Work Matters

I haven’t said much on here lately.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and I haven’t been 100% sure it’s been the right sort of thinking for this blog.

It’s the usual story- the infertility blog that became a pregnancy/parenting blog but was still really an infertility blog so long as we were trying to expand our family.

And now we’re not, and this space feels funny whenever I try to think about branching out. But at the same time, starting a different blog feels even stranger.

This is my space.

This is my (online) home.

So I’m going to try to make myself comfortable in it again.


At the start of January I took out a notebook and started writing to-do lists.

I wrote down everything I could think of that was currently taking up time and energy in my brain. House things. E.-related things. Work-related things. Health. Travel.

Then I started twelve pages of lists in my notebook, one for each month, and started assigning things to each month.

This maybe sounds odd, given I’ve written on here that this is supposed to be a year of exploration for me.

To-do lists and regimented schedules aren’t exactly conducive to exploring freely.

It was an anxiety management strategy.

I was getting overwhelmed at all the things I needed to do to be able to work my way towards finding a job.

I needed to convert my CV into a resume.

I needed to join some professional networking sites.

I needed to e-mail some people and set up informational interviews.

I needed to take notes on some books I had read.

I needed to build a website.

Etc., etc.

The problem was, even though I had said (and thought I believed) that I wanted to find a job by September, my brain thought I had to do ALL of the groundwork by the middle of January.

So making the lists was a conscious way of slowing down the process. I put the CV into resume job (a big job) into February. I put the building a website into April. I slowed things down, and over the course of January I checked off almost everything I wanted to do. Things got a little derailed when I found a perfect contract job, because applying for it ate a whole bunch of time I could have used on other things, and then my energy was spent being nervous about whether or not I’d get the job.

Not only did I not get the job, but I didn’t even get an interview for the job.

That was humbling.

But then I reminded myself that I wasn’t even planning to have a job right now, and I moved on.


I think I have to rewrite February’s list because I recently met with my supervisor and he wants me to send the dissertation out as a book manuscript ASAP and doesn’t think I should “tinker” much with it. He’s already touched base with an editor he knows at one of the two most prestigious press houses in our field, so I really need to get the manuscript to the editor by the end of this month.

And that is a choice that will have consequences, because if I’m spending my time on dissertation revisions (even minor ones), then I’m not checking off the February items on my list.

Ultimately, it boils down to this: if I want to apply for a post-doc in the fall, and have any chance at getting one, I need the book at minimum to be out with a publisher and with two positive reader reports. The ideal would be to have a book contract. That means I have to get the book to the editor in enough time to get the reader reports back well before the application deadline, hence the rush right now.

But then there’s a big part of me that’s wondering whether I should even bother with the post-doc, because if I’m not going to get a tenure-stream academic job, doing a post-doc will just lead to me facing in a couple of years the exact same questions I’m facing now. Maybe I should be using those years to figure out what I want to do and developing the skills I need to be competitive at getting my dream job.

But then again, the post-doc would be flexible hours and OK money and I could stay in the ivory tower for a bit longer.

Q. is up for sabbatical the 2018-19 academic year.

We want to spend that year in Australia.

The post-doc would run right up to May 2018. I could finish it, go to Australia, and then figure things out afterwards.

I’m not at all sure what I want, but I’m trying not to close doors right now, so “get dissertation to publisher” has moved up the priority list for the month and all the job-related things are on hold. Except for my daily e-mails of keyword search results from a job aggregate site. If a perfect job comes up, I’ll still apply for it.

And in March I’ll turn back to my checklists.


I am REALLY struggling with not having an income.

It would be very hard for me to rectify this at the moment, given I’m at home with E. almost all the time, and will be home with him all the time once his nursery school closes for the summer.

It makes sense to not get a job before September, and we are doing OK financially. Not saving much, but we are good savers normally, and the rational part of my brain knows that this year will be a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things.

It makes me very anxious.

It stresses Q. out too.

I am looking for jobs (like the one I applied for) that would allow me to mostly work from home.

I should be treasuring these last few months with E., and I am, but the loss of any financial independence is casting a larger shadow on our time together than I thought it would.


I want, very much, to be able to pick my son up at the end of the school day.

I want, very much, to do work that I enjoy, that pays me well for the time I put in, that challenges my brain.

I have made some progress over the last couple of weeks thinking about what kind of work I want to do and (just as important) what kind of work I don’t want to do.

I haven’t made any sort of progress on the issue of how one reconciles those two competing, contradictory, seemingly incompatible wants I listed above.

I know I want to do Good Work.

Right now, I feel like E. is my Good Work.

But, on his own, he’s not going to be enough in the end.

I just haven’t figured out what will be.



Filed under A (Good) Day's Work, Life after the PhD, Who am I really? (Career Angst)

3 responses to “Work Matters

  1. That sounds like life… *hugs* I do hope your lists help you and you are able to find a balance that works for you all. And welcome back to your blog. I hope you stick around longer this time. 😉

  2. I said it in my last post, and I’ll say it again now, because it is so relevant- we can have it all, just not all at once. Reconciliation is tough, because as parents, it will always involve some sort of sacrifice- and inevitably, it is our personal goals that take a back seat. It is so much tougher than I ever thought it would be. So I totally feel your pain.

    I think you are smart to keep all your doors open until it becomes obvious that it’s time to close one of them. But keeping so many balls in the air can be stressful, and I really hope you’re taking good care of yourself- getting lots of rest, eating well, and slipping in a tiny bit of exercise (whenever possible). You won’t be any good to anyone if you aren’t healthy- both mentally and physically.

    I’m so glad you’re back (I was starting to worry!), and I’m sending you lots of love. I’ve become very relaxed about my life lately, and I truly do believe that things will unfold as they were meant to. Hugs!

  3. I love this idea of assigning tasks to a month! I will be stealing it! And I certainly hope you find what you are looking for’

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