In my opinion, I have already written (rather obliquely) about the wisest decision I made this year. About a year ago, I was told I needed to do what was best for my career. I thought I was doing that, but that comment, and the context in which it was made, pushed me to rethink what was best for my career. I'm forty-one. If things go well, I could work for the next thirty years or close to it. I do not want to waste those decades.
But what did I actually do? I talked to people I trusted about options. I spoke up about some things more and some things less. I began conceptualizing a book that I am actually going to attempt to write, knowing that the book may not happen but a few articles will, and my teaching will be better just from the research alone. I started doing things with a stronger sense of purpose. Usually, I would apply for some grants, workshops, or programs just because they sounded like fun, and I knew it would be cool to do if it could happen. Now, I'm thinking a bit more linearly. I am careful not to be too narrow-minded, but I do have a stronger sense of purpose than I have ever had before. I'm willing to take some risks. At dinner tonight, the husband and I were talking about a grant application I'm writing that will enable me to travel to a country where I don't even know the language but would be able to do some research. I actually have a list of grants and fellowships and such, and I'll be applying for them all. But if I get none of them? I can still move forward on all the projects I have in mind. I think that's why I feel so positive about some of the choices I have made in the last few months: I can see completing them under a variety of circumstances.
Obviously, I don't know if I've made the best decisions, yet. But I am really happy with where I am right now. The husband thinks I am really onto something. Other people who know me have been supportive and encouraging. Some people have even said they think I'm "finally" making the right choices. I have some endpoints in mind, but I'm making sure the journey is worth it, too.