In the interesting juxtaposition that often happens in life, I ran across this quotation from Eleanor Roosevelt on the same day that my academic writing group had the following topic: What does success mean for you in the context of your Work, not of the employment or study within which you do that work?”
For most academics, research ends up taking the back seat to the more immediate demands of the job: syllabi, grading, office hours, and less so, committees, administration, and University or College service. Thus, for most of the group, “Work” equals “Research.” For me, part of “Work” is my scholarly research, but a large part of it is the “off-the-clock” writing. I do find myself chasing success in the day job, which has its merits but is not fulfilling in the same way that my Work would be. I guard against falling headfirst into that rabbit hole by reminding myself that the day job does not reflect the “real me,” but merely something that I do well that pays reasonably well
The existence of public and private selves has set up a dissonance in my life, analogous to the harmonic resonance that shatters crystal. I’ve never been good at keeping the “important, but not urgent” goals in the forefront, finding myself far more persuaded by the “urgent, but not important” that pays my bills. I tend to say, “when I have a sabbatical,” or “when I retire,” which is less and less satisfying.
I’m finally to the point where my fear of failing is less than my fear of never trying. As for my ROW80 goals: slow and steady wins the race. I keep falling down, but I keep picking myself up, more importantly. Excelsior!
What does success mean for you?
Please go visit some of the participants here. We’re headed into the dreaded middle of the challenge, which is almost as boggy as the middle of a WIP.
4 thoughts on “Chasing Success”
Elizabeth, I love academic historical researchers. To me, there is where you find wisdom. If we’ve been there, done that…then why do we (including governments) keep making the same mistakes over and over? I am watching the PBS’s The Abolitionists…then there were the robber barons… I watch Ancient Aliens on Friday evenings on the The History Channel and am taking notes on those ancient megalithic boulders across the globe. I find you extremely successful. Hopefully success IS in the journey, not the destination. I’m having the time of my life, writing with the WANAs…and I am going on 60’ish, and haven’t made any real money yet!…. I’ve been into several different business over the years…each time trying to grab the Gold Ring…each time falling short. Now I am researching the Women who have gone before us…paving the way for equality, in finances, health care, respect, etc…. If I could just half way live up to one of those heroines of yesteryear, I will feel successful. Your website is soothing. I love it.
Humans just can’t resist thinking ‘this time around we won’t make the same mistakes:(!’ – I love the research bit of anything – so much to learn about – so many interesting titbits. Archives love them:) all the best for this week:)
I know exactly how you feel, Elizabeth. This is why I left academia immediately after I got my PhD – I knew I’d never be able to make time for my writing if I had such a demanding job. Now I work part time at a university writing centre, which is a great compromise for me.
Ha, my motto this year is “Don’t waste time waiting for the “right” moment, make it happen now.” So far I had a great couple of years with that shift in thinking.