Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goals, part 2: New Years Resolutions

In case you've been living under a hunk of granite, it's a new year. 2010 in fact. Also, a new decade commences. And most importantly for this publication, my graduate career starts in earnest. Some readers may recall quite clearly this juncture in their training; for others it may be a little foggier ;)

Fig 1: This guy has no idea what year it is.

2009 was a great year for me. I did a ton of cool shit, learned lots, set myself up here at BRU (although to be honest some important parts of that happened in 2008), moved (again), traveled, and generally had a good time. I'll feel lucky if 2010 is nearly as awesome.

By this time next year, I'll necessarily have completed a few things: chosen a committee (stay tuned for more on this, probably), survived a couple of committee meetings, completed some course requirements, given a few presentations (at lab meeting, journal club, to fellow students. Not the full department though, that'll be in 2011). Late in the year I'll be submitting a fellowship application. These will all happen no matter what. (by the way, I'm not sure how my department compares with most in terms of how structured the graduate program is, so this may be kind of odd or totally normal) Of course how well all of this goes depends on me, but it will all occur one way or another. More interesting are the things I have control over:

My next big goal is to publish a first author paper. I was lucky enough to have some great research experiences during undergrad and supervisors that were (IMHO) pretty generous with authorship, but at this point what really matters is to be Number One. Unfortunately, there's no way this is happening this year, so this paragraph shouldn't really be in this post at all. But there it is.

So what about this year, then?

Well, things get a little more nebulous. I'm trying to plan out my project and decide which of several possible side projects I should try. (by the way: any tips on project management/etc for science/grad students are gratefully welcomed since I have never done anything this big or long-term before, and this project is a doozy--I need all the help I can get). So there are some project-specific goals, but they're kind of boring, and my plan will almost certainly be out the window by March. But I'm making it anyway, because I think it helps.

Also work-related: I want to improve my organization skills, especially as regards my lab book. I'm not the most organized person by nature, and although I've made progress here, in 2010 I'd like to really keep a tidy lab book.

There are some personal things I'd like to do as well. Healthwise, I don't smoke and my diet is pretty good (and I'm lucky enough not to have much weight to lose, other than a few holiday-related pounds....ahem). That's the good news. But I get next to no exercise, other than walking to get around which I do a lot and the summertime. I want to get over my fear of the gym and actually GTFin there. Once. At least. Baby steps, OK? As well, I haven't been to see the doctor/dentist in ages, and I really should. Insurance isn't a problem, but I'm in a new city and have to find someone to go to. I also need new glasses, and I suspect my vision is continuing to worsen so my prescription probably needs an update. So those are 3 things I want to do in 2010.

I also want to cross a couple things off my todo list for my apartment. Having a comfortable environment at home is important to me. I did a few things when I first moved in (and had more time...) but it needs work still.

Finally, I'm setting a date--probably April/May--to revisit these goals and others, and take stock again. I've never been much of a yearly resolution person anyway, I much prefer the 4-month school term as a yardstick, and I see no reason not to continue this way even though I'm no longer in classes. Now I need to get off Blogger and back to doing real work.

So here's wishing you a happy 2010, with lots of hot science, cool people, peaceful days, long nights at the pub, puppies, kittens, love and friendship, and kickass data.

1 comment:

  1. My next big goal is to publish a first author paper.
    This is an important goal but don't get hung up on it immediately. Focus on your project, and it will come.

    any tips on project management/etc
    Project management in research requires a balance between structure and flexibility. I keep a list of ongoing projects and the major things that need to be done on them. I plan out actual experiments a week or two at a time, see where I stand, then make adjustments as necessary.

    You mentioned that you'll be applying for a fellowship. Assuming that it is research based, I would suggest thinking about the specific aims for the proposal and what preliminary data (if any) will be necessary for a competitive application. Then start gathering that data now. This will give you time to reevaluate specific aims or repeat experiments as necessary.