With 2018 more than a week behind, I’m sure that most of us are focused on making 2019 our best year to come. I have to admit that I found 2018 to be a difficult year. I had to deal with my own health problem as well as that of a close family member. Although I’m glad to shut the door on 2018, I feel that it is important to reflect on the silver linings (and not just focus on the dark clouds). I believe that the journey is as important as the destination. My 2018 journey is not only the bumps and hurdles, but also the high points – peaks even.
In line with reflecting on the upside of 2018, I made a list of personal highlights from last year. These are small successes and memorable events. Things that on the surface may appear trivial. However, upon closer inspection, I find them quite gratifying.
- This is my second year of blogging for Gradifying. I’m not only proud of my work here, but I also enjoy blogging. I often find academic writing to be stressful because such writing requires persuading others, building solid arguments, and explaining complicated concepts in the most uncomplicated ways. I often end up censoring and censuring myself. To me, blogging is a simple process of pouring my thoughts. Words often leap through my fingers, to the keyboard, and to the screen. I’m free from self-censor and self-censure. The experience of free-flow writing is liberating.
- I took charge of my declining motivation in my PhD project by making my work (research and writing) social. I made my work social in 3 ways. First, I found myself a work partner that I refer to as my PhD buddy. My PhD buddy and I will meet on-line on a weekly basis. During these meetings, we report on what we did the previous week, set our work goals for the following week, and brainstorm ideas on how to meet these new goals. We also help each other out in any way possible. Second, I joined an on-line thesis/dissertation #slack group. Whenever I feel the need for an extra dose of motivation, I will go on-line and find somebody in my #slack group who is also working. I usually end up doing pomodoro sessions with whoever is available. There are also different channels to share tips, ask for advice, and offload our anxieties. And third, I started an on-campus writing group with 2 other PhD students in my program. We meet on Wednesday afternoons on-campus, and work side-by-side for 3 to 4 hours.
- I did the following activities for the first time: climbed Rock Dunder with my family, attended a Women’s Halaqah (study circle) at the Islamic Centre Kingston, as well as volunteered and donated food to Martha’s Table. My greatest highlight in this category is attending a public lecture on Al-Farabi,a renowned Muslim philosopher during the 10th century. I attended this event with my 14-year old son, so that he knows the history behind the person he is named after.
- I submitted my 2017 tax return and received a good chunk of change as refund!
What did I gain from making the list above? Well, for one, a more positive vibe for 2019. By shifting the focus from the duds in 2018 to the highlights, I’m closer to being a glass half full kind of gal. I can definitely benefit from being more positive in life. The second gain is that I’m acknowledging the work I put in last year. I’m not shrugging off my efforts and soldiering on. I’m taking the time to stop and smell the roses. Last, I can see where I can make improvements in 2019. For example,I’d like to join my #slack group on a regular basis and be active in the conversations. I’d also like to rejuvenate my on-campus writing group, which had fallen to the wayside around the end of November. The group started off strong in the beginning of the Fall term. Unfortunately, the three of us became consumed with our own work to the point that making it to campus to work together became a chore. Making the above list reminds me of how much I enjoy working alongside my peers (even though each one of use was working on our own project).
So, if you haven’t done it yet, go ahead and make your own list of highlights from 2018. It boosted my enthusiasm for 2019. It may do the same for you.
Last but not least, Happy New Year from the Gradifying Team!