Happy New Year! And here we are in 2022, the third calendar year in which we are experiencing a global pandemic. The Omicron variant has moved the goalposts yet again, but excellent research has given us effective testing and vaccines to help us navigate our way through as best we might.
As usual at this time of year, the media is full of resolutions, diets, and gym memberships. Despite everything that’s going on, it seems we are expected to embark on a (short?) period of stringent self-improvement. If that works for you, then great – good luck! Personally, I find that January, with still only around 8 hours of daylight in Birmingham and the house full of left-over Christmas chocolate, is a terrible time to consider that type of thing. Instead, I prefer to focus on identifying some milestones (personal and professional) that I hope to achieve during the year.
A milestone is a major progress point on a route to success. It’s usually relatively substantial – it might take a decent amount of time or energy – and represents a step worth celebrating towards your overall goal. In a research context, a milestone might be completing a literature review, collecting the last of your data, or getting a thesis chapter signed off by your supervisor. In an ideal world, we might set out a project plan and timescale to achieve these milestones but to my mind, the start of January is for reflecting, choosing the most valuable milestones and laying the groundwork. Detailed project planning is best achieved at the time it’s most appropriate in the context of your project (at the start, when you’ve achieved a milestone, when things start to slip, and so on) rather than at a rather arbitrary change of the calendar.
Wishing you a healthy, productive and successful year in 2022.