o-new-years-resolutions-facebookHappy New Year to everyone from the Think Ahead Team!

New Year is the time when many of us make those New Year resolutions. We aspire to put things in place to be better versions of ourselves, be it to start that diet (…again!), do more exercise so sign up to a gym, stop drinking/smoking, save money…

Most of these resolutions don’t last long and people find themselves slipping into their old habits within a few weeks. However New Year is a good time to take stock and think how 2016 went for you and what you’d like to happen in 2017. So here are a few suggestions of things you might want to make your new year, new you goals…

  1. Make time for yourself and your wellbeing:

Life as a researcher can get intense at times consuming all our waking (and sometimes sleeping) hours so it’s really important to make sure you take regular breaks and find a way to relax. Over the last year, the Think Ahead team have been organising regular wellbeing sessions to encourage you to take some time out from your research. One of the more popular events in 2016 were the monthly Knitting and Crochet sessions. wellbeing-collage

Myself and Eunice Lawton run the lunchtime sessions where anyone from accomplished to total beginners come together to make hats and blankets for the premature baby unit (inspired by the Big Knit). We recently delivered all the fantastic items people have created over the past months to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where they were greatly received.

If knitting isn’t your thing, what about paper craft? We had lots of Xmassy fun in December together and have another coming up in February.

sennerger-learning-model2 Challenge Yourself:

Senninger’s Learning Zone model suggested we learn best when we challenge ourselves to leave our comfort zone (where we are comfortable, not taking any risks, a cosy safe haven) and move into our stretch zone outside of our secure environment. Only here can we learn, grow and make new discoveries which will in turn expand our comfort zone.

Without leaping into the panic zone, where learning is blocked by a sense of fear, what would be a stretch for you in 2017? How about;

  • Organising a new conference or creating a new network of researchers? Have a read at this recently published article from a researcher who did just that. It’s a fantastic example of postgraduate researchers starting with an idea and then ending up with an international conference and a Nature article!
  • Find new ways to communicate your research. What about trying to communicate your research in 3 minutes? We have the 3 Minute Thesis competition to help develop your skills soon to be launched for 2017 (see here for 2015 information). Or maybe you want to challenge yourself to engage the public with your research and get some funding for it.
  • Gain some teaching experience. Whether it’s gaining recognition for all the students you supervise in the lab, finding opportunities to teach modules on a Masters course or even teaching school children about your research through the Brilliant Club. There are loads of different ways to get experience and way not take it a step further and get that teaching recognised with the higher education academy?

‘If you want to feel secure
Do what you already know how to do.
But if you want to grow…
Go to the cutting edge of your competence,
Which means a temporary loss of security.
So, whenever you don’t quite know what you are doing
Know that you are growing…’
(Viscott, 2003)

  1. happiness-jarBe thankful for what you do have:

Maybe a new goal, rather than doing something new is actually to ensure you take more time to notice and be grateful for things already in your life. This year I’ve started a ‘Things to be thankful for’ jar with my family. Every day one of us writes down on a scrap of paper something that made us happy or we were grateful for and pops it in the jar. At the end of 2017, rather than feeling sad about Xmas being over, or all the things we should be doing in the new year, we can sit down together and open our happiness jar and read about the fantastic year we’ve had together.

What better way to start a new year!

 

Post it note image Credit

Learning zone Image Credit

Happiness Jar Image Credit