In November, I attended the Vitae Research Staff Development Conference, which this year had the focus of ‘recognition and value’. There were many nuggets of wisdom shared but for the purposes of this post, I am going to ponder the pendulum that swings between value we take from the perception of us by others and the value we give to ourselves.

Nathaniel Branden, author of “The Six Pillars of Self Esteem”, states on his website;
“To achieve a healthy level of self-esteem, you must be able to accept who you are and be confident about your decisions and behavior. But there is another important ingredient in the development of self-esteem that is often overlooked, the ability to take responsibility for your future. To live self-responsibly, you must be able to influence your behavior freely in three major areas:

  • Taking action in ways that will help you reach your goals.
  • Being accountable for your decisions, priorities and actions.
  • Thinking for yourself by examining and actively choosing the values that will guide yourself, rather than blindly accepting whatever you’re told by family, friends or the culture in which you live.”

Just one perspective, I accept but it really got me thinking about how we as individuals must do all we can to be the masters or mistresses of our own future, no matter how much the near environment might discourage us to do so.

Bearing the above in mind, if you had to rate your career development or future planning on a scale of 1 to 10, where do land between being governed by someone else’s goals and/or expectations and setting your own markers for success?

Reflection
Knowing where to start can be the biggest challenge as we do not always know what questions to ask ourselves or where to begin to change our perception or the external culture. Mind Tools website has a ‘Self Motivation Quiz’ that is a really useful starting point that can get us all thinking!

On a wider note, Vitae are currently undertaking a research project entitled “What Do Research Staff Do Next?” exploring where researchers go in their varied careers as well as, “researchers’ reflections of their professional and career development needs while in higher education, in the context of their current employment”. Early data from 600 respondents has suggested that there is a need for change in both how developing researchers’ status is viewed by others but more importantly, the personal perception of status.