Today is going to be quite busy between OR experiments and all the other stuff I have going on (writing, data processing, etc.). One of those other things is something I thought would be easier than it’s turning out to be and so I figured I would talk about it today. I work in a teaching hospital and specifically I do research in lab that does human experiments. I really love it and I’ve talked about all that before, but now we’re discussing what my goals are for my employment and it isn’t as straightforward as I expected.
I absolutely hate any sort of standardized form asking for where you see yourself in ten years. You know the ones, most of them suggest looking at other pseudoscience BS for help like personality tests and what not. Again, hate the stuff, mostly because they are trying to shoehorn a one size fits all approach to something that is very personal. It would be like me throwing you a pair of pants and expecting them to fit no matter how tall you are.
In the last lab meeting we were asked to explain our goals and what we want out of our time working here. Since I’ve been working at the lab the longest I was selected to go first. Mostly because this will be the first time the lab has tried anything like this and I know hospital-PI the best so I won’t take offence if things don’t go as smoothly as the forms suggest they should. Hospital-PI is great, but he is also opinionated so I suspect we’re using me as practice to make sure that others don’t end up walking away feeling hurt. I’m okay with the idea, but it also means I’m first.
The form was just a few sections asking for short-term, long-term, personal, and professional goals. I’ve had a clear idea of where I wanted to be for the past 15 years or so, so I assumed all this would be very easy to do. Spoiler, it wasn’t.
Most of my goals are long-term and revolve around a very singular focus so it felt redundant to write the same thing repeatedly. I did it anyway because, what else would I do, but it does feel like a waste of time/form space. Maybe it’s because I know what I want and the things I need to do to get there, but literally my form is just repeating the same few things over and over.
My goals? Write better, network more, publish more, be a better speaker. The things that would help me get to a good PI position, but also help me share my science with others. I practice speaking often with different outreach projects and my writing has definitely improved — I can say that after re-reading “robot paper” for the 12543653453425434th time and comparing it to my recent publications. So maybe I’m just a simple person with simple goals, but I don’t want much else than that.
I’m not looking to leave a huge mark on the world or become famous. My goals are very simple, learn the things I need to do to help as many people as I can while I still have the mental energy to work regularly. That last part is important because I definitely have an expiration date that is earlier than most and I don’t want to work until I drop dead, that isn’t something I’m interested in despite seeing others in the field literally do just that (very recently in fact). If that makes you happy then by all means, more power to you. I just don’t have that kind of mental health stability.
So today when I send off this form in anticipation of my meeting to discuss the form and address how we will actually accomplish those things, I would not be surprised if I got some push back to think a little deeper about what I want to do or what I want to accomplish. Though, I think having very simple, well thought out goals is a better approach than having dozens of things I want to achieve.
We’ll have to wait and see, but at the end of the day I spent a full week looking at that damned form and there was nothing else I really wanted. Personally, I think that’s a good thing.