I forced myself not to plan anything for this past weekend and it left me twitchy. I spent much of the weekend feeling like I was supposed to be doing something, but unsure of what. It has been SIX YEARS since I have lived life without some big, overarching GOAL. On the one hand, I have accomplished something that only a very small percentage of the population ever accomplishes; I graduated. (My transcript even shows my PhD now.) On the other hand, I don’t have the traditional academic career path, so I am not currently preoccupied with finding my first professional position. I have a professional position (and have had for nearly 20 years). I have an academic position teaching at a local community college. I’m not really searching for anything.
In some ways, it’s as though I am mourning my loss; having a big goal gave me a purpose, and for all that it was periodically painfully stressful it also provided some structure and context to my life. It’s not like there aren’t things I need to be doing now:
- Revise stats class for next semester, including reviewing homework that didn’t work this year
- Convert psych 101 class to an online format for next semester
- Turn my dissertation into a journal article
- Learn enough about missing data analysis techniques to determine whether I can use them to fill in some of the problematic blanks in my dissertation and get another article out of that
- Renovate my master bathroom (paint cabinets, replace countertop with tiled countertop and vessel sinks, tile shower)
- Renovate my guest bathroom (paint cabinets, replace countertop)
- Paint master bedroom
- Re-paint living room and probably kitchen
None of those are short projects. Yet none have the overarching purpose that finishing the PhD had.
Maybe that’s good. I appear to need to learn how to live in-the-moment rather than constantly focused on the future. Perhaps that’s the answer to the question: Learning how to be happy with now instead of always looking forward. That would be a new experience.