Questions to ask yourself before you start the next year as an academic

The end of the year conduces us to reflect on a passing year and to plan for the future. This is year is special for me as at the end of January 2020, I will finish my postdoc, and I have not quite decided what to do next. 

As I go through the process of deciding, I have gathered some questions which may help you to assess where you are with your career and help you decide what to do next. I thought I will share them here. You can choose which questions to answer and which ones to skip. But be careful though. The questions you have the most negative feelings about, may be the ones you need to answer the most. 

The first two sections should make you think where you are in your career, and where you would like to get in the future. The last section will get you to commit to some changes and show you a quick trick on how to make sure that you actually implement the changes in an upcoming year. Good luck!

Career planning

Where are you at the moment with your career?

How satisfied you are with where you are?

What is the coolest thing that could happen in the next 5 years in your career? (dream big)

What are you avoiding?

What are you afraid of?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

What do you want from my career? Is academia a place to get what you want?

Reflecting on the passing year

If you think about your work over the last year, what emotions do you feel?

What were the highlights of the last year?

What are you grateful for?

What goals did you not accomplish this year?

Are the things you have accomplished aligned with where you want to go with your career? If yes, which things/tasks/accomplishments exactly align? If not, what you should have focused on instead?

After reflecting on what you want from your career and how the passing year’s achievements aligned with these goals, you are now ready to plan for the next year. 

Thinking about the next year

What is the coolest thing that could happen next year?

What do you want to change in the next year? (make a list of for example the tasks you want to accomplish or skills you want to learn; at least 10 things)

From the list, choose one thing that would have the biggest impact on achieving what you want for yourself the next year. Let’s name it a “theme of the year”.  

What is your theme (or word) for the next year? Post in the comments below!

Now add 5 habits you can implement daily or weekly to get what you want.

The habits or routines are the most important, as only these will make sure that you will make progress towards your biggest goal. Of course, you can to it for all 10 things (or more) from your list, but from experience, I know that there is only that much we can really change within a year. It is better to change one thing that try and fail to change many. 

Good luck and all the best in a New 2020 Year!


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