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.