Getting into gear

Have I mentioned that the first six months of this year is HUGE in terms of my PhD?? I haven’t? Well, let me tell you now: it is HUGE HUGE HUGE!!!! (with sincere apologies to anyone who feels a kitten dies every time excessive exclamation marks and capitals are used).

I feel like I’ve spent the first 6 months of my PhD in idle. I don’t know if that is ‘normal’ or at least common. I recognise this is partly due to the way I work – I like to get the lay of the land before plunging into it. So generally (I’m hoping) this has been a great thing. But in the last few months I have started to think of myself as being stuck and not doing ‘enough’.

That’s not to say that I’ve been doing nothing – major achievements include a draft of a troublesome systematic review, attendance at a conference, much reading, and a few excellent stats courses to boot (oh and blogging counts, right?!). Perhaps most importantly I’ve needed time to get comfortable in this new PhD skin – the topic, the major ideas and work so far etc.

Having revised my project plan last week, it is now time for me to release the handbrake, gun the engines and shift into gear – third gear seems entirely reasonable and doable. I have confirmation in less than six months. In itself this is no small task – a 10,000 word proposal (with fleshed out literature review, methodology and plan) and a 20 minute presentation to my academic advisory committee.  In the immediate term I will be attending and presenting at the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre Connect 2014 conference (very awesome) and attending a one week ASCPRI Fundamentals of Statistics course. Oh and hoping to take a day or two off sometime too.

So jump in to the passenger seat – there’s room for everyone!


Three little/big words

I’m not someone who sets grandiose new year’s resolutions, but I do like using the new year period as a time for general (if vague) reflection and restocking. This blog post resonated with and inspired me (which come to think of it is relatively rare experience from blog reading given the number of blogs I read). Basically it suggests coming up with three words that you use to set goals and keep focused throughout the year. It got me thinking about what my three words might be – it’s surprisingly hard. I like the idea of having ‘touchstones’ or words that represent values, behaviours or characteristics that you integrate into everything you do. I also think the simplicity of the concept is a winner. I wonder if the three words could be different for different contexts – e.g. work, study, personal life.

For my PhD, my three words are:

Discipline: I have a strong tendency and habit of procrastinating, usually due to serious bouts of self-doubt and lack of confidence. And I don’t mean a rigid type of discipline that doesn’t adapt or isn’t flexible to new information or situations. My aim is to set daily, weekly and monthly achievable goals to ensure that I don’t get bogged down in feeling overwhelmed.

Passion: Unlike discipline, which I have to work hard to do, passion is something that generally comes easy to me. It’s also central in keeping me happy, appreciating joyful experiences, and driving productivity and creative thinking. However, it sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day slog.

Engage: Like passion, this is something that I thrive on. However, sometimes I need a nudge to get out of my comfort zone and engage. Engagement comes in many shapes and forms – being totally ‘present’, open and actively seeking new people, experiences and conversations.

What would your 3 words be?