I know from experience and logical reasoning that December is a tricky month because of the “busyness” of the end of term, the school holidays, the festivities, and, of course, the many little things that life always has a way of throwing at you. This time, child 2 fractured a finger which meant spending 4 hours in A&E in the penultimate day of school (plus follow up appointments); and got tonsillitis on the last day of school. There were kid drop-offs and pick-ups. And there were vaccination boosters, which knocked me out for about 24 hours.
Despite knowing this, and despite planning for a paired down December, I still managed to schedule more than I could handle. Cue anxiety and frustration when, inevitably, the wheels started spinning, and I couldn’t tick off all the items on my to do list, like those 15 writing sessions I had planned for. I think I need to write a note for my future self, reminding me to half my to do list, and then half it again!
The month actually started with a research away day for the marketing group, organised by my colleague Sharifah Alwi. It was the first time that we were all (well, almost, all) in the same room, again, since March 2020, and… it was great! It was an opportunity to learn about the work being done by colleagues, discuss how best to promote our group’s work, share experiences of balancing the many demands of our work, and hear about successful grant applications. My colleagues also gave me some beautiful flowers, a box of chocolates, and a card with lovely messages about my time as a divisional lead. It was a great way to end the year – my colleague Sharifah chose a great location, the food was delicious, and I returned home inspired!
This month, I also worked on two grant ideas, and pushed with data collection for three projects. Oh, and I delivered a research seminar at Oxford Brookes University.
As for writing, I worked on a paper related to the Gender and Money project. I also worked on revisions for two papers, both due in early January.
In terms of teaching, I held various extended office hours, to help students working on their reports for the Services Marketing module. Moreover, I held extended discussions with a student working on their PhD. I also interviewed a potential PhD student but ended up not making an offer.
At a personal level, I spent some time reflecting on the year that is ending, assessing the extent to which I had met my goals for this year, and identifying what helped vs detracted me from meeting some targets.
There is no denying that 2021 was a challenging year. There was a lot of sadness for people close to me, and some disappointment at a personal level. But there is also lots to be grateful for – vaccination, for instance, which allowed me to be with my parents, indoors, again!
Now, I will turn my attention to the next 12 months. Yes, December is a purely arbitrary date to take stock of life and to set goals. But it’s as good a date as any other. And, I, for one, embrace the tradition of spending some time choosing a theme / word for 2022, and setting some goals. I find that this helps me focus my energy, and fill more fulfilled.
I wish you a wonderful 2022 – free from fear, and full of social warmth.