Yesterday, I talked about why I chose Manifest Destiny as my theme for 2018. I've been eschewing resolutions and instead embracing themes since 2005. It gives a chance for flexibility and tends to be a pretty good way to draw an outline for a year, meet goals, add things in on the fly if opportunities arise, and is a ritual I have come to look forward to.
2017 was a good year overall, I just chose the theme incorrectly. The ultimate goal of the year was an end-state, rather than any particular action, and that was largely out of my hands. There were all sorts of steps I took to help move things in the direction I wanted them to go, but there was no way to guarantee that any of these would result in what we wanted. I've made sure not to do that again for 2018!
Looking back on a dozen years of themes...
2017: Everything's Bigger in Texas - While it was factually true, it turned out to be personally not relevant. Why? Well, the biggest reason is that we didn't get any job offers in Texas. I was certain I would move to Texas this year. But alas, I wound up with a job in Idaho. C'est la vie! However, all was not lost, and though it took 164 job applications, we're getting the adventure we never thought we'd set out on. We got 2 more cats for a total of 4; I visited beautiful places in Arkansas for the first time; met some of Joe's family; presented at a conference with two of my favorite fellow academics; did some interesting projects at work; and got a car.
2016: Water Your Own Lawn - Stopped worrying about other people's expectations, figured out a new dissertation topic, did new things at work, took road trips
2015: 2.0 - Got an xbox, got rid of my car, fell in love with Joe before our first date, got two cats, had small Existential crisis over former dissertation topic, went to Texas for the first time
2014: Whiskey and Sangria - Finished the comps, got a new job, moved to Old Dominion, ended a relationship I should have ended the year before
2013: Best of All Possible Worlds - Shout out to Voltaire on this one, more Japan, hustled for some scholarships and grants, learned about mapping the physical world, dealt with a furlough
2012: The Prestige - Started a pilot project for a dissertation topic, moved out of the ghetto, made some hard decisions regarding my career and school and life
2011: Mētēorology - Less to do with the weather and everything to do with the play on words of meet/meat/mete, new people, expectations, a course on meat, a course on the Philly cheese steak, spent a lot of time in Japan, learned to love Halloween
2010: Choose Your Own Adventure - took Japanese courses in New York city, traveled a little, moved to Maryland, started the PhD
2009: Carousel of Progress - got a permanent position at my job, finished my MA, did some more conferences, went back to Japan
2008: Year of New Time Zones - went to academic conferences and presented research in four different US time zones
2007: The Triumphant Return - went back to grad school, went back to Monmouth University, moved back to Point Pleasant, made my second trip to Japan
2006: (none) - I moved to an adorable apartment but both my grandparents died and I didn't go to school at all this year, so superstition forced me to reinstate the themes
2005: Year of New Things - grad school, went on my first spring break, made new friends, got a job at Princeton.