For a topic this week, I’m cribbing from Dr Isis: “A friend just gave me a new framework for ways of comparing things: normative, ipsative and aspirational. So think about reaching a goal, say training for a marathon.  Normative – how do I compare to others around me with whom I train: are they getting better faster than me? Ipsative – how do I compare to where I was: am I running at a consistently faster pace than a month ago? Aspirational – how do I compare to where I want to be – can I run 20 miles without puking?”

Does one of those methods work better for you than the others?  Or do you use different ones depending on what stage of a project you’re at, or what sort of task you’re doing?

Amstr: 1) finish Ch. 2 draft (hand off to reader on Tues), 2) finish 2 books on hand, 3) clean off desk and photocopy lots, 4) type changes, fix footnotes, and reverse outline Ch. 3.
Another Postdoc: 2500 words on the intro and lit review.
Bavardess: 2500 words on the intro and lit review.
cly: get back to my project.
Comrade PhysioProf: I really am gonna write the Specific Aims page on Monday. I SWEAR!!!
Contingent Cassandra: Do DH application (by 10/1 deadline); do a freelance piece due Friday; figure out exactly what I need to do for P project presentation and finish handouts in time for copying .
Dame Eleanor Hull: get closer to two hours/day of research; send a draft of the revised proposal to recommenders and to someone else who offered to read it. See if I can move forward with the MMP and translation project, as well.
Dr. Virago: Do some serious writing and thinking about my two writing projects. 1) 250 words on the invited article and 2) some background reading for the review essay.
Elizabeth Anne Mitchell: Next two weeks goals: (I will not be able to check in next weekend, as I will not have internet until I get home late Sunday night) Take good notes and figure out the further questions that can be answered when I am back home.
emmawriting:  LOI collaborators identified, summary drafted. Review letter outlined, referees identified. Results of Study 1 (Short Paper) written. One new study started. Another new study prepared. RAs reviewed. Email delayed.
Erinys:  30 minutes/day for 5 days. 1 research trip to the library.
GEW: 15 minutes per day, six day of the week, for a total of 1.5 hours. In addition, I’d like to do a bit of extra reading or database searchers.
highly eccentric: Write Things on both Monday and Friday.
historisusan: keep reading.
humming42: Excused absence.
JaneB: 1) review the status and make a work-plan for the few-author paper (goal b), with permission to have the plan start in November if necessary! 2) sort out travel plans for the paper I’m giving in October, 3) chip away at the analyses for that paper October, 4) make decision about focus for the big grant application.
JLiedl: 2000 words on the keynote.
jmmcswee: no check-in.
John Spence: Index 20 pages.
kiwi2: 1.Final rewrite of Paper X before sending to a senior co-author this week.  2.Work for at least 2 hours on the analysis for Paper Z. Including emailing for help if I need to.
kiwimedievalist: work on reading for my book.
Kris: just read one chapter out of the book I have sitting on my desk, unopened.
luolin88: 1/2 hour Monday and Friday.
Matilda: finish reading the first part of the material/ finish reading the starting-point book/ write 15 minutes a day.
meansomething: 1) Aside from obtaining a necessary source just discovered, let the lyric essay have a rest week while I focus my prose energies on a residency application. 2) Four 12-minute sessions on the poem sequence.
metheist: 1000 words.
Notorious Ph.D.: 90 minutes of work a day, split between reading and taking notes-and-musings on the readings.
nwgirl: 1 hour/TD and 4-5 hours/NTD finishing the revisions to the AB/J section, finishing the library book that came in, and deciding what remains to be done to chapter 1.
Pika: have to finish this over the weekend, to have the rest of the week for polishing and finishing part 1.
Pilgrim/Heretic: MORE GLOW.
Premodern: 45 minutes of writing every day (again), with more substantive chunks on non-teaching days. By the end of this week, I hope to have some sort of 10-page draft.
rented life: Write twice, (or contine with part I was expanding), keep reading books T & D.
Salimata: 20 to 30 minutes on the paper on Mon, Tue, Wed, and Fri; working on the argument section in Belcher, and after that, the secondary lit section.
Sapience: rewrite presentation. Pass my defense.
Sisyphus: a) make a list of small tasks that still need to be done! b) set aside at least 30 minutes every day to chip away at the small tasks! or c) actually revise my prose for that 30 minutes if I have the energy! If not, I have to at least reread the passage I am revising again, so that I don’t forget everything I am planning to do.
sophylou: get some previous writing typed up and organized.
tracynicholrose: Draft narrative for LM talk; write internal grant; finish edits on P&P paper.
Trapped in Canadia: review sources for conference paper, write a whopping 400 words for that paper, write two tests for my classes, and finish that annoying book review.
Undine (Not of General Interest): Another conference paper to finish; work on reviewing project.
What Now?: 1) finish working through the primary sources; 2) finish reading a secondary source; 3) take a stab at the first section I’m going to tackle.
Widgeon: Finish revisions of conference paper really and truly. Start going through digital images of primary sources collected in June.
Z (Mictlantecuhtli/Profacero): 6-7 research blocks, ideally of 2-3 hours each, less if necessary, point is to work daily or near daily. I will in this time: reorganize books and files to get all book materials around me, start storyboarding.

133 thoughts on “Sept-Dec 2012 Writing Group, Week 6 Check-In

  1. Goal: just one chapter read and noted.
    Achieved: yes, but that’s all I achieved on the project.
    Comments: teaching, marking, supervision and admin just keep eating up all my time. Sometimes it’s not about working more efficiently – sometimes there’s just too much work to do. I can see the end in sight – sadly the end comes after the submission date of this paper I’m working on. It’s going to be an intense couple of weeks.
    Next week: I’m going to be ambitious and say two articles read and noted for the paper and some sense of the structure and argument.

    I’m aspirational in my point of comparison. I don’t think this is a particularly healthy way of being for me as my aspirations are always too ambitious for the time and resources I have. I end up whipping myself to achieve difficult goals. There’s a little bit of normative in there: I want to know I’m doing more and better than comparable others. No ispative at all ever – I don’t think I have ever in my life congratulated myself for having come so far.

    1. Well–you should take a moment to congratulate yourself! There’s a lot to be celebrated in a working and writing life.

  2. Goals for last week: Rewrite presentation. Pass my defense.

    Achieved: PhD!

    Analysis: Well, there was a lot of (unnecessary) pre-defense panicking over the presentation, but the defense went really really well. I got a lot of compliments on the presentation, the dissertation, and even the defense itself. Turns out I really did know my stuff better than anyone else in the room. =D There are a few minor typos and corrections I need to make before I turn in the final document, but not any major revisions, which is a huge relief.

    Goal for next week: First round of job applications.

    I’m very much motivated by aspiration. But my brain is so fried at this point, I can’t be more articulate than that…

    1. Hurrah! Congratulations!!! You not only finished, but you finished well, and with full recognition of your success! That’s great (and the fried brain is totally normal).

    2. Congratulations! I’m glad everything went well — and savor the moment when you knew more than anyone else. It’s just about the last time ever…

    3. Congrats!!! Totally jealous of course, but congrats on achieving that goal. What a sigh of relief 🙂

  3. MORE GLOW: achieved! Behold, again, the radiant brow. (I really wanted to honor Dr. Virago by rewriting a few verses of Taliesin, but just didn’t have it in me.)

    More specifically, my goal was 2,000 words, or to beat my previous week’s achievement of 2,036, and I came up with 2,161.

    Analysis (which also dovetails neatly with the question about methods): Amstr’s comment last week about trying to up my productivity without creating unreachable goals was pure genius. And ipsative! My goal is still 2,000 words a week, but if I can write each week a little more than I did last week, that’s extra satisfying.

    I apologize if this comes across as irritatingly cheerful – but another thing I’ve learned from this group came from JaneB a couple of weeks ago, when she mentioned thinking of writing as a treat. I’m trying to make my self-talk about writing more positive, and trying to fix in my head the most positive moments rather than the most frustrating ones. Parts of this process really have been fun and satisfying, and I really need to remember that.

    Next week’s goal: at least 2,162 words, and glow maintenance.

    1. Love it. I honestly want to add GLOW as a goal because I got such a kick out of scrolling down the goal list and seeing “MORE GLOW” 🙂 I know what you are saying–my last couple writing sessions have been so great, so I’m trying to keep that in my head.

      1. I love the GLOW, too. I’m feeling it as well this week, which was simply one of those weeks one treasures in one’s heart through the dross of sleepy students, badly-written papers, and cranky chairs. 🙂

    2. Your posts are not irritating to me at all! I too have been trying to cultivate a more positive relationship to writing and I’m glad I’m not the only one. So please bask in your glow!

    3. I think my comment last week only shows that I’ve been spending way to much time avoiding work by playing Brave Temple Run on my phone. 🙂 But I’m glad it’s working for you!

      The glow looks good on you.

    4. I think we’re all in on glow here. As it should be! I spent the summer reorienting my standing negativity, and am happy as a result. And I love the idea of writing as a treat. will work on that.

    5. I love the GLOW as well. I want to glow. A positive attitude does go a long way. I missed JaneB’s comment so thanks for repeating it here. Your week is inspiring me!!!

      1. I have it also and I am not even getting that much done — just not getting totally off base. It is great!!! I love the writing group!!!

  4. I’m not sure I’ve every thought of my goals in either of those. I did worry about how I compared to others–what is a writer supposed to be doing–and reading how others get their inspiration made me feel better about how I process things. But that was more of the how to achieve the goals, not the goals themselves.

    Last week’s goal: Write twice, (or contine with part I was expanding), keep reading books T & D.

    Accomplished: Wrote twice, for two very decent chunks of time! Finished book T last night.

    Analysis: I was so happy to write as much as I did given other weekly events. I’m trying to use that maintain momentum. Reading works better when I given in and allow myself to stay up late–my preferred reading/writing time. My sleeping in allows husband to get a little of his own reading time in and then when we’re both awake/home we can spend time together without feeling like we’re not getting alone time we need…we’re not perfect at this but we’re working on it.

    New goal: Write/edit/expand: three times this week. Continue reading book D. Any additional research/writing is bonus.

    1. shoot, can I add to my goal? Work on getting comfortable audio recording my thoughts when I can record but can’t physically write ideas.

  5. Goal: finish conference paper; begin reviewing project.

    Achieved: I can’t remember WHICH due-immediately conference paper I was supposed to finish (it’s been that kind of week), but I think I finished the one I wanted to finish. I began the reviewing project.

    And I have faithfully been writing every day, though not always on the chapter I want to write.

    Next week’s goal: write minor presentation; finish 2 reviewing projects. Finish conference paper.

    And write something, even if it’s only research notes, on the major project every day. If I get through those, I’ll be happy.

    1. That sounds like a familiar sort of week. Progress is progress, even if not always on the “right” project, and it sounds like whatever system you’ve got, conscious or not, for letting the most appropriate and/or urgent projects catch your attention is working pretty well.

  6. Achieved: two half-blocks. In those half-blocks: started looking at issues at hand, realized how complicated is, thought I was poorly read, *but* the only way to handle all of this organization is to just start writing.

    Commentary: this week and the next two are short weeks for travel reasons, and there are other things to be resolved. I get an A+ on resolving things to be resolved this week. Hoping for an A+ in the next two.
    What is good: not having gotten discouraged about anything and not having stopped at least touching my work.

    Goal for this week and next is greatly reduced: two blocks of 1-1/2 hours each, each week, more if available, put computer files of this project in organized place, keep touching work, keep *good* control of all else so as to start the week beginning Monday, 10-22, in position to really put best time into writing, going for 15-18 total hours of research and writing per week.

    Marathon goal: I do not know how I fit, I think aspirational, my goal is to be in my stride. At my stride means having these blocks in the center of the days and not squeezing them in at odd hours. Being able to see the project instead of wander around in it.

  7. Goal: 1/2 hour Monday and Friday

    Accomplished: Nada

    Analysis: OBE. My momentum and self-discipline were so fragile that getting sick over the weekend threw off my whole week, and not just the writing. I missed my yoga class, two out of three normal running days, and I feel like I’ve been late for everything since Wednesday, although I thought I was feeling fine by then. I went to campus two days that I normally don’t commute (make-up exam one day, meetings today), stayed home sick on one of my teaching days, and spent a couple of hours on Wed. volunteering at my son’s school’s book fair.

    I’m checking in now to make sure I get something posted. I want to think more about the question Dame Eleanor posed this week, but don’t know if I’ll get back online in time to post about it.

    Goal for next week:
    1/2 hour Monday and Friday.

    1. When routines break down, for whatever reason, it’s hard to do the things you normally do in routine fashion. Being sick is a good reason to break routine, stay home, look after yourself. I hope you feel better and can get back to normal this week.

    2. Sounds like you took some time you needed. I suspect that will pay off in the long run, in a successful return to a productive routine, or just in minimizing the damage of the interruption.

  8. Last week: finish part 2 over the weekend. Finish and polish part 1 during the rest of the week.

    Accomplished: part 2 done. Part 1 missing 2 pages (CV sketch), but almost there.

    Analysis: Went ok-ish, but spent way more time than planned by shortening the 16 page part 2 into extended summary (6 pages) in part 1, which has to be good enough by itself to let the grant be scored high enough to go into step 2 and only there part 2 will be read. I thought I’d manage to shorten this in a day or two. Ha!! Yeah, right! Talk about severe underestimation – almost the whole week went into cutting and checking the length and cutting some more. But now it’s finally *done*. All that remains to write are 2 pages where I vax lyric about how I’m the best (which I find uncomfortable, but it has to be done…).

    Next week: this weekend finish the CV sketch, then I am taking some time out, as I am travelling all week next week. The week after: proofread, re-edit, finalise and submit (deadline is at the end of that week).

    I’m mostly aspirational in that I decide where I would like to be at a certain time and then work towards that. Although some of that is also motivated by external factors, e.g. grant deadlines, conference submission deadlines, PhD funding expiration date for my students (so I have to make sure they are on timely track to submit by the end of funding), etc.

    1. I need to take your example and remember that a grant LOI will take longer than it looks, even if I get the full project planned out! Thanks for the needed reminder…!!!

  9. Goal: Finish revisions of conference paper really and truly. Start going through digital images of primary sources collected in June.
    Accomplished: Conference paper has been sent off to commentator. It will require more shortening and a power point before the actual conference. I did some secondary reading, but failed to get back to primary sources.
    Analysis: The semester is in full swing, and the grading has begun in earnest. This is the point in the semester that I often give up on research/writing, except for stuff I absolutely have to do. That is the pattern I am trying to break.
    Goal: Two full days of research (taking notes, compiling ideas). And two additional days of a short block of research, at least 30 minutes.

    Turns out I’m Ipsative, always thinking about my past performances and comparing myself to them. I think I need a little aspirational thrown in to speed up my game.

      1. Sounds like something I shall put on a Post-It and stick to my laptop screen, with full attribution, of course.

  10. I didn’t think I would have internet to check in, but I’ve found some coffee shops with wifi, so here I am.

    Last week’s goal: Take good notes.

    Accomplished: Done. I spent 20 hours at the Morgan Library this week, taking notes on the O article, and researching shiny new ideas while waiting for materials to show up, as one early printed book was being repaired when I arrived.

    I have everything I need for the O article. I found one new piece of evidence for the MF article I’m reworking, came away with a short bibliography for the new CFB article, and solved a bibliographical mystery that has been haunting me for fifteen years. It was a wonderful week.

    Analysis: I love doing this sort of research; I do it well in situations like this, where there are few pulls from life. I immersed myself in the thrill of the chase, forgetting to eat lunch one day, and always being the last researcher pushed politely out the door at the end of the day.

    Goal for next week: Spend seven hours filling holes in article O, in whatever configuration works.

    I’ve never used ipsative goals, probably because I tend to twist both normative and aspirational goals to be punitive: the old “this colleague writes an article every time she sneezes, why can’t I?” or “I’ll have a husband, 2.4 kids, and a Ph.D. by the time I’m 30.”

    I do use different types in different circumstances. I use normative goals in a positive way when comparing myself to my tenure cohort, for example. I use positive aspirational goals in plotting my next five years of career. I think ipsative goals sound wonderful, especially how they could be used in conjunction with a reward system.

    1. Sounds wonderful! I’m glad you had such a great week. Solving the 15-year-old mystery sounds especially satisfying.

      Archives trips are an interesting phenomenon: incredibly intense, and so exhausting, but also refreshing in their intense, single-minded focus. I, too, love them.

    2. I like what you say about using the types of comparison in destructive vs. constructive ways. And the library work sounds fascinating!

    3. Thanks, all. I should add that the staff and curators at the Morgan are helpful and pleasant; the reading room is lovely to work in, but chilly at times, and the illuminated manuscripts breathtaking.

  11. Goal? 2000 words on the keynote

    Achieved? 175 words. Eep?

    Analysis: OBE in a big way. To use your marathon simile, I ran off the course this week. Big parenting problem, mini-emotional breakdown due to stress from the same and everything else, so booked up on my teaching days that I neither use the facilities nor eat. Unsustainable patterns need to be revised.

    Next week: finish the keynote

    Marathon goals? I’m ipsative. Always got to be faster or at least as fast or it’s no damned good. Now, onwards to a weekend sidetracked from writing as it’s devoted to Canadian Thanksgiving and editorial tasks. Dangit!

    1. I keep finding that when I drop all the plates and they smash, nothing horrible actually happens. Maybe I’m just not at a high enough pay grade to incur the horrible, but I’d say enjoy Thanksgiving and wait till after the weekend to pick up the pieces and recalibrate.

    2. Dropping the plates can sometimes even be a relief. Parenting problems are worse I find- emotionally draining.

    3. Sorry to hear about the Events of the past week. I hope that Thanksgiving is soothing (rather than the obverse, which is sometimes my experience) and that life runs more easily next week.

  12. Goals: LOI collaborators identified, summary drafted. Review letter outlined, referees identified. Results of Study 1 (Short Paper) written. One new study started. Another new study prepared. RAs reviewed. Email delayed.

    Achieved: Progress made on LOI, review letter, and results; one new study started & finished; another new study prepared as far as it can go; RAs reviewed; Email delayed a bit but could be better.

    Achieved instead: Had a re-evaluation of Things That Must Get Done and switched to trying to quickly draft up a different short paper. That one is, I think, going well, especially with a “good enough” goal.

    New goals: EOCP sent to collaborator. LOI fully rough drafted (deadline after weekend). MC5 fully prepped and sent to collaborator. Review letter 2nd section drafted if necessary. Results of Study 1 (Short Paper) written BADLY.

    Analysis: The almost-born baby keeps on scaring me into thinking she’ll be coming early, which puts me in Blind Panic mode, especially since I really can’t know when she will make her arrival. This forced me to re-think exactly what needs to be prioritized– though I still am having trouble not thinking in absolute “but EVERYTHING on this list is SO IMPORTANT” (actually, they really are, but even so there is some priority– e.g. one of the papers is the easiest way for me to be more secure that I will keep my job, which is a basic requirement, while the others will allow me to get grants, which is necessary but on the other hand could be delayed without TOTALLY killing my longer-term future in the way losing my job would be). However, the practical-and-possible-goals did really help this week, as did really trying to write “good enough” instead of “good.” In writing, I was surprised at how well a high-school-research-paper-like process worked: I made a basic outline, read the notecards I had written long before, wrote one-sentence summaries, and stuck those sentences into the outline; then did the same for the collection of newer articles I’d downloaded over the summer (thanks again to this writing group). It was quick and dirty and I just need to get the structure/flow down and I’ll be fine.

    The three-category framework is really interesting; ties into different research on motivation. I usually think in terms of promotion vs. prevention goals (e.g. “If I write this I will be able to get my grant!” vs. “If I don’t write this, I will lose my job”), upward vs. downward comparisons (“I’d like to be like XXX…. at least I’m not like YYY”), and ideal vs. actual self-concept… not sure what the research shows about which of these is best for motivation in general, but I do know that though I’m usually aiming at the former of each pair, it’s the latter of each pair that actually helps me get the work done. Wish it weren’t the case though!

  13. Hmm, I haven’t ever thought about working within frameworks. I’m not really sure that I use one consciously. I guess I try to be more aspirational than anything else. I’ve never really been able to tell when something is ‘good enough.’ I keep wanting to mess with my research findings until I’ve achieved perfection (even though that won’t happen and only causes me to look horribly unproductive).

    My colleagues work on such different topics that ‘normative’ doesn’t really apply.

    Speaking of failed aspirations, I’ve made shockingly little progress on my project. I had a computer disaster (grant application being mis-formatted and having to be re-written) and moved house (temporarily and unexpectedly). I am now exhausted.

    Since my ‘doing something’ goals seem to be going nowhere, my goal for this week is to write (not read, revise or research, but write) for 45 minutes each day.

      1. Thanks! I’m hoping this will be a better way of making progress. I seem to be wandering in circles ;/

  14. Goals: finish reading the first part of the material/ finish reading the starting-point book/ write 15 minutes a day.

    Achieved: I have been doing all, but not finished yet.

    Analysis: This has been a busy week with grading and preparing for the new topic. I knew that I would be busy, so I should have prepared for that, which I was not been able to. Therefore, I have decided to read some parts of the material seemingly important. I wanted to read all and think of them in the whole perspective, but since the time is not enough (my presentation is coming in the first week of November), I must plan more strategically.

    Next goal: finish reading materials/ revise outline of the presentation/ start writing the draft

  15. Goals: 1) finish working through the primary sources; 2) finish reading a secondary source; 3) take a stab at the first section I’m going to tackle.

    Accomplished: most of it! Re: #1, new primary source tidbits keep popping up, which is just the way of things, but at this point I feel on top of the source material. And I achieved #2 and #3. Yay!

    Analysis: I got up and wrote for at least half an hour before school every single weekday morning this week! I didn’t actually mean to, but I woke up crazy early on Monday and decided to get up and work, and then it felt so good for the rest of the day to have that accomplished that I deliberately did it again on Tuesday, and then before I knew it I’d done it every day! (And let’s bear in mind that I’m not really a morning person and that I have to be at school before 8:00 a.m. every day.) And now I have 1,744 words! Some of these are cobbled together from notes I’ve been taking for the last month (that is, they aren’t all “new” words), but that’s still pretty darned good considering that I just officially started writing this week! (I know I’m overusing exclamation points here, but I’m really excited about all of this.) I’d love to keep this pattern going next week, although I want to keep my goals realistic since I’m getting slammed with grading on Tuesday.

    Next week: Write at least three days (ideally before school), and aim for another 1,000 words.

  16. Last week’s goal: 1 hour/TD and 4-5 hours/NTD finishing the revisions to the AB/J section, finishing the library book that came in, and deciding what remains to be done to chapter 1.

    Accomplished: All of it.

    Analysis: I feel like I’ve turned a corner with this chapter. I need revise and re-work the EH section and the MS section. Some more revisions to polish the transitions. Then it’s time to move on to the next chapter that’s in need of revision, knowing of course that I’ll need to come back and fiddle with this a bit more as the rest of the revisions progress.

    Next goal: Tackle the EH section.

    I tend more toward the normative and the aspirational. I’m a planner so I am always looking at where I want to be and worrying that I’m not going to make it. There’s a fair amount of normative, too, especially in those dark “imposter” moments. How can I ever hope to compete with [insert name]?

    I would like to say I am ipsative, but I think that’s rather rare for me.

  17. Last week’s goals: 1) finish Ch. 2 draft (hand off to reader on Tues), 2) finish 2 books on hand, 3) clean off desk and photocopy lots, 4) type changes, fix footnotes, and reverse outline Ch. 3.

    Accomplished: 1) handed off partial draft on Tues. got extension, just sent off the rest of it; 2) I can’t even remember what books I meant. I did finish 1; 3) did the bare minimum; 4) not yet.

    Next week’s goals: 1) (optional) do a readthrough of edited article (if I get it), 2) work on Ch. 3 (type changes, fix fns, reverse outline, do 4 or 5 tasks from list), 3) tidy up Ch. 2 draft and send to writing partner, 4) prep for writing retreat (starts Fri)

    Commentary: Of course finishing the chapter draft consumed the entire week. I should have expected it, but this week it was good not to trade in my optimism for realism. I actually enjoyed being in writing-to-deadline mode. I got some good research done, and solidified my argument in good ways. In the next two weeks, I expect to get the two current chapter drafts I have off to my advisor, and then I’ll have only one left to go. That hope is definitely keeping me going.

    Notes on comparing: Honestly, I haven’t much thought about greater goals lately. I just want to be done with the dissertation. I’ve thought about comparisons mostly in parenting and how we’re teaching our kids (ages 5 and 7) to use it in healthy ways. Ipsative is definitely the most helpful for daily progress–swim team (beat your own time) and violin lessons (improvement from week to week) come to mind. I think I’m usually in this mode, especially since I’m far away (geographically) from any sort of academic community. Normative is useful mostly for seeing if there’s a problem. When my son was an infant, a few moms had the opportunity to recognized significant developmental issues because they were able to compare to a group. I find normative destructive if I’m making keeping up with the peer group the goal. Again, being out of the academic community, I keep away from the bad kind, but I also have less of an idea of where I am in healthy ways (e.g., if my CV/job app was next to someone else’s, I have little idea how I would stack up. This is where advisors come in handy.) Aspirational? My son’s greatest aspiration at the moment is to work at Target someday, so I haven’t seen much of it in action with the kids. I’m too tired to have aspirations. More seriously, my aspirations have shrunk to “finish the dissertation.” I’m sure as I come out of the hardest parts of finishing, I’ll be more likely to think in aspirational terms. These days, it’s the hope of the (small-scale) aspirational along with the ipsative that make daily progress possible.

    1. I always admire your practical but at the same time positive way of managing your life mothering and writing your dissertation. Finishing dissertation is, I think, probably not too ambitious but very important aspiration.

      1. I’ve spend many, many months in the mothering is hard/writing is hard/I’m not making any progress/if I don’t meet my goals I’ll cry again mode. And for many years I wanted to quit at least once a month. It definitely helps to be so close to the end.

    2. Congrats on finishing the chapter. Obviously, “finish the dissertation” is an important aspiration. The other stuff can come later, AFTER you’ve finished. I don’t think I’ve ever focused as fully as I did that last six months before defense. Everything was structured around “finish the [damn] dissertation.” I just couldn’t look beyond that. I felt like I was in this bizarre time warp / special effects / stop motion animation place for about six months. It was all about surviving that last hard push to the finish line. I am amazed at how much you accomplish, especially since you have young children. The aspirations will return.

      BTW – I love your son’s aspiration to work at Target. Wonder what inspired that – Target marketing, perhaps. My grandson went through a phase where he wanted to work in the “green factory” so he could have coffee in a thermos like his grandfather (who does not work in the “green factory” or any other factory). Now he wants to work in a children’s museum so he can play all day (he’s six).

      1. Thanks for your encouragement. I’m glad to know others have been through it. I don’t think I expected the last hard push to last six months.

        The Target aspirations come from living two blocks from Target; he’s really into the idea that he could get a big discount on Legos and Pokemon cards.

    3. It sounds like you’ve got good plans in place for wrapping some things up this week to prepare for the writing retreat this coming weekend. That’s another sort of deadline to write toward, isn’t it?

      Congrats on getting Ch. 2 all drafted!

      1. Thanks!

        Yes–I’ve actually held back from planning the weekend too much so I could see where I ended up at the start of the week. I’m definitely going to have to pace myself this week so I don’t burn out before Friday afternoon comes around, but it’s also a nice sort of deadline, since I won’t have a printer or wifi.

    4. I’ve actually worked at Target! The continual 10% discount was nice, but they aren’t so hot at recognized multiple years of service. (My student, who also worked there for a number of years, told me for 15 years they gave someone a pen.) They are very good about giving breaks, which I’m not able to say for the other hourly jobs I’ve had. I don’t think I had any career aspirations at ages 5 or 7.

      I think the aspirational thing changes with whereever you’re at. For awhile I tried to have “normal” aspirational goals but now that my goals have changesd, those around me don’t find them to be very great. But I’m happy with the smaller goals. Maybe it’ll change down the road and that’s fine too.

      Like Matilda, I really admire your practical positivity! 🙂

      1. I think the discount is his main goal. I’ve heard that Target has a really good management program as well.

  18. Well, in some ways, I met my goals: I read some articles. But this was catching up with journals (relevant stuff) and not really focused on the project.

    Really, the week has been a disaster. Like Janice, I got sidetracked by emotional stuff — though largely work related, not personal. A few colleagues were total jerks about something, and took up excessive time, and then there was an emotional hangover, and a day that got eaten up in helping my mother when her car was being serviced, a dr. apptment, etc. And I’ve been procrastinating big time on grading; alas, I have not engaged in productive procrastination (I think as a result of emotional hangover). I’m hoping to finish the grading by Monday, though in a pinch I’ll give myself Tuesday to finish. Must return by Wed. to meet my two week turn-around.

    As for myself, I think I’m mostly ipsative. I occasionally go normative, but my immediate environment features a bunch of people who publish every second thought, and I am (righteously?) superior to them…

    Goal for next week: read 3-4 more articles. I’ve also been trying to get back into exercise, and I think that may give me a disciplined structure taht will enable more reading and working on this project.

    Now, to grade.

    1. I’m sorry your week got hijacked. I hope next week is a better one. Exercise sounds like a great way to get back into writing routines. (It always helps me.)

    2. Hate when those weeks happen. Getting out and going for a long walk helps me re-energize and beat back the emotional hangover. Hang in there. I hope next week is better.

    3. What a relief to know that other people also suffer these emotional hangovers after uproar of one sort or another. My family labeled me “oversensitive” and so I always imagine Everyone Else stolidly getting on with things, unbothered by events that throw me off my stride. And this even after I realized that at least some members of my family are quite sensitive on topics that matter to them. Reading seems like a good way to cope, as does exercise.

    4. I really like the phrase “emotional hangover.” That’s perfect for those days when I’m still hung up about something simply because I can’t stop thinking about it and focus on whatever is supposed to be next.

  19. Last week’s goal: 1.Final rewrite of Paper X before sending to a senior co-author this week. 2.Work for at least 2 hours on the analysis for Paper Z. Including emailing for help if I need to.

    Accomplished: I got my acceptance email, and we all totally celebrated. I felt more shocked than anything. AND I did a final rewrite, and sent Paper X to my co-author. OTOH, nothing on the analysis of Paper Z.

    Next goal: At least 2 hours on the analysis for Paper Z. This week has a lot of teaching and marking, so I need to make sure that all gets done in a timely manner as well, I exercise, and I don’t exhaust myself working crazy hours.

    Commentary: Thanks for the really interesting question to reflect on this week. I generally work aspirationally. However, because I am also trying to get a job, I am working more normatively than I would otherwise (e.g. how many papers have I published this year compared to other likely competitiors for the same jobs?). It can be both depressing and motivating, so I have to work harder on keeping positive when I am working normatively.

      1. Congratulations! And in a more fun way than that article suggests: have some chocolate or champagne! If my boss said, “Sit down, let’s talk about it. I’d love to see a copy and go over it together. Tell me what you think works about it,” my response (unspoken, I hope, but you never know) would be, “Dude, it’s too late to go over it, I already gave it to Tom! If you wanted to go over it, you should have given me an earlier deadline, and if you want to see what works about it, read it yourself, because I’m on to the next task.”

        Basically, I believe in tangible rewards. Preferably money, chocolate, or new footgear.

      2. I agree about the chocolate, champagne, and footwear!

        In my husband’s corporate job, they are actually pretty good at celebrating big milestones (a new product launch, say), but they tend to do less with smaller but important “done” items. Often there are six other urgent things, so even stopping with a manager to assess the project could do much for acknowledging the accomplishment.

        But in academia, I think the delectable treat celebration is much more desirable.

  20. last goal: Edit and revise chapter 2.

    accomplished: Actually, I trashed it.

    next goal: write every day. Time to change my approach to goal setting.

    commentary: Part of the process of transforming a dissertation into a manuscript is trying to determine its form and scope, and I thought I had managed that somewhat effectively. I finally realized that my struggle with organizing the material in chapter 2 wasn’t about where to put things, it was about things that didn’t belong. I basically evacuated the chapter. A few pages fit in chapter 1, and a short piece goes in chapter 4. Much was deleted. This is a relief but also kind of scary in that I need to continue to rethink what this book looks like, despite having written a proposal already.

    Normative, ipsative and aspirational: Still pondering. Normative got me through graduate school. I think aspirational is probably my approach now, although what I aspire to is also drawn on what I see others doing and wanting to model their dedication and productivity.

    1. Sometimes cutting words really is making progress, so congratulations on your progress! I’m curious to see what other people have to say about the diss to book process, since I haven’t experienced it yet.

    2. I’m having similar struggles with the dissertation to book process. I’ve had to trash some material that I really, really liked. But it just didn’t belong. I know that I’ll take one discarded chunk and try to re-work it into an article, but it’s hard to let go of that earlier work.

    3. I still think the things I cut between diss and book – and why my diss is still necessary – were crucial to the book working. (and it works enough that 25 years post-pub, I’m still earning royalties…). But yes, it’s hard. Key is what do you want to say, and what do you need to make the argument. I’d add to not be afraid of a short book: people will read it!

      1. Thanks all for your encouragement and thoughts. It is good to have a better sense of what the book will become. I will write a new table of contents as soon as I finish grading today.Writing will be my reward for finishing the grades.

  21. Last week’s goals: 1) Aside from obtaining a necessary source just discovered, let the lyric essay have a rest week while I focus my prose energies on a residency application. 2) Four 12-minute sessions on the poem sequence.

    Accomplished: 1) I found the necessary source, I let the lyric essay rest, and I haven’t made a lick of progress on the residency application. 2) I did the four 12-minute sessions.

    Next week’s goals: 1) 60 minutes on the lyric essay over multiple sessions over the course of the week. 2) Five 12-minute sessions on the poems.


    I like the normative-ipsative-aspirational framework. The ipsative view has been helpful for me as I’ve been setting these very modest weekly goals. It really is quite an accomplishment for me to carve a total of two focused hours out of my life some weeks, and modest though my goals are, they are giving me far better writing weeks than the many I’ve had when I didn’t spend ANY time on my current writing projects. (This is both because I’m actually spending the butt-in-chair time and because even these small chunks of writing help keep the projects near the front of my mind.) Normative, these days, makes me fretful, as most of my writer friends are not teaching anywhere near the load I am, and I get frustrated if I try to compare myself to them, so I try not to. Aspirational is moderately helpful: it helps me keep applying for things (like that residency whose application I neglected this week) that will give me more time, and it keeps me writing when I might otherwise tell myself I am too busy and tired.

    Regarding that residency application. On the one hand, it isn’t due until December. On the other, it’s not like I’m going to be suddenly coming into possession of more time. I need to put a little bit of work into it now. I’ve also been neglecting a conference panel I am supposed to be putting together and some conference speakers I am supposed to invite; if I’m not working on the essay, I should be getting some of these other writing-biz things done. I just put a little time into updating WorkFlowy and getting some of those things onto my list for the week.

    Belonging to this group is so unbelievably helpful. Knowing that the weekly check-in is coming up keeps me working on my goals all week. Thank you again.

    1. I’m curious about the twelve-minute sessions — mostly just how you wound up with 12 rather than, say, 10 or 15 minutes. Regardless, I’m so glad that the short sessions are really working for you; your life is so very busy that I’m sure it’s the only way to carve out writing time at all!

      1. Well, I had 20-minute chunks at the start of this writing group, but I was finding that by 8-10 minutes, I was usually done with what I could do at that point, and I’d either get frustrated or write a little prose about what I’d just done. Sometimes a little something extra happened, but 12 minutes seemed like long enough to get something done and short enough that I would actually do more of them. I realize now that this is how I’ve usually worked on poems–taking many, many short feints at them, often several in one day. Having the goal just ensures that I will do it instead of saying “Are you kidding? I’m too busy to work on a poem!”

  22. Achieved this week:
    Got my proposal outline completed and emailed to supervisors for their feedback.
    Article – not so good. Only got two pages of footnotes done.

    Next week:
    – Article: footnotes for pages 7 – 12 and incorporate a couple of additional sources (new pubs that are relevant to my argument); revise per supervisor’s feedback (mostly minor suggestions to improve flow and signposting)
    – Finish up the essay marking so I can get that off my plate
    – Read and take notes on the two books I have on interloan so I can return them

    Despite not getting as much done on the article as I planned, I feel like I had a pretty productive week. I had a bunch of essays that needed to be marked so that had to be prioritised, but I’m pleased I finally got the proposal outline to bed. Turns out I included a lot more detail in it than I had initially planned, so if my supervisors are happy with it, it means I’m well on the way to completing a full draft of the full proposal.

    1. Congratulations on your productive week! A good proposal outline leads you to a well-constructed research!

  23. *waves*

    Ugh, I did manage two writing sessions, but little progress, since i’d apparently wiped the previous week’s work by accident.

    This week: writing on at least two days of the week. Yes.

  24. Goal for the week: 1000 words

    Accomplished: less than 200 words. I did reconsider an article that I had taken notes on almost 2yrs ago, and located another article that helps clarify my argument.

    Commentary: I had a great Monday, the day that I did this and a great teaching day. Starting Tuesday, it went downhill. My main problems are adjusting to a syllabus that I did not write and also supervising two TAs that are borderline incompetent. And I do not use this word lightly–it really is that scary. I also held extra office hours for students. A colleague said that I should not do this, but I think that if I offer the opportunity for help to my 300+ students, and a dozen show up, then my time is not wasted because I have helped those who wanted help. I feel that those students are on track to succeed. However, it put me behind because mid-term grades are do, I am being evaluated in class tomorrow, and I have to come up with a syllabus for a winter course. Oh, and finish my dissertation.

    How I compare myself: I am a perfectionist so I am, unfortunately, normative and aspirational, and I always seem to fall short. I appreciate the reminder of the possibility of being ipsative–looking at what I have accomplished. I also appreciate Pilgrim/Heretic’s post that reminds me to enjoy my writing. Somehow, I have no problem conveying my thoughts here or in an email, but if I sit down to write history, I choke, and every insecurity that I possess pops up. When I was an undergraduate, I was ‘cocky’ and embraced all of ideas and willingly conveyed them. With age, I have become more circumspect and keep things closer to my chest. Hmm.

  25. Last week’s goals: Draft narrative for LM talk; write internal grant; finish edits on P&P paper.

    Accomplished: Rewrote intro for LM paper but not a full narrative for the talk; finished internal grant (sending today); finished edits on P&P but realized the intro needs rewriting

    Analysis: This week has been eaten up by grading. I do most of my writing on the weekends and this weekend I had to grade for my undergrad class. I am now behind on my feedback to doctoral students, so that’s today’s task. Hopefully writing can happen on Monday & Tuesday this week.

    Next week’s goals: Rewrite discussion for LM paper; rewrite intro on P&P paper; start drafting BE findings

    I am definitely ipsative in most goals I set. For some of them, especially physical ones, I throw in some aspirational motivation. Lately for writing, I’m just about doing it. As long as I’m writing consistently I’m not worrying about goals (which may explain why my last week’s goals and my accomplishments rarely line up).

  26. Failed at even my very small goal — the week was knocked out by how sick I got, and I’m still not feeling well, so I’m guessing it was some kind of flu. I wasn’t able to postpone the (Skype) interview so had to muster through it (at least the fever had gone down by then!).

    Goal for next week: get some notes typed up, finish skimming last two books for evidence of consumption, read/note one item. Notes typed up needs to be the priority, though, because that’s what leads to actual writing.

    Re goal-setting models: normative is no good for me whatsoever. I don’t know many people in my situation (in a semi-nonacademic job wanting to continue to do academic writing) and if I start beating myself up for not writing the way “real” academics write I will never get anything done. Ipsative and aspirational work better for me, but honestly, I’d rather not get into *any* kind of formal goal-setting mindset because I think that JUST WRITING is a better approach for me (I’m with tracynicholrose on that one). Someone I follow on Twitter posted something about letting yourself write every day, rather than making yourself write, and that rang very true for me… I like writing, I’d rather think of it in terms of something I am letting myself do.

  27. Last Week’s Goal: 2500 words on the intro and lit review
    Accomplished: 1278 words

    Analysis: I don’t feel too bad about not meeting my goal. I don’t really have much more to add to this article at the moment. I’ve been struggling with the introduction and really coming up with what I want to say exactly. But I’ve found an article that I think I can use as a model to move forward. I sort of hate this part when productivity will be measured not in words but in wordsmithing.

    Next Week’s Goal: Redo introduction and review section with the intention of clearly communicating what I want to say. Maybe begin the conclusion.

    Commentary: The question of comparison raised is an interesting way of thinking about evaluating myself and my progress. I try very hard to be ipsative because I do think that I have come along way. I think when comparing myself normatively it depends on who is considered “around” me. In grad school it was helpful to compare myself to one person in my cohort who seemed to know what was going on. He came from an academic family, seemed to know the ropes, and he’s very easy going. So when he started going to conferences I figured that I should start doing that as well and the same goes for publishing, etc. We both finished at the exact same time and we both have two year post docs. Comparing myself to him has been helpful beyond measure. But when I look at other people who are about where I am (very recent grads) and seem to be doing amazingly well (tt jobs at famous super fancy institutions, etc.), I find that to be less helpful and almost discouraging. When I think about aspirational comparisons I look to senior scholars who have a CV that I would like to have and that I think I can obtain. I also look for people who resemble me biographically. They become my aspirational model and the benchmark for where I would like to be. (Sorry this was so long, I didn’t expect it to be)

  28. Last week’s goal: Index 20 pages.

    Accomplished: 20 pages indexed!

    Next week’s goal: Over the next two weeks, index 30 pages.

    Commentary: Having the group to report to helped motivate me to achieve my goal after I didn’t meet it last week – so thank you all again! I need to get this index worked on, so I will press ahead. I don’t think I’ll have time to check in next week, but in two weeks I’ll report back again.

    That’s a great framework as a tool for thinking about the way you work. I tend to like setting myself goals and working towards them, so my first instinct would be to say my primary motivation is ‘aspirational’ – but I’d want to give it some thought as to whether that’s the whole truth!

  29. Last week’s goals: 45 minutes of writing every day, and a 10-page working draft by the end of the week.

    Accomplished: I was writing pretty steadily early in the week, but as of Wednesday my office became unusable, and I have no idea when repairs will be done. I’d planned to have a 10-page working draft by the end of this week, but I only managed a 5-page draft. But I did read a couple of articles in addition to the writing and am finally feeling more excited about it (in part as a result of having finished that horrid service assignment last week).

    Next week’s goals: 5 more pages, for a total of 10 pages. I have another essay I’m trying to finish and polish, so that’s the main goal for this week. I need to get to two stacks of grading from last week, plus continue gathering materials for my review…

    In terms of overall frameworks: I like to think that normative will motivate me, but more often than not it has the opposite effect. So I tend to be more aspirational, but am always falling short. Hmmm….

  30. Early on in my career (pre-tenure), I measured myself by external milestones (normative). Now, however, with tenure and the first book behind me, and a lot of yoga practice exhorting me to “stay on my own mat”, I’m moving more towards aspirational, and the other one. Basically, I’m trying to establish consistency and new good habits.

    Having said that: This week sucked, work-wise.

    Here’s what I promised: 90 minutes of work a day, split between reading and taking notes-and-musings on the readings.

    Here’s what I managed to do: 30 minutes, three mornings this week. And way too much fucking around.

    So next week’s goal needs to be a reset: 90 minutes of work a day, split between reading and taking notes-and-musings on the readings. (look familiar?)

    Analysis: I tell others, “If writing is really a priority, then make it a priority.” Yet when I get swamped, I, too, find it’s the first thing to go. That needs to change. And that starts with establishing some other good habits. More on those in next week’s analysis, I hope.

    1. Notorious, I’m impressed by your goal, but I worry that you’ve set yourself up for failure. Could you be more modest? 30 minutes daily, and at least 2 90 minute sessions? FWIW, I’ve decided that the one thing I won’t sacrifice is sleep, and my health. I could sometimes work an extra few hours in the day, but at what cost to my emotional and physical health? So I guess my question is this: is teaching your classes, keeping up with grading and service, having friends, and getting exercise compatible with 90 minutes of work on research every day? Because if you life is anything like mine, there are days when that is not a realistic goal. To put this another way, one of the features of academic work is that it is not regular, and therefore often NOT conducive to “every day I will. . .” type goals.

      Also, as I’ve found the last few weeks, when things suck, it’s really hard to change gears for research. I admire the goal, but it’s sometimes useful to balance between what we wish we could do and what we actually can do.

  31. Last week’s goal: Do DH application (by 10/1 deadline); do a freelance piece due Friday; figure out exactly what I need to do for P project presentation and finish handouts in time for copying .
    Achieved: DH application done; freelance piece (which really isn’t due until Monday) mostly done (I just realized I’d better stop working on it and check in here); P project handouts figured out but not yet finished (I’ll have to pay for copying myself if my department can’t manage it in time)
    Analysis: I’ll do this is in a reply, since I realize I’m squeaking in past deadline
    Next week’s goal: Finish handouts and do presentation; begin work on another freelance piece; take advantage of the break in routine provided by the conference to think about goals for the second half of the semester.

    Note: I’ll be away at a conference next week, but believe I’ll be able to check in.

    1. The good news is that I just wrote c. 1,000 words of the freelance piece in c. 4 hours (and lost track of time; hence the late check-in). Even counting some earlier writing, and time spent on research (library and internet), I might finish this piece in 10 hours, which works out to a fairly decent hourly rate.

      The bad news is that the deadline-driven freelance work has a way of driving out longer-term projects, and, though it’s in my professional area, isn’t really the sort of work that will lead to professional advancement (I’m writing entries for reference works drawing on others’ peer-reviewed books and articles, not making progress toward my own peer-reviewed publications). Also, I’m behind on my grading, and just plain tired, and need to do some household tasks before I leave for the conference (the maintenance people need to enter my apartment during the period when I’ll be gone for biannual maintenance and “inspection” of systems. Aargh.) But I do need the money, and knowing that I can make money when I need it lessens an anxiety distracts me from my scholarly work. So figuring out the tradeoffs isn’t easy.

      So, right now, I mostly want to make it to the conference with handouts for a presentation in hand (the presentation itself, which is to be short and informal, isn’t an issue; it’s basically already in my head, and I’ll have time to practice and time it once I arrive). And I’m hoping, once I get there, to do some thinking about the bigger picture of what I’m doing, and why, and how to juggle it all, as well (I’ll be busy, of course, but at least some everyday tasks/distractions will be suspended for the moment, and I’ll be sitting and listening more than I usually do, and, for better or for worse, my mind tends to wander to other matters when I’m trying to do that. Also, there will definitely be panels where I’m more interested in one paper than the others, but this is the sort of small-to-medium-sized collegial conference where one tries to minimize ducking out in the middle of panels unless one has a very good reason).

      On goal-setting: I’m still recovering from some unrealistically aspirational goal-setting done for me by other in grad school (and from my own tendencies in the same direction). I do do some normative thinking, mostly, as others have noted, in relation to the job market (in my case, I’m trying to decide if/when it’s worth spending time on applications, given how I would stack up against other applicants for jobs I might plausibly get, which at this point probably means at least “advanced assistant professor” — and no, I’m not at the point where it would make sense yet). On a day to day basis, ipsative goals are probably most useful, and many of those are just “can I keep up some sort of steady pattern?” At this point, I’m thinking seriously of trying to work in even very short period of work on the J article project, just to keep in touch.

      And now, since another goal on which I’m making some progress is a more sensible sleep schedule, and since I really need to grade tomorrow, I’m going to try to go finish the freelance piece as quickly as possible — after I get some dinner.

  32. Last week’s goals: get closer to two hours/day of research; send a draft of the revised proposal to recommenders and to someone else who offered to read it. See if I can move forward with the MMP and translation project, as well.

    Accomplished: 2 hours on two days; 1 hour on one day; a few minutes on another day. I guess I’m averaging an hour a day. Draft sent to recommenders and the other reader; comments back from that reader. Some MMP-related reading. Some hopeless yearning towards the translation.

    Next goal: keep trying on the two hours/day goal. Final edits and mail the proposal.

    Analysis: I should really just give up on Thursdays. I’m too tired to do serious thinking but also unable to settle to any tedious-but-necessary mental task. Mindless, not-too-demanding physical activity seems to be what I’m up for; maybe I should tackle filing on Thursdays.

    On competition: it seems strange to me, but about exercise I am entirely ipsative, not much caring what other people are doing, with a little bit of aspirational—but the aspirations don’t keep going up. I just want to do what I know I need for good health. In work, though, I’m a lot more normative, which as some of you have noted, easily turns into self-punishing narratives. Aspirations also seem to be out of tune with past accomplishments, a similar problem. I think it’s pretty clear that I’d be better off trying to be more ipsative about work matters, too. I wonder why the difference between these different approaches in different realms.

    1. It sounds wise to give yourself a respite day on Thursdays. An hour a day isn’t two, but it’s something! It seems like you’re establishing some good routines.

  33. Last week’s goal: 15 minutes per day for a total of 1.5 hours.

    Accomplished: I think I met the total, but I missed a day or two. I was at a conference, and now we have guests in town, so I’ve been disrupted and OBE.

    Analysis: I’ve gotten a little lazy with my 15 minutes. I’m doing them regularly, but they haven’t seemed quite as productive. I need to do some of them before midnight when I can actually focus.

    Next week: 15 minutes per day, this time just four days for one hour. I have significant reports to finish for the college and three batches of essays. I’m really screwed right and will be totally OBE this week.

    As for this week’s theme, I think I’m an ipsative kind of person. When I recognize my progress, I feel motivated. For example, this past week, I was running on a treadmill, and I ran two miles without stopping. I amazed myself! I can feel the difference in my fitness compared to four months ago. Granted, running two miles on a treadmill seems easier than two miles on the road, but I was still stoked. If I were doing a normative or aspirational comparison, these two miles would not seem like much, but compared to what I used to do, it was great!

    On the flip side, I went surfing today for the first time in four years. Compared to what I used to be able to do, I totally suck now.

    1. Actually, I guess I should say that *lately* I’ve focused on the ipsative. I certainly am prone to aspriational goals or I wouldn’t be doing the damn PhD or hoping to write a novel someday. But most of the time, these days, I’m happy to be inching along.

    2. Good to know that 15-minute-per-day writing works well! Congratulations on your successful running!

    3. I’m impressed by your running! And I haven’t been surfing in over 11 years, so I’m sure you’re still much more impressive than I would be (and you always were). Surfing is where I learned not to be such a perfectionist. It was one of the first things that I loved so much, I didn’t really care if I did it badly. Of course, all the time in the water helped me improved, but I loved even the bad days out.

      Hope the week goes well, despite the reports and OBE.

  34. I’m late I’m late ::pants:: and I don’t know why I’m in such a scrabble this week but I am. ::catches breath::.

    Right, time to face up to what did and didn’t happen:

    goals for last week: 1) review the status and make a work-plan for the few-author paper (goal b), with permission to have the plan start in November if necessary! 2) sort out travel plans for the paper I’m giving in October, 3) chip away at the analyses for that paper October, 4) make decision about focus for the big grant application.

    Achieved:1) nope. I have a great big block of don’t-want-to in the way of this goal, I don’t know why, but it needs to be done! 2) done. And I spent time researching a non-flying travel option, found out that it wasn’t much more expensive in either time or money (It takes substantially longer, but when you take flight times into account, and all the stuff about getting to the airport early and the logistics/cost of getting to the airport, I’d be leaving/arriving back to my house within a couple of hours at both ends of the trip), so I am not flying! Cool! 3) Went backwards, by reviewing all the datafiles and discovering that half of them are missing one key column. Emailed the compiler of the files but got no reply. Sigh. Typed up the analysis protocol I’ve decided on, but didn’t start on the analyses. 4) I think I have a decision, but I need to send some emails to see if the prospective partners would come on board…

    analysis: Too much playing of mindless computer games/web surfing happened. But it was a symptom of a sort of mental stagnation. I don’t know. I don’t want to work right now. Sleeeeeeepppppp. There is a nasty freshers ‘flu going around (we’re just starting week 3 here in UKlandia) and I’ve caught myself hoping I’d get it, which is usually a sign that my mental health isn’t all it should be… enough vague omphaloscepsis, I did SOMETHING on research last week and that is worth celebrating, right?

    goals for this week: 1) face that wretched few-author paper. The first paper is now out, on-line-first style, so I have no excuses left there… 2) outline the paper for the conference and do some data analysis if possible and 3) send emails about the grant. No biggies, but they all need doing…

    Discussion question: Normative makes me depressed so I try not to. Ipsative tends to wake up all the self-critical voices. Aspirational leads to a mixture of ‘I’ll never be good enough so why try’ and ‘I’ll never be able to because… [factor outside my control which does indeed obstruct my research but it really isn’t helpful to obsess about]’. I aim for ipsative with a healthy dose of the Dame’s Bugge Spray! But really, my ‘method’ is simple: apply bottom to chair, fingers to keyboard, and when in doubt, get a fountain pen and some plain paper and just write something, anything, haiku or a bit of algebra or copy out the last paragraph you wrote, just to start the writing muscles up…

    1. Can you break your I-don’t-want-to project into tiny chunks? Maybe even look at it for 5 min., and then move on to something else? It may be that it’s a mountain-molehill situation, but even if it is a mountain, going up one step at a time is the way to get to the top.

  35. Forgot to check in this past week — nothing really to report actually :(. So just reuse my goals above for this coming/current week. I’m already making headway on them! Hooray!

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