Monday, March 06, 2006

A three year plan

That's what Dr. TassePlein called for. He started by saying: You know, most people prefer success; but really failure is much better for us. We learn a lot more from failing. It gives us room to move, to improve.

He said I needed to think about just what I was willing to take, and what my needs were at the moment. Then, he said, You've got quite a few good things going for you. You're living in a beautiful place. And you've got a spouse who has a good job, and can support you. So, you've got to figure out whether you could remain in that place for a while, while you beef up your academic credentials.

Hmmm. So I said, well, the answer is: Yes! We could stay here, indefinitely it would seem. My wife's job appears secure (at least for the next few years) and her income is enough to support us. So, yes.

Good, then. So what you need is a 3 year plan. Let's suppose I came up with the TassePlein-MacArthur $150,000 3-year fellowship. What are you going to do? Sorry, he explained, he can't really come up with the 6-figure award. But the point was well taken.

Hmmm. In discussing it later with my wife (who seemed actually quite pleased and excited about the prospect of keeping her job for a while, and the thought of not having to move again anytime soon), I said we should just consider her making about 60% of her income, and the rest is a fellowship for me. That way, we'll both feel better. She is an engineer. Just take a look at the salary differential, and you'll get what I mean.

The point he made was that I'm in a really good position to not have to take whatever comes along, and not having to lower my standards and expectations. The right job will come for me. My job is to make it more and more difficult for anyone to ignore my application. Since I'm not dependent upon making income for us to meet our expenses, then I can take this time as an opportunity. If I start thinking like I'm on fellowship, I can use this time to my advantage, and get a leg up on my career, and a head-start on tenure.

So, while I will continue to apply for jobs, and continue to pursue adjunct and other possibilities, it's best if I take the attitude that this is a part of my career, rather than feeling waylaid. Most importantly, as Dr. TassePlein explained about the next big project: I should aim to be in the middle of it when I start a job. That means getting going on it now.

I've really got two projects: one this longitudinal study, for which I'm doing a thorough literature review; the second, an ongoing analysis that follows up on some of my dissertation work, and involves the development of a new methodology for comparative work between my two main disciplines.

None of this is really new. I've been working towards these goals over the past few weeks. What's new is a renewed vigor, and a more stable attitude toward the task. I like the idea of a three-year plan (taking into account the hopeful outcome that I'll actually be employed during that time). And I like the idea of viewing my time as being on a fellowship.

Sure, ideally the fellowship would be funded other than by my wife. I can and will continue to apply for fellowships and grants along with the faculty applications. But those things I can't control. What I do with what I have I can!

6 comments:

BrightStar said...

This sounds like an excellent plan. You sounds so motivated!

ArticulateDad said...

B*, well... it sure beats wallowing in self-pity. I know. I've tried that. This is much more fun. ;)

trillwing said...

I agree with B*--this sounds like an excellent plan. I wish I had your energy (and that MY spouse had an engineer's income). :)

Good luck! You continue to be an inspiration to slacker me.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks, Trillwing,

I learned years ago in military academy... (Honest, I went to one for two years. And it wasn't in lieu of prison, I promise) ...I learned that the best way to get someone to act responsibly, is to give them responsibility.

Suddenly when others depend upon you, you feel an obligation to perform. So, get out the organ, I'm gonna grind.

academic coach said...

Wow. You have an awesome mentor. And I bet he writes great recommendations.

I think that it is difficult to stay on track with work when you are working in relative isolation. I would recommend hiring a coach to meet with at least occasionally. My own private practice is full, so this is not self-promotion, but I do know of three excellent coaches I could recommend.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks for the suggestion. Sure, email me your recommendations, and we'll see from there.