A Winter’s Tale

The above song is my mom’s favourite, and no reminding her that it’s really a story of a failed romance that’s ignored by the world will shift in her mind that.

We’re now in Twixmas, for me the best bit when all the stress of the Big Day is over, and the New Year looms as the chance to have another fresh start.  Last year I gave myself four new years resolutions, and I thought I’d see how well I did with regards to them.

  1. I am not going to beat myself up if I miss a day’s work due to migraine/sickness/apathy/American Dad DVD boxset.  This is a marathon, not a race, and it’s better to write 100 good words that I’m happy with than 200 words that I feel have been squeezed out of me.
  2. I will not get shirty when people ask me ‘How’s the PhD?’ rather than ‘How are you?’ – I will thank them for taking an interest and remember that this is a temporary addition to my life.
  3. I will not get distracted when working by Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Tumblr,  finding the perfect playlist or podcast to listen to or by discovering that cleaning the dishwasher is a fascinating way of spending an afternoon.
  4. I will recognise that whilst I might not yet be the world authority on my subject, I probably know a lot more about it than most people.  I’m sure I’ve shared this diagram with you before which is on my noticeboard above me.  I’m still pushing at the border… sometime soon the slight bump I can feel will relent.

Well I ended up missing a lot more than a day’s work, a suspected subarachnoid hemorrhage will do that to you I guess.  The four month break was essential for me to get back on track, yes I missed my first deadline of the end of January 2014 for submission, and it’s touch and go with regards to May 2014 at the moment, most people need some extra writing-up time and whilst I really wanted to submit then, and am still aiming for that, I can’t beat myself up if I don’t hit that, and have to spend a little more time to ensure it’s at the right standard.

Ah, my second resolution caused some amusement amongst my friends who then took every opportunity to ask how the PhD is going, rather than ask me.  I think I’m more tolerant of this now… maybe…

Distractions continue, and my new 27″ screen doesn’t help here as I can have several things open and available at the same time.  I love my new mac, hate that one of the core applications (Mail) doesn’t work how I want it too, or work very well at all to be honest, but I have a nifty workround for that at the moment.  I don’t know an easy answer for this, I can’t really say I work better in a distraction-free environment, I’ve spent a lot of time in the university library, you can’t get more disctraction-free than that, and I can’t really say I work better there.

But I can record progress on the last one, I do think that I’m ‘pushing the circle’ with regards to my subject.  I recognise weaknesses in my argument and have built up some defences about this, about the approach I’ve taken and the reason I’ve written up as I have (despite having a complete mental block in a Skype chat a couple of weeks back about how many chapters I actually had in my thesis (six)).

New year, new resolutions…. Well, one, two and three still stand.  I think my migraines are under better control now which means I’ve only lost a couple of days since restarting in November to the throbbing headaches that were rather more regular.  The only additional one relates to my own expectations about what I can achieve.  There’s a paper ‘It’s a PhD, not a Nobel Prize’ that puts the work I’ve been doing in context, as I complete my fourth year on this though, and start nudging into my fifth, the feeling that this should be the last Christmas which will be overshadowed by those three words.

 

References

Mullins, Gerry and Kiley, Margaret (2002) ‘“It’s a PhD, Not a Nobel Prize”: How Experienced Examiners Assess Research Theses.’, Studies in Higher Education, 27(4), pp. 369–86, [online] Available from: http://libezproxy.open.ac.uk/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ655990&site=eds-live&scope=site.
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