So…I know what 2011 was all about: upheaval, difficulty but also eternal hope. What is 2012 going to be about? Well, I reckon much of the same, at least from the perspective of January.
Most importantly, it is going to be the Transition Year from my internship to postgraduate study (or the Real World, if things go terribly wrong). Which means that I have a year to get things Sorted. To tie up loose ends. To lay foundations. To do crazy & exciting stuff I won’t necessarily have the time/resources to do later. To see how far along the road I can get myself towards becoming a fully-functioning professional scientist. I have something of a time limit: time goes by so damn quickly I need to ensure I don’t let it pass me by and cut off my opportunities, right?
Ahh…so this is where New Years Resolutions (NYRs) may come in handy.
Chris Marr put it rather snappily in comparing NYRs to Business Plans: a Committee would never draft up a vague agenda statement like “Be Greener”, they’d come up with specifics and ‘review dates’…and they wouldn’t just bin their goals at the first sign they weren’t working out.
This year I’ve come up with a novel approach (for me at least): Flowchart NYRs. To achieve a major target I have to build up through smaller ones prior. This structures how each NYR is going to pan out, and should keep me more aware of time passing/where I am in terms of progress.
- Get my ML UK (Summer) Award. Well, where I’m standing now I’m still a bit short on the “Quality Mountain Days”; my backlog of experience hiking and/or leading groups. Step I. Get new technical hiking gear for the bits I lack. I can get those minus VAT in Lorrach (Germany). Deadline – January. Step II. Go out on trips with the Zurich Hiking & Outdoors Meetup Group between now and July; take part in at least one DoE Expedition from Madras. Step III. Take the assessment course in late summer.
- Obtain Conversational-level German. Well, if it’s Conversational German I’m after…I need conversation partners. I then need to meet these partners regularly enough to get my spoken Deutsch a bit more confident. This will be supplemented by DVDs, newspapers, radio, books. I don’t have to give up once I leave Switzerland, especially if I want to keep the “professional development” slant open.
- Filling in CV loose ends/blanks. Something I noticed when filling out an application form: although I love my voluntary work and have done a lot of it in the past…I’m hard-pressed to find anything more recent to talk about. Now I don’t have to fret so much about the degree I really should get back into it. I can sort out my 2012 Membership to various societies quite quickly: Basel Dragons, Royal Society of Chemistry, etc. Then I can start getting more involved in them and see where it takes me. Perhaps I’ll find an exciting volunteering scientific education program through the RSC; maybe I can help out at a local race.
- Professional Development. I need to have a long hard think about my professional skills set: my strengths & “areas for improvement”. Then I need to start working on them. If I have strengths, can I showcase them in some way (e.g., if I’m good at public speaking, can I find an opportunity to present my research)? If I have weaknesses, what do I want to do about them: ignore, work around or nullify? How far do I want to take combating my weaknesses (e.g., if I think my chemistry knowledge in a particular field is weak, should I look at taking some extra learning modules)?
- Culture & Enrichment. I’ve set myself some monthly targets: write a piece of fiction, make a charity donation, travel to a new city. These are the “non-binding” NYR: I’ll simply score myself out of 12 next December and see how I got on.
With a personal blog I don’t have any excuse not to follow through with things. By the end of Janaury I’ll have covered most of the NYRs in more detail: providing some background, giving updates and outlines.
Fingers crossed I hold myself to account. As best as I can, at least.