I have been experiencing a fair amount of resistance toward my daily academic writing since school got out. I'm tired, I feel that I deserve a break, and all the aspects of life that were ignored during the semester suddenly demand attention (including packing the house and moving across country for the summer). Basically, I have a bad case of the I don't wannas.
Summer is also the time of the academic's hopes and dreams, what we wait for all semester so that we can finally get ____ (article, story, book, grant, whatever) done.
Ironically, I think the opportunity to finally get done the things we didn't all year turns into pressure, which turns into the I don't wannas.
As I pack up the house, and decide what books are coming with me on the summer road trip, I've been thinking a little about my summer goals and how to turn the don't wannas into wannas.
As part of this process, I've been listening to Kerry Ann Rockquemore's workshop "Every Semester Needs a Plan" (http://www.facultydiversity.org/general/custom.asp?page=About_Us). In the workshop, she talks about making SMART goals, which stands for Specific Measurable Attractive Realistic Time Frame. In her acronym, the A is shifted from it's usual meaning in the management world, where it means attainable/achievable.
The idea of making goals attractive should remind us of how much power we have to determine how we think about the tasks that make up our lives.
Our brains are pretty smart, but they are pretty dumb, too. And they can be tricked by using mantras or the techniques of behavioral and positive psychology. For example. Tal Ben-Shahar writes in Happier about the importance of shifting "I have to" to "I get to." For me, this means switching from " I have to finish this book this summer so that I can get tenure" (NOT an attractive goal!) to I get to revise the last two chapters and submit my book manuscript this summer (maybe not super-attractive, but a move in the right direction.
Additionally, making goals playful might also improve attitudes. I know I want to practice yoga this summer--I have set up an arbitrary goal of 40 practices over 2 months, but I'm deciding to turn this into something more fun. My new yoga goal is to be able to do a forearm balance by my 33rd birthday--fun, right? For an example from writing life, I could make part of my summery book goal include something speculative and fun, such as "decide if I want to make the throughline about turn-of-the-century racism explicit," a goal I might pursue by way of some freewriting.
How else might we bring fun to our summer goals?
Get a Life, PhD
The Professor is In
The Thesis Whisperer
Tenure, She Wrote