Editing Modernism in Canada


July 20, 2014

Staying the course: Research Plans, Motivation, and Pacing

Hannah’s recent post about staying energized has prompted welcome reflection on timing and pacing.
As a strategy to stay energized, I recently met with a colleague to create a 5 year plan and to chart out the years leading to tenure review.  I find that meeting with colleagues in person helps to keep me motivated in the wake of energizing events like Congress, DHSI, and TEMiC. With a full teaching load from September to May, I always welcome the summer as a time devoted to research and writing; by July, however, something strange happens: I miss the structure and timetable that teaching provides. In the process of creating a 5 year plan, I realized the following:
1) I really need a 3 year plan as I prepare for tenure review.
2) I really really need a 5 week plan in order to accomplish key tasks before I go back to teaching in the Fall.
3) I also realized just how long major research projects take.

I ended up writing the same 3 research projects in years 1-3 in order to take into account revision and unforeseen inevitable delays. This process of rewriting the same goals helped me to focus on the long-term plan and . . . wait for it . . . to be patient.
Yes, patience was my take-away from the 5-year plan exercise: research projects take a long time from inception to realization, and that is ok.

In a way, my motivational exercise made me realize that it is important to stay energized but that it is, to borrow a tired metaphor, a marathon and not a sprint. And in the spirit of “energizing” old habits, let’s run with this metaphor, shall we?
I have been increasing my running mileage lately in preparation for a Midsummer Night’s run, which brings together my love of Shakespeare and running; these morning runs are done at conversational pace, a wonderful mix of enjoyment and challenge. This is the pace that I seek to set for my research: a pace that enables me to engage in dialogue with peers, colleagues, and fellow Canadianists; a pace that enables me to take the time out from my precious writing schedule to attend TEMiC; a pace with a run-talk, work-life balance.

To echo Hannah, how do you stay energized? Have you tried the 5 year plan? What are your strategies for staying on target with work goals?

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