Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s ProfHacker post about New (Academic) Year’s Resolutions prompted me to think about how I see the kind of goal setting that prompted this blog and other strategies I’m using while I’m on sabbatical this fall. In her post, Fitzpatrick noted how the beginning of the academic year has parallels to the beginning of the calendar year. She outlined three simple resolutions for exercise, diet, and caffeine consumption that she hopes to make part of her routine to support her writing life during sabbatical and beyond.
Like Fitzpatrick, I use moments like the beginning of the academic year for “resolutions.” Since I tend to view my scholarship more in terms of failures than of successes, I am trying to shift my perspective during this sabbatical. My goal is to learn to see beginnings more as recurring opportunities for assessment and adjustment than as some kind of new way to judge my failures to live up to unreasonable ideals.
Since I started this whole academic life with studying nineteenth-century intentional communities and have done a lot of reading in feminism and utopia, I try to see both research and teaching as more about process than about blueprints and results. Perhaps ironically, I am having some success using a blueprint in the form of Wendy Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks. At week seven, I find myself a bit behind on the work, and this post marks an effort to try something different as beginning of the day writing to build momentum.
Belcher provides a kind of syllabus for productivity that works as a nice parallel to Fitzpatrick’s notion about the beginning of the semester. Each Monday, of course, begins a new week, and each week starts with an opportunity to look back, celebrate the successes that come with having made it thus far, and then plan for the week ahead. Thus Belcher’s workbook makes seemingly obvious facts like Monday’s place at the beginning of the week into conscious moments to make concrete the kinds of opportunities for assessment and adjustment that we associate culturally with the resolutions that some of us make on January 1.