In the southern hemisphere the new calendar year coincides with the anticipation of a new academic year. Having been back at work for a week I find myself gearing up for the start of another year. Part of that gearing up is thinking about my goals and desires for the year ahead. At the start of my fifth year as an academic I am beginning to be a little more realistic about what is actually achievable within a year.
I find myself considering some of the questions which drive me. What are the things that I will regret if another year goes by without some substantial progress? What are the things that ‘count’ in terms of the university? What are the things I am excited about? What are things that I am dreading?
With all of these thoughts, it is easy to get swept up in a current of ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’. And yet, when I pause and look at those around me who are facing major challenges I realise that it is important to appreciate the gift of each day.
There is a tension between those two things – because if I do not pay attention to the bigger goals I know I will be disappointed with what I have achieved. And yet, the contemplation of those goals and the attempt to achieve them, can take me away from living in the moment.
I don’t believe the answer lies in choosing which one to emphasize, but rather in finding a way to hold both. So that I am truly able to celebrate each day. Not simply because it has brought me one step closer to a bigger goal, but because I was able to be present to those I encountered.
It is a daily challenge – and most things worth achieving take both time and effort. At the same time I am firm believer in the importance of celebrating the small things.
Hopefully somewhere in the midst of all of this I will find life.