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Evaluation of my goals for 2014

At the beginning of 2014, I wrote quite an ambitious list of goals for 2014. Since I shared this list publicly, I wanted to take a moment to discuss what happened to all these goals. Somewhere in April, I already tweeted that I replaced this entire list by the simple goal of surviving the semester without passing out under a pile of homeworks-to-be-graded.

Things changed this year, life is fluid – but let’s see how I did:

My academic goals for 2014 are the following:
– try a month of writing daily from 6am to 8am

Didn’t happen. I ended up going to the gym in the early morning, and never did the writing-in-the-morning experiment. Maybe I’ll try this out in 2015.

– start up a laboratory at the university where I’m currently employed

Yes! It’s up and running in its very first stage, and we had the official opening celebration in November. The space is temporary and too small, but the lab is running great with 2 parallels of the Construction Materials Lab class that I was teaching in the Fall, thesis projects, a research project, students who are preparing for the national concrete competition, and we will also host said competition at our institution. We’re on a roll!

– get involved in a bridge design project

Yes! Get prepared for pictures of this bridge as it gets built next year.

– teach awesome courses to my students

Leave out the awesome, and that’s what I did: 3 courses per semester, 4 new courses this year. It’s a LOT of work *__*.

– organize a science communication course

I made the syllabus, got everybody enthusiastic…. and then the authorities realized they needed me to teach civil engineering courses, because we are too few professors.

– graduate 4 thesis students

I have 1 student officially registered this Fall semester, and a few people getting ready to graduate under my supervision, but this plan has been slower than I thought.

– write a grant proposal

Didn’t happen – I need to do this in 2015. I’ve been surfing on Delft projects, and joining projects that were thrown at me because of m knowledge, but I have been more in a reactive than in active mode in that regard.

– submit at least 6 journal papers for review (priority number 1!)

I submitted 6 new papers (2 of which got accepted in the mean time), worked on reviews of 4 papers submitted in 2013 (2 of which got accepted in the mean time). I have more papers to write about my dissertation work, and after that about the research projects I did last summer.

– learn Spanish

I didn’t take an official course, I didn’t work through the books I bought – but I understand what people say, and sometimes I speak a bit.

Overall: Even though I steered away from some goals, I think it’s been an interesting year. My focus shifted from purely research to teaching, research, outreach and more, and I had to make quite some course correction this year to fit everything in. It’s been a learning process, and given the fact that I’m adjusting and learning all this, I think it is sort of OK how I’ve been doing.

My health/personal goals for 2014 are the following:
– get back onto the FLO living protocol for eating and time management

Postponed to 2015….

– try a month of going to the gym daily at 6am

Yes – I’ve been pretty much doing this the entire Fall semester. 6am yoga classes, 6:15am weight lifting – I’ve been in the gym early most days. But sometimes I am tired.

– eat vegan for a month

I joined the Vegan Challenge in April, and felt amazing – so I’ve kept eating a “95% plant-based diet”. I occasionally eat eggs when I travel when there are no other options. I’m moving away from animal-based clothing, products and all that, and replacing all my toiletries by cruelty-free versions.

– revisit the Silva course

Didn’t happen, postponed to 2015.

– find friends in my new city Quito

Working on it (and as an introvert, I’m not too good at this): I am playing in a band, taking yoga classes, started a meetup group (and closed it again, but am working on finding a tribe in a different way at the moment), get along well with some of my colleagues, and hang out with my sister-in-law every now and then. But when shit hits the fan, I call my mom or friends at home, because they are really close to me, and I don’t easily find people like them.

– give up refined sugar for 40 days

I’m a chocolate junkie. I eat an entire bar of chocolate a day, or more. I’ll try this in 2015, but I’m scared I’ll be super cranky.

– buy an apartment

Not yet – I need to be working for a year in the country, registered in social security (which I only have since January) to apply for a loan. Plus the 30% down payment they require here is a little unpleasant. And housing is surprisingly expensive here.

– exercise daily

Maximum 6 days out of 7, because I need a rest day once a week. But yes, since March, I’ve joined a gym, and I’ve been going strong.

– meditate daily

I used to meditate first thing in the morning, but that doesn’t happen if I need to wake up at 5:30 am to take a class in the gym at 6 am… Other options would be to meditate before I sleep (but I always get to bed too late, especially if I want to wake up at 5:30 am the next day to go to the gym), or right when I come home from work (which would be a great way to change gears in my mind, but somehow, there’s always a hungry cat, dirty litter box, mess in the kitchen or what not waiting for me when I enter the house…).

– journal daily

Moderate success: not daily, but I’ve been consistently journaling. I had a block in my heart and writing for a few months when my dad passed away at the end of August.

– read 60 books

I’m writing this post on the last day of November, and so far I’ve read 91 books this year. Maybe I’ll make it to 100 books.

And for PhD Talk, I’d like to do the following:
– transform PhD Talk
– write a book
– teach a social media workshop
– write 10 guest posts for other blogs

None of this happened – with changing jobs, adjusting to Ecuador and all that, I decided I’d put my plans with PhD Talk in the fridge in the mean time.

And a few fun activities that I want to do:
– go hike in a national park

Best hike I did: hiking down to Papallacta from La Virgen, through the national park of Coca-Cayambe.

– run a race

Didn’t happen… hopefully in 2015!

– play more music

Yes – I booked a seat for Mr. Cello Lantsoght on my flight from Brussels to Quito last summer, joined a band, and I’ve even started to study some new sheet music (something I haven’t done in the last 10 years…).

– go horseriding in nature

Yes, although they kept the horse guided – so no “real” horseriding yet.

– volunteer a couple of days on an organic farm and forest-keeping project

No, that will be for 2015… I got sick so often in 2014 (salmonella and other food-borne diseases) that I shooed away from going to the Amazon rainforest until I can stomach tap water in the highlands.

– get involved with the local TEDx community

TEDxQuito took place while I was in Europe, so I didn’t volunteer for the event.

– write a bundle of poems and publish them

Not a single poem… postponed to 2015!

– go for a singing weekend

No, I can’t find anything like that in Ecuador – so I’m hoping to join one in Europe during the summer.

– study an NLP course

I started a self-study course, but didn’t get any further than 1 video.

– climb the Cotopaxi volcano

I visited the volcano, but I still get dizzy before even reaching the refugio on the volcano from which the real climbers depart on their trek to the top.

– attend a meditation workshop

Postponed to 2015…

– do one handscraft project

I made candles with my sister-in-law a couple of times, and it was fun!

– go on a yoga weekend

I joined the Ecuador yoga festival for a weekend, and it was amazing: my first time to the beach since moving to Ecuador, and I learned so much.

– draw 7 mandalas

I drew 1 so far – the rest will be for 2015.

All in all: I needed a lot of energy for starting my new job and adjusting to a new country, and I’ve been working very hard. Hopefully, in 2015, I can relax a little more, explore more of the country, and spend more time doing creative work.

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This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. This is amazing! I think achieving all your goals would have been simply superhuman. You have accomplished A LOT and I wish you all the best for 2015.

  2. This is very very VERY impressive stuff! I remember seeing your super long and (to me) super ambitious list for 2014 – and you got so much done! I'm especially impressed by the almost daily gym and the number of books read. I would love to read more, but after an entire day of work my brain is useless and I struggle to comprehend books. Also can't imagine exercising this much – I usually need two days of rest between proper sessions or the pain levels are too high and I'm just tired and miserable. Kudos to you for doing so well and all the best this year :]

  3. Thank you!I read a lot on my many airplane trips, and I made it a habit to read in bed before sleeping – I used to do this as a kid and teenager, and I forgot how relaxing it is for me.As for the exercise – I do need to watch out for overtraining, so I try to mix up my routine. I need a lot of movement, I get jittery from sitting behind my computer at work, and if I don't work out, I have much more trouble falling asleep… Still, when I'm too tired, I have no problem skipping the gym and sleeping in.

  4. This is so well organized and thoughtful. Unlike most solipsistic goal list posts I've seen.Very inspiring.Thank you!struggling PhD student

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