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Researcher Resolutions 2016

Well… 2015 threw us some curve balls, that’s for sure. Which saw us develop agility and flexibility as researchers (and people) in the face of constant change. We still managed to tick off several key professional and personal KPIs (https://thehealthresearchjourney.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/2015-the-year-that-was/).

As researchers we always like to have something measurable in place so this planning provided an evidence-base for some academic tasks which at times can make you feel like banging your head against a wall (i.e. navigating journal submission systems, hoop jumping in the form of meeting grant specifications, and increasing administration tasks which go hand in hand with contemporary teaching roles).

Given the changes in the 2016 year and as blog collaborators not in the same office, the coming 12 months promises some unique but exciting opportunities. You’ll notice several of these involve working together across tasks… and that’s because (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140824235337-22330283-the-three-qualities-of-people-i-most-enjoy-working-with ).

collaboration picture

But we digress… Writing down things we’d like to achieve and then reflecting on these proved very satisfying. So we are doing it again!

  1. Write, find, inspire some useful resources for health research
  2. Guest bloggers – let’s grow this space (AD, CB, IP, LS…)
  3. Joint paper (at least one submitted this year)
  4. Joint project planned
  5. Virtual whiteboard -our attempt to keep connected #watchthisspace
  6. Regular M&M catch ups (some for study, some for op-shopping, some for futures planning!) and more celebrations of achievements together
  7. PNI research hub (let’s dream big!)
  8. Keep working on saying no, but also saying yes
  9. Learn from conflict (try not to run away and hide from it) #Eureka
  10. Be proud of being a multipotentialite – What do you want to do when you grow up? Lots of different things!
  11. Be confident in what we have to offer
  12. Play more across work and life #worklifebalance



Each of us has some additional goals…

JOB would like to:

  • Meet all core assessment and competencies for Masters Health Psychology coursework
  • Work part-time in family business successfully #lifeofachambermaid #multipotentialite
  • Submit my nemesis paper – an RCT vitamin study for stressed women
  • Maintain research connections for future research as a Scientist-Practitioner
  • Be present. Be patient. Be persistent.

LB would like to:

  • Submit 5 current low hanging fruit papers (and have at least 3 of them get accepted)
  • Get some policy experience (maybe by embracing opportunities offered by being a member of different professional associations)
  • Follow through
  • Stop checking emails after hours
  • Be brave and step out of the comfort zone



2015 The year that was

What we achieved

In 2015 our Health Research Journey goals were to:

• Take our lessons from 2014’s grant and mould this proposal into brilliance worthy of category 1 funding
Done! (still haven’t heard how we went though, apparently ‘announcement in October’ is code for ‘we’ll let you know sometime in January…’)

• Have four papers accepted for publication
Done! With a few more currently under review 🙂

• Create an ECR network mailing list
Change of plan (oops!) – we focused on social media instead 😮

• Attend an international conference
Done! (It was in Melbourne, last week we squeezed it in, but it was still an international conference) 🙂

• Invite guest bloggers to post on their experiences of the journey
Invited – yes, received – not yet

• Get better at saying No – being strategic
Work in progress (https://thehealthresearchjourney.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/just-say-no/) but we are much improved

• Reward big but also small steps towards goals
Sort of done, though our rewards chart (https://thehealthresearchjourney.wordpress.com/2015/06/12/research-rewards-and-relapse-prevention/) slipped off the radar as we got busier

• Fail fast – it’s difficult to receive criticism and review of our work BUT if we are able to consider, take on and produce something better as a result then we can reap the rewards
Another work in progress, we are constantly developing ways how to do this but have certainly learnt a lot this year

• Attend a minimum of three lunchtime pilates/yoga classes per week
Not done. We moved offices this year which made it harder for this to be possible – we are sorry we didn’t achieve this one 😦

• Leave work at work
Sort of done. We might not have taken documents home but we took emotions home this year (Note to self: heart on sleeve not on research project). However, we have had lots of chats about work/life balance and what’s important and have tried hard to focus on these things instead

• Leave work before 6pm
Mostly done! 🙂

• Make a social life out of academia (can it be done?!)
We had some great times at conference dinners and some awesome officemate excursions and we have grown our network of people we enjoy working and hanging out with! And identified those we don’t :-/

• Be mindful of what tasks we do have control over and be careful not to overload, where possible do one task at a time and appreciate the process
Fail! But we’ve discovered we are multipotentialites (http://www.ted.com/talks/emilie_wapnick_why_some_of_us_don_t_have_one_true_calling) so doing one task at a time is just…well…boring! We will continue to practice mindfulness where possible though.


What comes next

Well, what comes next looks a whole lot different than we might have thought a few months ago. 2016 will see our partnership change – we will no longer be officemates but instead be cross-sectoral collaborators. Jodie is following her dream and going back to uni to study to be a clinical health psychologist #biggestversionsofourselves. Lynsey’s current role has been extended for six months but when that door closes she is not sure what the next door will open into #hellouniversewhatdoyouhaveinstore. We are sad that this chapter is ending but are excited about the possibilities that next year holds! Times of change are full of opportunities #someonewisetoldus



Christmas traditions

This year we had a two-part grey-fitti as we moved offices in May: two offices, two whiteboards. This has led to a Christmas wordle spectacular… thanks Tagxedo!

Just say NO

Sounds easy…right? Well it’s not! Every time we attempt to write this piece we can’t because we are not quite sure that we have mastered the art of Just Say No #JSNO.

Saying no, learning, mastering and implementing saying no is often hard work. That is because it’s both powerful and important. It can lead to hard conversations and strong emotions.

But there are only so many hours in a day – how do we decide what to fit in and which big rocks need to come out of the beaker? (http://www.worklifecoach.com/Big_Rocks.pdf) And how do we decide which rocks we can fit in – and want to fit in. You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do (https://gretchenrubin.com/happiness_project/2013/01/secret-of-adulthood-you-can-choose-what-you-do-but-you-cant-choose-what-you-like-to-do/). It’s important to find the things that make you happy and find a way to do as much of them as possible.

mentor channel lists

But it is also important to consider the implications of our decisions. Sometimes we feel like we can’t say no because we’re trying to keep the boss happy or make the most of opportunities that might lead us somewhere exciting but our time and attention are valuable resources and need to be wisely spent.

As ECRs we are often presented with a raft of tasks to work on, some optional, others not so. There are a range of responses to try when faced with this situation:
• Just got to check with my therapist whether I can work on this with you
• That sounds great but could you email me some more information about it
• I’d rather stick a pen in my eye than do that
• (The handball: Get your supervisor to say no) I’ll need to check the work program/current team commitments
• Not sure I’ve got time to fit this in to current workload
• I’ll get back to you…

It is also important to listen to your gut – sometimes the idea of working on particular tasks has a really strong physiological response.

vomit TMOL

So it’s important to trust your instincts, think about how you would go working with this person/on this task (in the short and long term) and whether you have the stomach (and emotional energy) to say yes. Sometimes the bigger picture is reward enough, sometimes it’s not.

There are also occasions in which saying no can make us feel this bleurgh as well. Some good pieces of advice that we’ve received in the past for dealing with these potentially tricky conversations:
• Delay (thanks Hugh Kearns and Maria Gardiner http://www.ithinkwell.com.au/). When your head is screaming no but your mouth is likely to say yes – instead say, thanks for the opportunity, I’m just in the middle of something/need to check my diary – I’ll get back to you. It’s like counting to 10.
• Think about what you’ll need to give up in order to add this new task in.
• Do something only once. If you’re thinking about saying yes to an activity that you’ve already done many times before and won’t help with your career progression or your sanity levels then say no and say yes to trying something new instead.

If you’re prone to putting your hand up for things but finding it’s not helpful to life/work/career progression we suggest you:
• Minimise eye contact
• Sit on your hands
• Take detailed notes about the situation and feelings on an iPad – makes for excellent reading after the event and can clarify the decision making process. Is it the task? Is it the team? Is it the commitment?
• Go for a walk
• Phone a friend for advice.

Sometimes the universe delivers the thing you’ve been searching for and sometimes it is important to say yes but make sure it is yes to something that is important to you.

Have you found yourself in a situation of needing to say no? How did you go about it? How did it make you feel?

New Year’s Resolutions of a Health Researcher

As we pulled out the new diaries, organised our streamlined shelves and sat in our brand new office/lounge chairs, we reflected on the year past and pondered about the future.


In 2014 our Health Research Journey goals were to:
• Submit a grant application (done – the fact that it was unsuccessful is a minor, insignificant detail!)
• Submit some manuscripts (done)
• Start our professional organisation thinking about the needs of ECRs (done)
• Create a blog (done!)

In 2015 our Health Research Journey goals are to:
• Take our lessons from 2014’s grant and mould this proposal into brilliance worthy of category 1 funding
• Have four papers accepted for publication
• Create an ECR network mailing list
• Attend an international conference
• Invite guest bloggers to post on their experiences of the journey.

Of course we resolve to publish more papers, write successful grant applications and take over the world but in order to make these less daunting and more likely to be achieved let’s make these SMART goals.

S- specific
M- measurable
A- achievable
R- realistic
T- timely


For example… the goal is to submit a manuscript on integrated primary health care at the meso level (specific) by the 30th of January (measurable) that has been drafted based on a past project (achievable) and has been seen by all co-authors, reviewed by a senior colleague and formatted according to the journal’s requirements (realistic) and is relevant to the current Australian primary health care reforms (timely).


We also have some personal development resolutions this year:
• Get better at saying No- being strategic
• Reward big but also small steps towards goals
• Fail fast- it’s difficult to receive criticism and review of our work BUT if we are able to consider, take on and produce something better as a result then we can reap the rewards.

Other important things to consider: What’s good for you is generally good for your career. Additional resolutions therefore include:
• Attend a minimum of three lunchtime pilates/yoga classes per week
• Leave work at work
• Leave work before 6pm
• Make a social life out of academia (can it be done?!)
• Be mindful of what tasks we do have control over and be careful not to overload, where possible do one task at a time and appreciate the process.


What are your goals and resolutions for 2015?