:

Submit. All. The. Papers.

No progress here. I was feeling overwhelmed in the previous quarter and decided to drop a few projects, then concentrate on finishing up other important/urgent ones (grant writing and teaching) first. This was important and effective so I don’t regret it, but I will need to approach this better in 2018 – writing is the main focus!

My writing should probably take lessons from my blogging (see below). I am thinking about adapting the idea of weekly targets that I’m accountable for to writing – perhaps weekly reports with digests of papers I’ve read, and how much I’ve written?

Write a blog post every week

Going strong for over a year now! If only I could also do this with my other writing…

 

Read at least 1 book per month

Yes! Here are the latest additions:

I recommend all of them, but if I had to choose a favorite, it would be The Productive Researcher, because I imagine I would read it again in a few months.

I recently got a Kindle which increased my reading frequency… so in 2018 I might go for 2 books per month.

Bonus goal 1: Running

This is a goal I revealed only in part 2 of this series because I didn’t dare to write about it before. In part 3 signed up for 10K. Now I am happy to report I finished two 10K races, in 1 hour 8 minutes and 1 hour 5 minutes. It was a bit tough, but definitely something I plan to do again – perhaps under an hour in 2018.

 

Bonus goal 2: Finances

Another goal that I only revealed later – reducing my mortgage from six to five figures. I was successful in doing so without too much effort, so although it’s a big milestone, it’s somehow less satisfying. What I did find satisfying was tracking my savings rate (explanation by Mr Money Mustache), which is now 50% on average.  This calculator tells me that with this savings rate I could retire in 17 years, but if I get it to say, 75%, this time is shortened to 7 years. Not really something I’m planning to do since I’m enjoying academia a lot right now, but it’s good to have options.

Bonus goal 3: Headspace

Following up on the tradition, here is another goal I had – and achieved – finishing ten packs on Headspace. I would have laughed if you told me a year ago I would be meditating regularly. Not that I don’t believe in its benefits, I just didn’t think it was for me. And it’s pretty hard. But despite being quite terrible at it (my mind has a hard time staying quiet), I do think it has been quite helpful.  This is definitely one to continue in 2018.

 

***

Thank you all for reading along this year! Perhaps this would surprise people, but I have never set such goals before, or at least never written them down. This has been a helpful exercise, even though I didn’t achieve everything I wanted. I hope to improve my process in 2018 and hope you keep reading to keep me accountable 🙂

My goals for 2017 – progress report 3 of 4

It’s the end of September, so it’s time for another quarterly review of my goals for 2017. You can find the first two reviews here and here.

Start my new job

Last time I said a better name for this goal was “develop a system for working in my new job”. The “getting things done” system I described last time is still doing its job and I have even written more detailed posts about it, here and here.

But maybe the name of the goal is not so bad after all, because I realized that every time I’m still introduced to new parts of my job. Although I started in February, it was only a few weeks ago that I also started teaching, so everything feels a bit more real now. Against all the new faculty advice, we (each course is taught by two people) did setup the course almost from scratch instead of following the plans from previous years. I don’t regret this for a second. Although there is an initial time investment, it’s more motivating and I’m excited to see how we will improve the course for next year.

There were a few other “first times” that happened this quarter, all having to do with getting invited to speak or review. That feels pretty awesome! I think that next to my job title, this website and Twitter have been very helpful with that, so next to feeling valued for my work it’s nice to see that the time I invest into my online presence is also paying off.

Submit. All. The. Papers.

As probably happens to most new faculty, this didn’t happen. The counter is still on 2 out of 5. In my defense, I did actually write, but it was related to revising the 2 previously submitted papers. I have another revision due in the next quarter, so just like 2014, this year is a year of revisions.

I will be happy if next to the revisions, I can move one of the other projects along, but more realistically, I will only get to these in 2018.

 

Write a blog post every week

Still going strong! The past weeks it’s been a been difficult with travelling to a conference and teaching, but I’m glad I’ve still been able to keep it up. Although it feels like a part-time job, I’m realizing more and more that it’s meaningful for me to do this (and that I should have done it a lot earlier!), so I prioritize blogging even if I don’t feel like it.

 

Read at least 1 book per month

I finished reading “Reamde” which I started last time and am now reading “How Learning Works“. I really like reading it while I’m teaching, because I notice ways in which I could implement the advice in the book.

I guess I didn’t manage the “1 book per month” thing since Reamde took me quite a long time to finish, but overall for the whole year I’m still on track. Next on my reading list I have “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss – very excited about that one!

Running

Last time I cautiously shared a goal I didn’t dare to discuss before (fear of failure?) in the beginning of the year – running.  A few months ago I had started with short and relaxed, but frequent runs. Since then, the frequency has suffered a bit, but the distances have increased. I even signed up for a 10K, which is happening this weekend – fingers crossed! (Also, shout-out to Married without Children podcast for the motivation!)

Bonus goal: Finances

I’m continuing the trend of sharing goals I had, but didn’t dare to discuss before – money. This year I set out to lower my mortgage from six to five figures. It wasn’t an impossible goal to begin with, but after reading the Mr Money Mustache blog, I got some extra motivation and completed the goal this summer. That was quite satisfying, so I decided to go bigger with the goal of being mortgage-free within five years.

If you a wondering how any of this is possible at all for junior faculty, this is in large part due to being an employee as a PhD student. I didn’t want to share this goal before because it feels weird to write about being in this privileged position, when there are so many researchers with financial problems. But at the same time I feel like I have to share my experiences to show that it’s possible. If you are interested in more details, I’d be happy to share – just leave a comment or get in touch.

My goals for 2017: progress report 2 of 4

I just realized it’s the middle of June, so it’s almost the end of the second quarter of 2017. This means it’s time for another quarterly review of my goals for 2017. You can find the first quarter review here.

Start my new job

Perhaps a better way to name this goal would be “develop a system for working in my new job”. The system I wrote about last time, with Current/Incubator and Snoozed projects, is definitely staying. Here’s how my Todoist list of project now looks like:

Incubator lists are “later” lists, with new projects that I have not started yet (but am going to once I finish something else). Current lists are projects I should be working on every week, so I’m not allowed to have too many projects here. Snoozed projects are projects are started but don’t need action at the moment, such as papers under review, or administrative tasks that I have to do periodically.

I have a Work and Personal in each category. When I’m in the office or my home office, I have the work list open. I also now actively schedule tasks from the current list ahead, so they show up as items on my agenda. When it’s evening/weekend, I only have the personal list open. This is helping to get things like blogging done 🙂

 

Submit. All. The. Papers.

Last time I submitted two nearly-done our of the six total papers I wanted to submit, and had four not-done papers left.  I had also forgotten which exact papers are these four papers I wanted to submit. I remembered it briefly, but since I didn’t write it down in the blog post, I forgot again.

To remember it this time, I count three more papers: a survey I’ve been thinking about for a while, a journal paper to follow-up on a paper from my PhD, and a journal paper to follow up on a recent crowdsourcing paper. I think given that only half a year is left of 2017, I will keep it at these three. I didn’t submit any of these remaining papers, but am finally making some progress on one of them!

Progress has been slower because I already had to resubmit one of the two initial papers, as well as do a bit of revisions for other (not first author) papers which I wasn’t counting here.

 

I give myself a 6/10 for this one.

 

Write a blog post every week

Still going well, which is motivating me only further to keep it up!

I still am struggling with what the main topics are that are best for me to write about. So for this, I set up a 5 minute survey for the blog readers! Please help me make this blog better by filling it out here.

 

Organize how I read papers

The system I described with using Evernote (each paper has its own note) is helping a lot. I have an inbox with papers I want to read. From here papers go into a physical inbox when I print them out. I read the papers when I’m on the train, and enter a summary into Evernote. I then move the Evernote note to a Reference folder.

I still would like to set a goal of how many papers I read a week, because although I’m reading papers, the inboxes are getting fuller rather than emptier. Maybe a 7/10?

 

Read at least 1 book per month

Done! I read “On writing well”, “Writing down the bones” and “What the best college teachers do”.  After all this productive reading I’m now reading some fiction, “Reamde” by Neal Stephenson.

More goals

Last time I already felt like I was playing in “Easy” mode by only sharing a few goals. Inspired by Raghav’s post about habits and running, (with what to me are very impressive 5K times) I decided to share another personal goal and how it developed over the year.

I like the idea of running and am always impressed by people who are really into it (i.e. do it regularly and/or maybe even enjoy it). I’ve had some brief periods of running in the past but these were a bit like my previous blogging attempts, so, not very effective. Since I was more confident about my blogging than about my running, I didn’t have any goal that this year I will start running “for real”. Instead, I just decided to walk 10K steps a day.

This wasn’t a major challenge, but just something I had to remember to do, so I started tracking my steps in Habitica. If I wasn’t yet at 10K, I would sometimes go outside for half an hour and listen to a podcast episode. Of course I’ve had a few days when I wasn’t anywhere near 10K, but my weekly average is always above this number.

Since this walking goal was going quite well, a few months into 2017 I thought about running again. But this time I had to have a quantifiable goal – I would go for a round around the park (maybe 3 km, so nothing impressive) 3 times a week. No time, no distance  – just showing up. For the first time ever I also made a spreadsheet where I log my runs, and added “Go for a run” to my agenda.

It’s been 7 weeks since then and although I don’t always go on the days that I plan to, I did complete the goal every week. Running feels less terrible and now my plan is to do an extra lap when I run during the weekend. Maybe I’ll even sign up for a 10K later this year? Find out in the next progress report 🙂

My goals for 2017: progress report 1 of 4

It’s almost the end of March, so we’re a quarter into 2017! Inspired by several productivity podcasts I’ve been listening to, I thought I’d spend this blog post doing a quarterly review of my goals for 2017.

Start my new job

As I said before, “start my new job” isn’t a very quantifiable goal, but I think I did it 🙂 Now that the “logistics” (email account, office, laptop etc) are mostly done, I’m focusing on developing a system with a lot more planning, goal-setting and evaluating than I’ve ever done.

One part of the system is to have three types of projects, similar to the Kanban system (Wikipedia).

  • Current, with current projects. There cannot be too many projects here at the same time. Every day I try to move along one or more of these projects.
  • Incubator, with projects that are coming up. These are concrete projects I know I will do, not “maybe” ideas – I keep those off my todo list to avoid getting distracted. To “hatch” an incubator project, I first need to finish a current project.
  • Snoozed, with projects that are started, but I don’t need to take action on right now, such as a paper under review.

I’m still optimizing this process, but I hope to blog about it at some point.

Submit. All. The. Papers.

My goal was to submit six papers – two which were almost done and four which I started. I’m happy to report that I’ve submitted the two nearly-done ones! They are now also on arXiV, here and here.
I expect that I will need to revise these after review, but for now, they are in my “Snoozed” project folder and I can work on the other papers.

The bad news is that, I spent two months (January was officially a month off for me) submitting two nearly-done papers. This means I have a bit over two months for each of the not-nearly-done papers, so this goal is looking too ambitious at the moment.

A complicating factor is that of the not-nearly-done papers, I’m having trouble deciding which one I will work on next. Ironically, when I sat down to write this post, I could not remember which four not-nearly-done papers I meant – meaning there are a few other “maybe” papers in the back of my mind.

I AM aware of the problem and I have my Current/Incubator/Snoozed folders to remind me what I should be focusing on. It doesn’t always work, so it’s something to keep track of in the rest of 2017 as well.

 

Write a blog post every week

This is going well! Given my relationship with blogging, I have to say I’m proud of sticking to this goal. The accountability of setting that goal publicly and the responses I get via Twitter have definitely been very motivating for me. And it’s been helpful to see it as a non-negotiable habit and to have a list/schedule of future blog posts.

I do have to confess it’s been a bit easier since I started the How I Fail series, and I haven’t actually been writing my own posts every week. But given how well the How I Fail posts are doing, maybe that’s not a bad thing 🙂

 

Organize how I read papers

Not a lot of progress on this one. I did create a system, which I hope will prove to be useful. Given how helpful Evernote has been, I decided to try it organize reading papers in Evernote as well.

Each paper is a note, which has the PDF and my own text notes in one place. I have two notebooks: Literature Inbox and Literature Reference. I spent several hours getting all the papers that I’ve saved somewhere on my hard drive, or printed out, into the inbox.

I’m only allowed to move a paper to Literature Reference once I’ve processed it. This means making notes (in the same Evernote note), tagging the note with “cite in paper X”,  adding the bibtex to Jabref, where I keep the bibliographic information, and renaming the note to its bibtex key. It’s not a 100% automatic process, but I’m getting more out of this system than out of Mendeley or Zotero.

I haven’t made a lot of progress actually going through the Inbox and moving the papers to Reference, so making this a habit is something to work on in the other three quarters of 2017.

 

Read at least 1 book per month

Done! I read “Flow”, “The No Asshole Rule”, “Advice for New Faculty Members” and “At the Helm”

Advice for New Faculty Members (can’t get the image to work?)

The last two books are both for new assistant professors. I wanted to read these ASAP, to make the most of the advice. Although I’m not 100% happy with either of these, they are both helpful and the advice in them is complementary. But I probably would not recommend reading the books cover-to-cover, and using a more selective, as-needed approach.

 

Conclusion

Based on this review, things are looking pretty good! I think this is in part due to posting my goals online, both because of the accountability, and the fact that I shared only a few of my own goals, which I felt reasonably confident (and not embarrassed) about. Next year I might increase the level of difficulty.

In any case, I am enjoying this process and writing about it, so I’m looking forward to writing more progress reports to reflect on my goals for 2017!

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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