Dear readers and co-bloggers,
in the last months, I thought again and again about what we could do as a “end of the year” blogpost. I wondered whether we should list here our publications (you are welcome to do it in the comments, by the way, I, for one, am always curious to know what other people are working on) or our major achievements (same as above).
However, allow me to ask a more radical question: What should count as an achievement for us? How should we evaluate the success-rate of a given year? My first answer would be doing good* research and trying to share my results so that they are available to interested readers. However, the problem becomes more complicated as soon as we try to get objective measures for both goals —and objective measures would be desirable, in order to achieve better clarity for our goals.
Here are some candidates:
- You published an article in a top-10 journal
- You published N articles/books/reviews…
- You taught N (graduate/undergraduate) classes (and survived:-))
- You met new interesting colleagues
- You got N interviews/a job offer/a (TT or temporary) job/earned tenure/your project has been accepted
- You tutored or helped N students
- You organised N conferences/workshops/webinars…
- You have been invited to speak at X
- You have received N emails of people asking for your advice or telling you that they enjoy your work
(Am I missing something? Please let me know)
Now, the problem is: Which ones are pseudo-indicators of success and what counts really? It is not easy to tell, especially since, e.g., less innovative and ultimately useless articles may be fashionable and thus get published on top-10 journals whereas books which might not be influential now could become so in one hundred years. Thus, even if we could agree on the general goal, it remains unclear how to identify how we should be spending our time in order to achieve it.
My solution is that I try
- a) to envision a 5- or 10-years plan (which includes concrete goals such as: editing and translating the published and unpublished portions of Veṅkaṭanātha’s Seśvaramīmāṃsā, publishing my translation of Rāmānujācārya’s Tantrarahasya, translating the tarkapāda of Prabhākara’s Bṛhatī).
- b) check how much progress I made in that direction in the last 12 months.
- c) go to a) and be more realistic
- d) write down what should be (realistically) done in the next six to twelve months in order to progress in the direction of the goals set in a’)
Interestingly enough, as long as I can day-dream with 10 years at my disposal, I tend to over-estimate what I will achieve. Step b) makes me, instead, realise how short are the years. I can thus re-write my goals for the step a) and consider more carefully what I can do in ten years and what needs to be done in the next year.
What are your strategies for planning a successful year? And how successful has been this year for you?
*I don’t buy the idea that “good” means “low quality” and that our goal should be nothing less than “outstanding”.