Provost’s Office

The Week Ahead: September 14 - 17, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

Thanks for coming back for entry two of “The Blog” (Marketing is working on it). I don’t know about you, but my New Year’s Resolutions never happen in January. Every August I promise that this will be the year that I get all my ducks in a row, find that elusive balance between teaching, scholarship, service, and—oh yeah, a life. We’re in week three, and as you might imagine, the New-Semester-Resolution equivalent of “Just one cookie won’t hurt” is creeping into my resolve.

In Pursuit of The Perfect Professor

The bane of our existence. That feeling that just one more new course, or scholarly achievement, or committee might be all that’s standing between where we are and where we want to be. Let’s face it, we’re all a bunch of goal-driven, over-achievers; if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be here. But as important as continued growth and progress are in our professional and personal lives, sometimes we need to step back and ask if more really is better.

A Pox on Overcommitment

We’ve all come through what has arguably been the toughest eighteen months we’ve ever faced. And just when we thought it might be safe to go back in the water, the tides shifted, and we’re rallying again to do our best in the classroom, and in the lab or the library, and in our departments, and on our committees, and in supporting our students, and mentoring our advisees, and …, and …, and…. All too often, we get so caught up in what we’re trying to do for everyone else that we forget what we must do for ourselves. It’s easy to forget that saying “no” on occasion leaves space to honor our “yeses.”

“You Can Have It All, Just Not All at Once.”

Wisdom from a former colleague who raised a family, was a highly respected teacher and colleague, and earned recognition in her field. We all want to be awesome at what we do. And as I enter my nineth (and final) year on FPC, I can tell you that there is a LOT of awesomeness on this campus. I can also tell you that it’s not a contest and that the goal isn’t to be the “awesomest” at everything, all the time. Sometimes, good enough is good enough, at least for this thing while I’m focusing on that thing. As academics, it’s not unusual for different facets of our work to ebb and flow along the continuum of our priorities. Recognizing those shifts, and the fact that there’s no one-right-way to achieve our goals can help us avoid swimming against the tide.

A Challenge and A Promise

So, three weeks into the semester, I’m recommitting to my annual resolution to be selective in my commitments, to recognize when perfect becomes the enemy of good—or finished, and to give myself the grace that I’m happy to extend to others. I challenge you to do the same, and promise that we’ll all still be awesome.

This Week’s Friday Forum

If you’re interested in more conversation and shared strategies to avoid feeling perpetually overextended, please join me this week for an outdoor Friday Forum: “You Can Have Balance and Sanity, And Still Be Awesome at Your Job.” We’ll meet in the big, white tent on the Heritage Center lawn. Snacks and beverages will be provided by the Andison Center for Teaching Excellence.

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