5 Tips for Taking On #AcWriMo

coaching, creative work, networking, productivity
And since you should be writing anyway . . . here are a few ways to approach a BIG writing push during the month of November. You can make your daily goal about time spent writing, number of words, number of items dealt with (annotations, notes, etc.). Whatever makes sense for your biggest priority project at its current stage is a great goal for #AcWriMo. Daily is HARD but it isn't impossible. As we all know, even fifteen minutes per day will slowly but surely amass enough words to move a project from where it is now to where it needs to be next. Commit to at least one writing session per day during the month and stick to it. You and your physical or virtual writing group can keep…
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Turn Good Intentions into Concrete Action with the Energized Leadership Program

coaching, networking, services
You have goals and aspirations; they're easier to meet when you have a team! Guys, I am so excited about this!! My code-word for October has been "collaboration," because, for me, October was traditionally the Month of All the Conferences. For me, conferences are those spaces you go to not only to share your work but to get super excited about what other people are doing. You find synergy at conferences, or impulses to enhance your research, or reminders of why it is you do the work that you do. The problem is that conferences only last a weekend, at most. Then you go home, back into the classroom and the regular rhythm of the semester and all of your energy to Do All the Things begins to fade. Your…
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Sparking Joy and “No”

big picture question, coaching
One of the questions I often ask in my capacity as coach is "what resonates with you?" That may be sort of woo-woo language, but it gets at something fundamental about feelings and desires, which, in turn can give us access to deep reserves of motivation and excitement around something. To have something resonate with you is different than "liking" something or approving of it or wanting to do it. Resonance comes, I believe, from your gut, your instinct and is an internal nod of the head of sorts that says, "oh, yes; that fits." When I think of the concept of resonance, I picture really clearly the room in which I took yoga classes during my first pregnancy. As I got bigger and bigger, I had to modify more…
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Big Picture Question 3: Conducting a Self-Evaluation

big picture question, coaching
This week’s #bigpicture prompt gives us an opportunity to take last week’s prompt and change direction on it: How would I evaluate my own performance? Last week, we tried to look at ourselves through someone else’s eyes. This time around, I’m asking you to take the opportunity to think of how you would conduct an evaluation of yourself. Of course, in order to evaluate yourself, you need a yardstick, a job description. You can, of course, stick with the job description that came with your work contract. You’ll know whether you are engaged in the duties necessary to your position or working toward the goals set by your team or organization. But you can also expand on that and add to it the qualifications and criteria that are important to…
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BOOK REVIEW: So What Are You Going to Do with That?

coaching, education
Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius published the first edition of So What Are You Going to Do with That? Finding Careers Outside Academia in 2001. I think I bought a copy then; I was in the middle of my dissertation and it seemed like a prudent thing to do. If I read it, I don’t recall that now. (I was also in the middle of having children; if I don’t remember much of 2001-2004, it’s their fault). The third edition, published in 2015, contains updated stories and includes more on the post-academic career trajectories of scientists than the earlier editions of the text did; these add to its already considerable strengths as a guide for people who are thinking of leaving academia and forging a career path for themselves that…
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How to Keep Doing What You Do when the World is Burning

coaching
As I said recently on Twitter, “bad news abounds.” And that was before I saw the news that Jerry Falwell, Jr. is going to lead a federal task force on higher education in the United States. Frankly, the bad news is coming at us at a rate that is giving me some sort of cognitive concussion from the repetitive blows to my sense of right in the world. What with “alternative facts” and constant contradictions and disagreements emanating from DC, a researcher/scholar/teacher could get a wee bit discouraged that the critical thinking skills s/he teaches and the assessment strategies s/he uses are relics of a past era we can soon refer to as “the good old days.” So how to stay motivated and, if possible, buoyant on these troubled waters?…
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A Fresh Perspective

coaching, post-academic
Any job can be, or become, draining. Aggressive or needy colleagues; a repeating cycle of the same courses, same lessons, same student errors; and allowing yourself to get roped into service commitments that drain your energy and produce few results can all lead to burnout, frustration, and thoughts of a simple 9-5 job with less Angst. The policies (or lack thereof) put forward by university administrations can also contribute to burnout and frustration. When management systems and universal guidelines impinge on how you schedule assignments, advise students, order textbooks, assess students, and myriad other things, your sense of autonomy and purpose feels under attack. For those with stable jobs, this frustration can then be compounded by survivor’s guilt and the knowledge that they should not be “crying on the yacht.”…
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The Silliness of Early Career Planning

coaching, education
I was invited last week to present on my current job and my career trajectory to my eldest daughter’s 10th-grade Civics and Careers class. Her class is divided into working groups and each of these is required to formally invite someone into the class to present on their career and the path they took to get there. At first I thought my daughter might be cheating a bit by asking her mom to do this, but I was won over when she told me: “But mom, I think your career trajectory is interesting. You used to be a professor and now you’re not; plus you’re a CAREER COACH, what isn’t perfect about that?” Awwww, flattery will get me every time. My daughter told me she thought my story was interesting…
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Whose Voice is in Your Head

coaching, Little Hater, post-academic
What was your vision of your life after graduate school? An enviable concoction of interesting seminar classes, writing, and participating in shaping the university and/or the discipline as a professor in your field? That image of the tenure-track position, leading to a secure and tenured future, is a powerful one. It endures in the face of abundant information indicating that, in most fields, it is this very job that is the “alternative” career for PhD holders. Many PhD holders in the humanities and social sciences end up in jobs that do not require a PhD, and many others take research or policy positions where their PhD is an asset but are also not in the academy. We all know of the huge pool of adjunct, sessional, and contract faculty members…
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Success & Failure

coaching
A professor colleague of mine recently reflected on a “revise and resubmit” decision she had received from a journal: “why does success so often feel like failure?” Although her article had not been rejected (success!), the external readers or editors found things with which to quibble (failure!) And because publishing an article is one more step on the road to tenure, wavering on that path, even a bit, causes anxiety, shame, envy, fear, what have you--a whole bevy of negative emotions. Or was that just me? Success has a very narrow definition in academia: PhD, tenure-track job, dissertation revised and published as a monograph or article series, publication in highly ranked journals, tenure. Missteps, detours, and layovers can delay the journey to success, of course, or make it an unpleasant…
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