Ana Dinescu, writing from Berlin, Germany
Goals may vary. The aim may be to be as good as possible, to make the best deals for publishing our books, or to upgrade our career paths.
If you are looking for a serious and solid career, you can not avoid such moments of professional and personal introspection. On a human level, we often operate similarly to the banking system. We carefully calculate the value of our time and personal investments, and withdraw our involvements from projects and ideas deemed to fail.
The risk of such long-range perspective is that we forget sometimes to plan our daily present tasks with the same attention. For instance, we might want to write the greatest book of our life in the next five years, but this will not be possible if we only repeat this mantra each and every day. It means that we must learn a lot about publishing, develop a network of contacts in the academic domain of interest for our book, follow the latest trends in our topic, and improve our writing skills, among other things. If we focus most of our creative energies on the moment, at the end of the day, we will have a lot of lessons learned to think about and to further develop in our next professional adventures.
This is one of the reasons why, for me, more important than the long-term planning is how I succeed to get the best of each and every day. As I do have a quite busy professional schedule, my academic and overall writing plans are usually considered very early in the morning or late in the evening. Due to limited time, I must be careful and make the best choices and opportunities to learn what I need, and to stay updated with the best work in my domain of study.
Especially when life is split between professional, academic life, and family requirements, time is one of our most precious assets, and time management is an art that you should apply punctiliously. It may look like a very stressful daily landscape, but in fact, I feel that I can achieve more on all planes: I avoid the monomaniacal pursuit of the ‘big’ objective in my life, and I gather a lot of small, interesting opportunities that will help me to build the human dimension of my daily life. Thus, I avoid being a robot that is afraid of failures, because the failures are the end of its inner functioning mechanism. I need mistakes and errors as I need achievements, because they allow me to correct my vision and move on to a different path.
More important than the planning is the daily awareness of the need to evaluate each of our steps. You don’t need to wait for twelve months to pass to get the best life lessons. Try instead to use the best of each of the 24 hours of the day.
This post was also published in Inside Higher Ed