Looking back at 2018

When I was thinking about my resolutions for 2018, I was still working on my resolutions for 2017. My 2017 resolutions were big, varied, and required a lot of life changes. And this only seemed to make them far less attainable. My goals in 2017 included starting to work out in the mornings (fail), making one meatless dinner each week (pass), doing one unassisted pull up by my birthday (half fail…I did one type of unassisted pull up, but not the kind I wanted to), dedicate 2-3 hours each week to creative writing (another half fail – some weeks I did, some I didn’t), running 10km non-stop by May (major fail), traveling twice to a new place (pass) and figuring out what I called “the PhD dilemna”. Days before the holidays in December 2017, I’d finally made up my mind and gone to meet with a professor about starting my PhD on a part-time basis.

So when I started thinking about my resolutions for 2018, I tried to keep them small and simple:

  1. Prepare for your PhD – by working out in the morning, even for 20 minutes, twice a week
  2. Prepare for your PhD – by reading more and learning some Python skills, just enough to get your started
  3. Prepare for your PhD – by making your work-life balance work for you.

Looking back on the year, did I accomplish my goals? The short answer: mostly.

There are still times when I don’t work out in the mornings twice a week, but during busy times in my studies and at work I make time to do yoga once a day. For me, it’s not quite the same as getting a great weightlifting session in at the gym, but it keeps me centered and moving and, depending on the yoga class, still works up a sweat.

I worked on reading more and working on learning Python when I could, but certainly not as much as I wanted to. I procrastinated and watched too much television, but I also spent time with my friends and family, went to the cottage, and lived my life pre-PhD to the fullest.

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In September, I traveled with my boyfriend to Iceland. And I was happy.

And, possibly most importantly, I made a major change in my work life. I started a new job in an area called Brand Journalism, or Brand Communications, which lets me write creatively for external audiences with our brand narrative at the core of our messages and stories. It’s a fantastic job that gives me creative freedom and allows me to work remotely when necessary to accommodate my school load. After a year of significant challenges and growth at work, I’ve transitioned into a role that makes me happy almost every day – and even on the days I’m not so happy, I know the next day will be better and will give me reason to come to work. It’s also restored more balance to my life and reduced stress because I’m genuinely enjoying everything I’m doing. I spent a week this summer in Toronto attending an incredible conference our company hosts, and have spent every day since then developing engaging external content. And I love every minute of it.

That brings me to what I consider to be my biggest accomplishment of 2018: starting my PhD. When I completed my M.A. in 2013, I had been accepted to start my PhD that fall but, after talking it through with a few important people in my life, I decided to turn down the offer and work for a few years. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever make my way back to the academic world, but after years of dabbling in academia while working full time (attending and organizing conferences, publishing papers, etc.,), I’d decided that 2017 was the year I’d make my decision, once and for all. And, one way or another, I’d either move on with my PhD, or just move on.

I chose the former, and have never been happier. I’ve found my academic home at the University of Guelph, and am loving my program and my fellow students so far. I couldn’t have imagined a better fit for me, both personally and professionally at this moment.

I know, it sounds like everything is just perfect in my life–and while I’m incredibly happy with my decisions, this isn’t exactly the case. Balancing work and school is incredibly hard, but it’s the kind of hard the ignites your soul. So, 2018 has been an incredible year for me, and I can’t wait to see what 2019 brings.

Stay tuned for more insights into what I’ve got planned for 2019 and my resolutions for the upcoming year.

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